We arrived at 8:30 a.m. in Dublin. We were met by Antionette, our guide, and Hugh, the bus driver. We came by coach to Glendalough, the site of an ancient monastic community where we will stay two nights.
We prayed our morning prayer on the bus. “New every morning is your love, great God of light. And all day long you are working for good in the world.”
Peace be with you this day. May you watch for the sacred places you encounter today.
I was a young adult preparing to visit Ireland when my great aunt Eileen shared this picture with me. Aunt Eileen had inherited the photo of her grandmother, Mary Tuohy Griffin, from Scarriff, County Clare, Ireland.
Eileen had visited her grandmother Griffin in 1915 with her family (including her older brothers Tommy and Jack). The family’s strange pilgrimage took them from South Africa to England and Ireland and then, eventually, to Oklahoma in the United States. (Their unintended immigration is too long a story for this post. I tell Grandpa’s story in my book.)
I grew up hearing the stories from my Grandpa Tom about those days in Ireland. About how he and his twin brother rode in the baskets the donkeys carried as they walked back and forth to the peat bogs. How they were each given a kid goat which they fed by letting them suckle any momma goat they could find. How they threw rocks down people’s chimneys and basically got into trouble like ten-year-old boys will do.
When I went to Ireland those years ago (before digital photography!), I traveled to County Clare to the little town of Scarriff. I asked at the post office for people who might have known of the Griffins and their farm north of town. I discovered a cousin of my grandpa’s, the chemist in town, who drove me out to the property. I stood and rested my eyes on the land, the sky, the fields, and I knew I was home.
Today I leave for a pilgrimage to this land of beauty, of music and poets and prayers. I travel with a group of other pilgrims from The Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation. I pray that we may be fully present, eyes and ears and hearts wide open to the blessings of each moment. That we step forward in trust that we will find the paths where the Spirit leads us. Traveling mercies for all who journey this day.
I am preparing to go on a pilgrimage with The Academy for Spiritual Formation. We’ll be traveling to Ireland in early July, visiting places associated with St. Kevin, St. Brigid, St. Patrick, and St. Columba. I hope to be sharing photos, prayers, and reflections from the road. This prayer is for all of us preparing for pilgrimage.
We stand on the shore
Waiting to climb into the coracle
That will take us on this pilgrimage.
We have our itineraries, our passports,
Our credit cards and bank cards,
Our cell phones, bags, and suitcases.
We think we know where we are going
And when we will return.
But on this trip, on this pilgrimage,
We need only our eyes, our ears,
Our minds, our hearts.
Where will you take us, Spirit?
And when we return to this place,
Will we be the same?
Guide us as we climb into this coracle
And give ourselves over to the waves
And the wind and the currents.
Lead us, God of Pilgrimage,
To where you would have us go.
What pilgrimage are you anticipating?