Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Beach

Silence-silence is best when on a beach. Only then can you properly allow the sound of the waves to wash over your soul and mind. The undulating nature of the tide is a beautiful mirror of life and its ins and outs. Life fills and then recedes, just as the tide. One cannot depend upon consistency in life, which the waves communicate well. The sun reflects off of the water and brings warmth and purpose. The sea gulls swoop and dive for prey, their cry of life ringing in your ears. Tranquility and contemplation are aroused upon pacing the sands: each grain emulating the vastness of humanity. In addition, as one surveys the imprints of life left upon those sands, and then watches as the winds erase forever those impressions-one is reminded of the transience that is life. The beach is a refuge for the soul and solitude for the mind. Its silence offers what the noise of the world cannot.

Bikes and such

Adventures are only as far as a bike can take you. The beauty of ones surrounding has new meaning when being surveyed from the vantage point of a moving two-wheeler. The wind rushing like a spirit through you brings acute pleasure and the setting sun possesses new splendor. The sky flies past you, or rather you by it, as you pedal faster and faster towards your adventure-or perhaps riding is the adventure? Bikes and such are wonderful things…


Black and ominous they hovered in masses above. Countless, countless were their numbers. They flocked to trees and the unintelligible noises they uttered made one desire to speak their language. As we rode beneath this gathering, I somehow felt we were intruding upon some secret meeting. The scene was reminiscent of some old Alfred Hitchcock film and evoked the erring feeling of being oneself in a movie. The sun receded as we rode, shrouding us in darkness, and still the birds flew above. I do believe they were glad to see the intruders leave their territory; I too was glad to depart from the scene. I do, however, still wonder what they were saying…?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Country Karaoke in an Irish Pub

It was truly a unique experience. Our holiday homes are directly across the street from a pub called Maggie Murray’s, and every Friday night they have live, American, country karaoke. On the first Friday in our new home, the majority of our group decided to attend this intriguing event.
The DJ was playing honky tonk country music as I walked into the dimly lit pub. It was not yet very full, considering the early hour. I spied my friends and walked over to where they sat against the wall. I was quickly engaged in conversation by a middle aged Irishmen, who I had a very difficult time understanding due to his thick accent. He had worked in New York as a brick layer for five years and went on and on about how much he loves America. I could not honestly tell you his name, despite the fact that he told me about ten times, but I'm still not quite sure what he said. He was replaced by Donny, who had lived in Ireland his whole life and was quite sick of the place.
He was subsequently replaced by Dale, the young British army mechanic. I found I could much more easily understand Dale with his British accent. Dale found our "no drinking" policy quite interesting, but "admirable" he said. I noticed that many of the people in the pub had tattoos and a great many of them at that. Dale had a bit of one peeking out of his sleeve and told me it covered his entire back and front-oh my.
The Texans in our group (minus me) did a wonderful job of proudly representing our state and its infinite pride. I do not remember the last time I laughed with such force. One girl on our team, who did not seem to the rest of us to be the most outgoing type, stunned us all with a flamboyant performance on more than one occasion and song-and even spun Irishmen around at the bar to sing to them directly-it was an incredible memory.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The experience

I am baffled daily at what I am being allowed to experience in this place. I walk out my back door and am presented with the hugeness of the Mouren Mountains to my left, which conjure images of Narnia and perhaps even Middle Earth. I am within biking distance of the Irish sea coast, upon which I ran yesterday afternoon as the tide was coming in and crashing against the beautiful shore.
My housemate and I climbed the doons along the beach and then transversed the hilly countryside on our mountain bikes. In our explorations, we discovered the other side of the cove, on which our houses reside. We came down to the shore, resting our bikes along the path. We were both speechless as we took in the scene. The sun was brightly shining, but the rain was lightly falling on our heads, and directly in front of us was an unspeakably beautiful rainbow and its twin. It felt as if we were close enough to touch. I do believe we were as close to the foot of a rainbow that anyone could ever be, and I am sad to say, there was no pot of gold to be found.
There are so many experiences to recount...but I must draw this portion of the Chronicles to a close for now. I will resume when the world of technology is again available to me...farewell!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Home away from home

Here I am-arrived in what shall be my home for the next three months. I was struck by the quaintness of the place. A small Irish town, with an old cathedral, a main street, and homes right along the ocean. Our holiday homes are right next to a bay that recedes two times daily and occasionally will behind a group of seals and the singular lone fishing boat. The scenery is simply beyond my vocabulary. As I walk out my back door, I am met with a visions emitting somewhere from the minds of Lewis and Tolkien. The Mourne mountains stand ominously to the right of our homes, often shrouded in clouds.
Our group toured the Northern Irish Assembly just yesterday, which would be their version of the English Parliament. I felt extremely privileged to be experiencing what we did. We were allowed to speak and question politicians from four of the eight leading political parties here in Northern Ireland and ask them any question we chose. We were taken onto the assembly floor by two particularly flamboyant, young politicians; who also conducted us through many other private sectors of the assembly house. We even had tea in the room, especially designated for politicians and such-it was crazy cool.
I am still having difficulty taking in all that I have done and expressing it all properly. I hope to do it more justice in the future, but for now, I must sign off...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Emerald Isle...

Where does one begin to tell of this wondrous place? The plane descended beneath the clouds, revealing lush green farmland spotted with houses. This picturesque countryside was kissed with sunlight streaming through the clouds through which we flew. I had arrived-I was in Ireland. The waiting, the preparations were over, and now here I was.
Wonderful conversations were had on the plane and Irish friendships were formed. A young man and an older woman spoke of their country and my teammate and I spoke of our own. Stories were swapped and information was exchanged. Due to our unusually long hold-up in customs, the young Irish man, unintentionally made off with my favorite pen, which was quite unfortunate, well maybe not…
We have been touring continually since our arrival. We have seen the Carrick-a-rede Bridge (through a good, strong Irish rain), explored Dunluce Castle (inspiration for Lewis and his chronicles), listened to the great artist Ross Wilson (as well as chatting with him over a cup of tea), we have seen murals commemorating Bloody Sunday in London-Derry, and today we toured Devenish Island and walked through the halls of Castle Coole. Our days have been filled with delicious Irish meals (fish and chips and the like) countless cups of hot Irish tea, hostels, sightseeing, more walking than I care to recall and a glorious beginning to a semester of immersion.
I look forward with anticipation and nervousness to the months ahead and what they will house. I have already felt keenly the presence and working hand of my Maker and cannot wait to see His face more clearly through the lense of Ireland.