I raced to the top of the ancient passage tomb and let the hillside of Ireland overwhelm my sight. Such beauty of history and ritual within this country. The ancient passage tombs of Knowth are a place considered to be mystical or spiritual. With ancient patterns of spirals carved into the rocks and quarts designating the entrances to the tomb. When archeologists discovered the tomb, they sought to preserve it. The 5,000 old tomb was a place of gathering for many different people groups that passed through time. I thought it was a bit humorous that now it stands as a tourist destination where people from around the world come to speculate its meaning. At what point did such a spiritual place become a speculation. I appreciated the guide for her stories and her mention that the preservation of the site is for future generations to understand their heritage. The Irish are very rich in their heritage and their preservation of landmarks that represent previous ways of living. The guide mentioned that people groups would occupy the space by the tombstones, but then move on. Today we have roads and clearly marked cities, but back then they simply trekked across the land in hopes of better land and a new way of living. Such a world of survival. A way of living that the modern industrialized world is far from, yet I have seen the simple way of living off the land in person. Walking through the museum display of village life in the hills of Ireland, it did not seem all that different from the villages I have seen in the northern hills of Thailand. Homes are made of what resources are available, and clothes are made by traditional handiwork. We speculate about this primitive way of life, yet many people of this world still live that same way. The only difference is that technology now has progressed and left many cultures, countries, economies, and people behind. But I suppose many do not ponder such things. I still question the now what of the information I have seen and experienced with simpler ways of living.
Upon returning to the city of Dublin, we ventured to explore the city more. The buildings here are shorter than Portland. The buildings seemed friendlier with their brightly colored doors and soft colors of stone and brick. After acquiring a mocha from Butler’s Chocolate Cafe, we walked through St. Patrick’s park. The gates were large and as I walked through the entry way I could see the stories play out before my eyes. Such beauty as the paths weaved around a body of water filled with creatures of flight resting on the surface. A picturesque swan gently floated by a willow tree as the sky reflected off the shimmers of the pond. We walked on to see a gazebo decorated in flowers and the sounds of conversation in different languages and accents. People from all around the world walk these paths with such stories of life. Even as the group exchanged laughter and stories I could see the beauty of life before my eyes. What a wonderful experience to travel and just be.
We wandered to an amazing fish and chips place that many celebrities have been to. Including Jackie Chan and LL Cool J’s Crew! We found a place to sit a few blocks away and enjoyed the experience of the city. People passed by, and we only got funny looks from locals. Probably something to do with the brightly colored northwest raincoats we all wear. My stomach was full and my heart was filled with the joy of life. In the evening we went out to listen to live music again at a pub. We met a lovely professor from Montana. She told us to travel while we are young and talked of how lovely people are wherever you go. I could tell her story has not always been easy, but even in her early 50s, she is soaking up all life has to offer and is guiding along future generations. The background of the guitar and accordion music with the friendlier atmosphere of the pub was absolutely wonderful. From all the trials I have faced in the last few months, I was happy to just be in the moment. To see and be. To be more than just a tourist speculating cultures, but to be within the culture. To see beyond the surface of life to live the beauty of joy, life, and the experiences that fill the heart with shalom.