Each day Phil gives us another nugget, another layer to add to the mosaic that is Ireland. I love St. Brigid and the bold pirate Grace O`Malley ~ they encourage my sometimes flagging womanist loins. I am inspired by St. Ciaran, founder of the monastery at Clonmacnoise, who infused it with his vision, faith in God, and love for his people.
Each day is rich with poetry and music – how lucky to experience an intimate session with Sean Tyrell, singer of gravely intensity; a serendipitous opportunity to hear the great Christy Moore in concert, his songs and passion for justice continuing to reverberate amongst our Sacred Earth pilgrims; and breakfast with the poet Tony Curtis, who saw a group of beautiful pilgrim women and wanted to be a part of the dawning conversation. What a delightful flirt!
I must share, however inadequate my words, the luminous sessions we had with P.J. Curtis and Dara Malloy. We were blessed to have these men share their wisdom, their “mana’o” as I would say in Hawaiian, since I can’t find an English word to describe the utter totality of their being, soul, person, and depth. What a privilege to sit at their feet.
P.J. is one of Ireland’s foremost ethnomusicologists and musicians. He introduced us to the history and power of Irish music and its far-reaching influence beyond its native shores. He enabled us to appreciate the music we have been hearing throughout our pilgrimage. I’m inspired to pick up the accordion after so many years of silence! It is hard not to feel smug, going into the pubs and thinking, “I’m not just another tourist who has no understanding of the soul of Irish music.” Thank you, P.J.
And Dara Malloy – Celtic priest, scholar, and holy man – met us on Innismore, the largest of the Aran Islands. By the time we arrived at Innismore, questions and longings that have been submerged within my soul have started spiraling out. The spectacular island landscape, the numinous light, the crystalline waters, and Dara’s soul-sharing stirred those long dormant questions and questing. Mary Chapin Carpenter has a song called “Twilight” and I finally understand what she means by that magical time of day and the gloaming. The island pulsated with this sacred time and energy. I think I am going to swoon!
People go on pilgrimage around the world. I never expected Ireland to be anything more than just a beautiful country with friendly people. But Phil is showing me it is so much more. And as I get to know a bit of the soul of Ireland, I get to know a bit of my own.