WELCOME

We are created out of love, by God, for union with our Creator.  But the world system lures us all to anchor on the shores of a half-alive, objectified existence that is not human, to be safe, in control, and self-referenced.  The belief in the lie that, “You can be like God”, and not human, makes true relationship impossible -with God, with self, or others.   Here we become fearfully consumed with survival, gasping for the oxygen our soul needs.
The Psalmist cries,  “Deep calls to Deep”.  The Apostle Paul declares, “In Him we live and move and have our being.”  Jesus calls us to push out into the deep mystery of God’s dreams for each of us, to make our home in the depths of God’s unfailing love for us, and to live more fully into who we were created to be, our true in-God-self, truly human, and fully alive.  The superficiality of our time is killing our planet and its inhabitants. The antidote for the healing of this dying world, is people willing to take the risk and embark on the adventure of

Eagle’s Wings Ministries invites, supports, and companions fellow pilgrims responding to the call of the Deep through ancient, time-tested contemplative spiritual practices of followers of Jesus for transformative living.

The Necessity of Holy Week

 

P1020841It was only in the face of death that I clearly saw—and perhaps only fleetingly—what life was all about. Intellectually, I had understood the concept dying to self, but in the face of death itself it seemed as if I could now grasp its full meaning. When I saw how Jesus called me to let go of everything and to trust fully that by doing so my life would be fruitful for others. I could suddenly also see what my deepest vocation had always been.

My encounter with death told me something new about the meaning of my physical death and of the lifelong dying to self that must precede it.
~Excerpt from Beyond the Mirror by Henri Nouwen~

After living 20 years on the central coast of California, I’ve lost the sense of the seasonal rhythms I knew as a child in Philadelphia. Here, we never really experience the stark dead of winter with all its greyed tones. In February, daffodils and jonquils poke their sunny heads up through the greening of the landscape ignited by the winter rain and warmed by our temperate climate. Roses bloom before the heat of June, and geraniums re-bloom even though they are annual plants, meant to flower through one summer.

In my twenties, I lived in Chicago where nothing bloomed in winter. Life went underground between November and March, sometimes into April. The absence of color during those winters became a crucible of longing. Beginning early March, I compulsively watched for the return of robin red-breast because I needed hope winter would finally end.  Although the depression of Seasonal Affective Disorder wreaked havoc in my life during those years, the desperation after the long cold dark still serves as a reminder that although necessary for new growth, the story does not end with winter.

This past Sunday my husband and I visited an internationally known Evangelical church with an average weekly attendance of  20,000  at nine regional campuses, and four international. How do I know those numbers? As part of the 35th anniversary of the church, the founding pastor recounted the numerical blessings to the audience. Impressive? Yes.

Much of his message resonated with me, but how he associated God’s blessing with numbers and accomplishment disturbed me. I confess that after years of my husband working at “mega- churches,” lived experience taints my opinion of church growth success with a bit of skepticism.

In a few days, many Christian churches celebrate Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday before they celebrate the Resurrection. The Humble Servant washes dirty feet, suffers great sorrow and pain, dies in agony, descends into hell all before the renewal of life.

At the end of the Palm Sunday service I attended, an exuberant associate pastor invited the congregants to come back for one of the church’s 56 Easter services, in 17 locations, including the four international campuses. The first service is on Thursday at the location I attended.

Since I’ve only been to the church once, I want to believe the leadership’s choice to celebrate Easter without a mention of what came before the resurrection doesn’t reflect their interpretation of the Gospel.

But I know in my own life, if I had a choice, I would always bypass winter and death for an eternal spring. Life without death might be nice. But that’s not what I believe, nor is it what the Christian Scriptures teach.

Without death, the resurrection is just fiction. Growth isn’t always about success and victory. I have to believe suffering and sorrow can lead to depth and beauty or else I couldn’t believe in any of the Christian narrative. My soul needs the grit of Maundy Thursday, the long suffering of Good Friday, the terrible grief of Holy Saturday. If I don’t travel on that path, there is nothing to celebrate on Resurrection Sunday.

I wonder when we bypass Holy Week and go straight to Easter if it’s an admission to our illusion that spiritual growth can be obtained rather than received. If we work real hard we can avoid the vulnerability of being human. There is no need to die to self, since self is the vehicle that carries us above the ordinary drama of life.

But drama will come and we can either blame Satan or God for our troubles. Or we can flagellate ourselves for a lack of faith.

Or we could remember the order of events in Holy Week and stay the course to find meaning, comfort, encouragement because Resurrection Sunday always comes after Good Friday.

Little Girl Blue

Kiloran Bay on the Isle of Colonsay

Kiloran Bay on the Isle of Colonsay, Scotland

[Lent] It’s about stripping of the false self in order to call forth the true self-the imago dei.
It’s about surrendering the things that don’t give life in order to allow the things that do to flourish.

~Lacy Clark Ellman~

 

Lent stirs and disturbs.

If we let it, the season will stir the embers of our longings into flame.

This year I’ve been swept into the warmth of the mothering of God, wooing a timid piece of myself to come out from hiding. I sort of knew that little girl was there, but because her voice was so quiet I didn’t pay her much attention.

I mistook her quietness for impotence, not realizing the little girl wielded a sword edged sharp with insecurities. The smallest incident threatens “Little Girl Blue,” the name she has assumed for almost 60 years, but I have just discovered.

If we enter fully into the sacred rhythm of the liturgical calendar the Spirit will disturb what settled beneath the debris of winter.

During one of my prayer times this week a memory from a Pennsylvania December intruded on a lovely time of worship. My brother, older by seven years, sat close to me in the back seat of the car. Our soft breathing hung in the cold air, little bits of fog danced beneath our noses. I must have drained my baby bottle, because I started to whine for more milk. The memory is thin, so I don’t really know if this is a factual account. The memory has power to it, no matter the accuracy.

Frustrated by the noise of my insistence, my Dad growled at my mother, “She’s too old for this.”

My father was probably right. I had outgrown the need for a bottle. Yet that is exactly what I wanted as I sat cuddled against my brother trying to keep warm.

My dad, a man of action, pulled the 1956 two-toned Chevy onto the side of the road, grabbed the bottle from my little hand and declared, “Enough of this.”

His man-bear body jumped out of the car, my treasure clutched in his paw. Seconds later, his other paw gathered me into his arms, his treasure cradled close to his chest. With a great heave, my bottle flew from my Dad’s grip down what seemed to my two and half year old eye, a great ravine.

And that was that.

Or was it?

As this random memory took root in my prayer, I started tending that bruised part of myself. I wrote a bit about it in last week’s blog post.

Somewhat unorthodox, my Dad’s method was meant not for harm, but for my good. That’s not, however, how Little Girl Blue integrated the event. Perhaps not as brutal an experience, all humans learn the first time the hear a “no” instead of a “yes,” that the universe does not exist to meet their every want.

We need that so we can learn to cooperate, to defer desires, to grow into mature adults and not succumb to the narcissism so rampant in our consumer culture.

Yet.

Yet, the very thing we need for healthy development can also cloud our sense of our true selves, the image of God within us obscured by the wound.

So far this Lenten season has stirred my longing to live more fully aligned to God’s intentions for me. The Spirit disturbed the forgotten memory of a too strict dad forcing an innocent child to bear the weight only his desires mattered, hers literally thrown down a cliff.

Why does any of this matter? Because even though that bottle is long gone, I often feel like I don’t really matter, even though I know that I do.

We’re created to establish belief through two pathways-cognitive and experiential, that is head and heart. And only when both pathways are engaged does belief become complete and actual.                                   ~Judith Hougen~

No matter how many Bible verses I memorize about who I am in Christ, no matter how many times my husband tells me I have value, no matter the number of cards written by friends and family that tell me how much it means to them to have me in their lives, no matter how many times I try to chastise myself into renouncing my infantile feelings, if I don’t allow my heart to experience that truth I will remain the same.

Little Girl Blue has had many years to fine tune her ability to turn a good night into a big fight with my husband. She twists innocent words into personal attacks.

I want to continue to go home to my true self, to the image God had and still has for me. As I allow the Spirit to mother the little girl whose security and comfort was torn from her hands, I am freed to become more like Jesus and less likely to distort a sideway glance into a major offense.

Some may think this a bit indulgent and self-serving. There are times when I am both of those, but this story is about the difficult and often painful process of healing. I’ve witnessed the powerful impact of those farther down their road toward wholeness. As they cooperate with God, they heal, as they heal, the world heals.

Isn’t that a worth-while fruit of Lent?

Pilgrimage Update

Stopping to pray on one of my first pilgrimages to the Inner Hebrides island of Colonsay

Stopping to pray on one of my first pilgrimages to the Inner Hebrides Island of Colonsay.

If the ancient Greek term, metanoia, translates into “conversion” or “change of heart,” then being a pilgrim is about being open to that heart-dimension and the possibility of that transformation of the heart.
~Edward C. Sellner~

The pilgrim journey is one of adventure, one moving toward a destination. But the pilgrim is always aware the God of the journey creates the path they travel upon, and is not surprised when the unexpected appears on the road.

Our hotel and coach bus provider have extended their deadlines for our deposit, so we can also extend our registration deadline. What a pleasant surprise for all those who have yet to register.

Wholehearted, A Contemplative Pilgrimage to Ireland
September 12-22, 2015
Registration Deadline: April 15, 2015
Cost: $ 3650 Single Supplement: An additional $450 (Airfare not included)

For those unfamiliar with pilgrimage, and for those curious, but a little nervous about what they may be committing to if they sign up for Wholehearted, A Contemplative Pilgrimage to Ireland, read on and see if anything resonates with your soul.

A little over a decade ago a seed of wonder began to germinate in my heart. I didn’t know anyone who had ever gone on pilgrimage. I didn’t even know what pilgrimage was all about. Yet, while on my first silent week-long retreat in January, the idea of going on an extended time away kept popping into my prayer.

I did a little research and found a pilgrimage that sounded like it fit with where I was in that season of life. That pilgrimage cost exactly the same amount as this year’s Eagle’s Wings pilgrimage. When I sent in my non-refundable deposit of $395, precious money we needed for our household needs, I had no idea if I could save enough money to pay for the rest of the trip.

That was all part of the pilgrimage for me. To be a pilgrim requires you to step out and risk, to pay attention to where your heart draws you and trust God stirs that desire and will provide what you need. That sounds really lovely, but in truth I didn’t really believe the money would be there.

In her book, The Sacred Gaze, Susan R. Pitchford talks about inner poverty as the process that “brings us to the end of our resources, and our confidence in our ability to apply them. It is so easy to say we trust God to supply our needs, while living out of our fantasies of self-sufficiency.”

For me, that first pilgrimage took me to the edge of my resources, financial as well as my ability to cope with a pilgrim group that I felt judged me for holding different beliefs than most of the group. I don’t know how they really felt about me, but while on the journey I wept many tears, all to loosen the grip of an identity I had of myself that no longer served me well. I needed to be emptied to make room for the growth of my true self.

I returned home after those 14 days, exhausted, broken, worn; a condition very conducive for the massive transformation that took place over the next five years.

Thirteen years and eight pilgrimages later, I continue to make journeys to sacred sites where the landscape helps inform me about my inner geography. Pilgrimage is a vessel for my life journey, helping me to find meaning and purpose as I travel toward the vast mystery of God, gaining glimpses of the presence of Jesus that become food that nurtures, sustains and breathes freshness into my life.

Perhaps this is the year you too need to come to the end of your resources and catch a glimpse of Jesus in your life. Perhaps this is the year you will come journey with us.

To Register go to our website eagleswingsministries.org and click the “What We Do” tab.  Or call 831-247-4678 or email eaglswing1@aol.com

 

The Way of the Heart

 

IMG_1409

Remnants of the cloister at Bective Abbey, Ireland

Carefully observe the way your heart draws you and then choose that way with all your heart.
~Old Hasidic Saying~

The deadline for registration for Wholehearted, A Contemplative Pilgrimage is only a few days away. As I continue to work on the content I revisit the sites, bringing into memory the chartreuse of a tiny fern that rooted itself in the stone wall of the ruins of Bective Abbey. Cornwall’s reign of terror dissolved the once vibrant monastic community, yet what remains standing of the ministry of those early men of God still nurtures life. It has the potential to nurture yours as well if you join us.

Four Knocks, Newgrange, the Proleek Dolmen, Loughcrew, all sacred sites of much earlier peoples, many adorned with spirals, chevrons, solar and lunar symbols, take my breath away. Older than the pyramids in Giza, these prehistoric monuments invite me to pay serious attention to my own spiritual longings. How often we abandon what our heart really desires for the lesser gods of work, television, and making others happy.

This may be the time God invites you to stop ignoring your own desire to follow hard after Jesus. C.S. Lewis writes about his contemporaries being satisfied with playing in mud puddles when God had a holiday at sea for them. We won’t spend time at the sea on this pilgrimage, but this could be the holiday your soul has longed for and God has prepared for you.

We would love to have you join us. Please sign up before we need to start making our deposits for the hotels and transportation. But be forewarned. To go on pilgrimage is risky business. If you enjoy the status quo, or if you prefer a safe relationship with God where you can manage your spiritual life with disciplines that allow you to remain in control, rather than push you to the edge of the unknown, then stay home.

But, if there is something inside of you that rouses from its sleep, that calls you to push off from the shore of a perfectly respectable experience of Jesus, but void of any visible or felt proof of anything other than your own goodness, then you may want to take the leap and register for Wholehearted.

It may be hard to imagine devoting ten days to seeking God, but if you do, we guarantee you’ll return more in love with the One who stirred your desires in the first place.

As you carefully observe the way your heart draws you, could it be this pilgrimage to Ireland is the way it wants to go?

Wholehearted, A Contemplative Pilgrimage to Ireland, September 12-22, 2015
Cost: $3650, $450 single supplement.
Does not include airfare.

For further details go to “What We Do” on our website.

Email us at eaglswings1@aol.com, call 831-247-4678, or register online at this link:

www.eagleswingsministries.org/?page_id=532

Celtic Advent Gifts from Eagle’s Wings

The first real rain of the season has transformed the drought ravished brown of California into a verdant dance of foliage. It always amazes me how dramatic the change in the landscape when the earth receives a healthy dose of water.

The beauty however doesn’t relieve the stress the lack of rain has had on our water reserves. California needs many storms laden with moisture to make a dent in our deficit.

Sometimes the refreshment my soul experiences when droplets of encouragement saturate the surface lulls me into a similar illusion that distorts the depth of my need for a long draught of living water. To assume all is well with just a quarter-dose of what is needed creates the possibility of total collapse.

I encourage all of us to take a long, loving look at the real in our lives.

Does your soul thirst for more than what your current spiritual practice offers?
Do you need a respite from output and production so you can drink from the wells of living water?
Have you felt everything in your life is just fine, yet some indistinct angst haunts just beneath the surface?

Like California, we all need to pull back and take an honest look at the condition of what lies deep under the skin of our lives. Without proper planning, we can exhaust what resources we have and fall into crisis.

I much prefer to write invitations to Eagle’s Wings offerings that use a little more “woo” factor than this. Soft words whispered with the hope to entice the listener to come and receive from the hand of God.

What I have found is most of us are like some Californians who think everything will be fine when the rain finally comes. We ignore how thirsty we really are or sip when what we really needs is a good dunk to saturate through.

Sometimes we need more than soft strokes of love.

Sometimes we need to recognize our neglect threatens to leave us withered and cracked.

Sometimes I need to be truthful with myself and respond with fortitude and courage to take the steps necessary to care for my soul.

 

Eagle’s Wings has two opportunities in 2015 for those souls who are ready to respond to the Voice who desires to replenish, restore and reignite.

 

WATER FOR THE SOUL                                                                                                                 May 19-22, 2015, our annual four-day Be Thou My Vision retreat at Lake Tahoe.

 

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou My Vision

Early bird price: Before January 15, 2015                                                                            $420/person, Double Occupancy                                                                                                 $470 Single                                                                                                                                  $745/couple

After January 15, 2015                                                                                                          $470/person Double Occupancy                                                                                        $520/person Single                                                                                                                      $845/Couple

WHOLEHEARTED, A CONTEMPLATIVE PILGRIMAGE TO IRELAND
September 13-22, 2015

High Celtic Cross

High Celtic Cross

$3650 per person   Single Supplement: Additional $450

For more info go to our website eagleswingsministries.org, and click the “What We Do” tab.

We keep the costs of our events as low as possible so anyone who senses a nudge to come can. This year as a way to celebrate the Celtic Advent which starts November 15, and because we think both of these experiences will transform your life, Eagle’s Wings wants to gift you with a few incentives to register before Christmas for either BTMV 2015 or the Pilgrimage.

BE THOU MY VISION:
We’ll deduct an additional $20 off the Early Bird prices for Be Thou My Vision if you register before December 25.

Everyone who has already registered will also receive this gift.

If you register as a couple, the couple receives the $20 discount and not each person.
WHOLEHEARTED, A CONTEMPLATIVE PILGRIMAGE TO IRELAND
Each week we’ll offer a different gift. Please note we start with the most generous. So, if you know you will register, don’t wait until December 25 if you want a specific discount. Take a look at the schedule and see which discount suits you best.

Register:
November 15-21
Pay in full and deduct $400 off the $3650 price for the pilgrimage.

November 22-28
Any couple who pays the $500 deposit per person will receive $450 off per couple, off their total price for the pilgrimage.

November 29-December 5
Pay your deposit and first payment, $1450,  and receive a $200 discount off total price for the pilgrimage.

December 6-12
A group of two or more who register with their $500 deposit each will receive a discount of $200 per person.

December 13-19
Anyone who registers with their deposit of $500 receives a $150 discount on the total price of pilgrimage.

December 20-25
If someone registers who has been referred by another already registered, both persons will receive $100 off the total price of the pilgrimage. If a couple refers someone, only one $100 discount will be given per couple.

All discounts require a $500 non-refundable deposit.

 

CLOSED _ Pilgrimage 2017: Wholehearted Details

St. Kevin's Church, Glendalough, Ireland

St. Kevin’s Church, Glendalough, Ireland

Saturday, June 10, 2017
Travel Day on your own to Dublin.

Sunday, June 11, 2017
Pilgrims will meet in Dublin Airport at noon and travel first to the prehistoric passage tomb of Four Knocks where the group crosses the threshold between travel to pilgrimage and the beginning of our journey together.

http://www.meath.ie/Tourism/Heritage/HeritageSites/FourKnocks/

We arrive in time for supper in Trim, our home base for the next four nights.

Stay: Trim Castle Hotel  (D)

 

Monday, June 12, 2017
After breakfast and an orientation for the day, we spend a few hours at the 12th century ruins of Bective Abbey. This will be an extended time spent outdoors in individual prayer amidst the ancient stones standing as a testament to the devotion of those who dedicated their lives to serving Jesus.

Our coach bus carries us next to the Hill of Tara, the spiritual heart of ancient Ireland. Lunch will be on your own at the little cafe and shop at the bottom of the Hill. Be sure to check out The Old Bookshop next door to the cafe. Michael Slavin, author of The Book of Tara, runs the shop.

After a docent tour of the Hill of Tara we visit the Hill of Slane of St. Patrick fame.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bective_Abbey
http://hilloftara.org/history-and-information/
http://www.megalithicireland.com/Hill%20of%20Slane.html

We arrive in time for supper back in Trim.

Stay: Trim Castle Hotel (B,D)

 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017
We depart after breakfast for Newgrange and the World Heritage Center.
You will be on your own for lunch at the visitor center.
In the afternoon we travel to the famous High Crosses of Monasterboice
and the old Mellifont Abbey before returning to our lodging in Trim, arriving in time for supper.

http://www.worldheritageireland.ie/bru-na-boinne/built-heritage/newgrange/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monasterboice
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mellifont_Abbey

Stay: Trim Castle Hotel (B,D)

 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
We head out to the furthest reaches of County Meath to visit the 5000 year old hilltop passage tomb of Loughcrew. Stone-age art covers the interior walls and ceilings of Carin T. The ancient symbols can also be seen on other stone slabs now exposed since the collapse of the earthen mounds. We spend this morning exploring both the site as well as our interior space. Rain or shine, we brown bag there for a picnic lunch.

After our morning prayer we venture down to the Loughcrew Gardens cafe for a bathroom break and if you would like a spot of tea.

We spend the afternoon at Fore Abbey, an ancient Benedictine ruin in West Meath, then back to Trim for dinner.

http://loughcrew.com/wp/cairns/                                                                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fore_Abbey

Stay: Trim Castle Hotel (B, L, D)

 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

We leave the Boyne Valley today and our home in Trim to travel to Glendalough, the ruins of an early medieval monastic city. On the way we stop in Kildare and visit sites associated with St. Brigid, the Patroness of Ireland. One of the Brigidine sisters will accompany us in a time of prayer and a pilgrimage walk, “Walking in the Footsteps of St. Brigid.”

After lunch on our own in Kildare, the coach works its way through the glorious Wicklow mountains and into the glacial valley of Glendalough, our home for the next four nights. Our pilgrim group dines together at the Glendalough Hotel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigit_of_Kildare                                                     http://www.glendalough.ie/

Stay: Glendalough Hotel (B,D)

 

Friday, June 16, 2017
After breakfast, we explore the monastic city with Kevin Kelly. He brings his passion for St. Kevin and Celtic Christianity and encourages us to follow in the ways of Jesus. We lunch on our own, then regather in the afternoon to walk to Trinity Church for an afternoon of reflection and prayer.

Stay: Glendalough Hotel (B, D)

 

Saturday, June 17, 2017
Breakfast together, then walk on the Green Way to St. Kevin’s Well, St. Saviour’s Church and if you care to walk further, to the woolen mill in Laraugh.

Enjoy lunch on your own and a free afternoon.

Regather for dinner at the Glendalough Hotel.

Stay: Glendalough Hotel (B, D)

 

Sunday: June 18, 2017
After breakfast the group will wander over to the ruins of St. Mary’s (The Woman’s Church) for Sunday worship.

Lunch on your own.

Afternoon our pilgrim group wanders our way up the valley to St. Kevin’s Desert at the Upper Lake. We visit St. Kevin’s bed, St. Kevin’s cell, and an ancient cross most likely used as a station for pilgrims on their way to St. Kevin’s cell.

Stay: Glendalough Hotel (B, D)

 

Monday, June 19, 2017
A desert day. A luxurious day of holy leisure and silence where we return to the places that have touched our hearts and call us back to spend more time there. After breakfast and morning prayer, we leave each other to spend time alone in reflection and prayer. We gather in the late afternoon for a closing ritual and our last dinner together.

Stay: Glendalough Hotel

(B, Afternoon Wine and Cheese, D)

 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
We leave early morning for the airport. The Dublin airport suggests arriving three hours before your departure since we go through Customs in Ireland instead of the States. Please do not schedule your flight before 10:00. If you must, you need to arrange for a cab which will cost about 90 Euros.

(B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner)

 

We keep our pilgrim groups small to create an intimate environment rather than a “tour” mentality. We expect to fill this pilgrimage, so please register and send your deposit  early.

Nonrefundable deposit-$495

November 1, 2016 – $950 due.

January 1, 2017 – $950 due.

Mar 1, 2017 – Balance due.

Total due – $3650 plus $495 for single supplement. (please contact us to see if there are any single rooms still available)

We spend significant time outdoors everyday, so bring clothing and shoes that will endure the unpredictable Irish weather.  Although September offers gorgeous blue skies and moderate temps, it will most likely rain.

Our pilgrim group will walk where the ancient peoples and early Christians built their sacred sites.  The terrain, like their faith, is rugged.  This pilgrimage is not suitable for those with limited mobility.  If you can walk a mile comfortably and up a steep hill you’ll do fine.

Eagle’s Wings reserves the right to change the itinerary if needed.

If there are wild global economic shifts there may be an additional cost added to accommodate major changes in the Euro/dollar exchange.  We don’t anticipate that will happen, but want to communicate we will not be able to cover that cost if it does.

Not included in the price: Air travel, travel insurance, passport fees, 35 Euros for coach driver’s tip, gratuities for any other service, personal expenses such as room service, valet, drinks, lunches.

Refund Policy                                                                                                                                    $500 cancellation fee up to Mar 1, 2017

$1200 cancellation fee Mar 1- Apr 1, 2017

No refund after Apr 1, 2017

Be aware if Eagle’s Wings incurs additional costs due to your cancellation we will pass the charge on to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking on Sunshine

image

Whoa, I’m walking on sunshine. Whoa, I’m walking on sunshine and don’t it feel good….

3:09 A.M.

I’m not walking on sunshine, but the almost 1000 high school students dressed in backless gowns and crisp suits must be as the live music blares non-stop since before midnight. The Headfort Arms hotel in Kells, failed to tell us both when we reserved a room and when we checked in this afternoon that hundreds of students would converge late night in the hotel ballroom and gardens for an “ancient” ritual called The Debs, a debutant ball.

I wake up laughing as a gaggle of female voices belt out in best “Glee” form every word to every song the band plays. Sitting cross legged on my bed as I write, the kitchen staff works just below our window. They drop a tray of cutlery just to emphasis my night’s sleep really was just a short nap.

My husband snores in rhythm with the chaos.

I sit cross legged on the bed. Wide awake.

As I write, I can’t repress chuckles over the absolute ridiculousness of the scene that could have been lifted from the next Paul Rudd romantic comedy. I imagine Don and I making loud love. But as the lead singer of the band just thanked the crowd for a beautiful night, I can also imagine our last cries of passion echoing among the innocents in the comparative silence.

Pilgrimage requires imagination.

Imagination becomes the container to hold all that is sacred, from the joyful celebration of life below our window, to the etched spirals on two ton stones on the interior slabs of the cruciform passage tomb atop the highest point of County Meath.

Don approaches Carin T  at Loughcrew

Don approaches Carin T at Loughcrew

This time of year you have to drive past the road that leads to the car park below the 5000 year old tombs, to get the key from Mary at the Loughcrew Gardens to unlock the three foot gate barring entrance to the Carin.

The tomb rewards the seeker for the sidetrack and effort to climb the steep knoll. When we arrive an Irish mist clouds our view of the expansive stretch of farmlands below. No matter how obscured the valley, the megalithic art seizes possession of all my faculties, nothing else matters.

Interior wall of Carin T

Interior wall of Carin T

As if demanding reverence, the low entrance and passage requires the body to bow as you approach the inner chambers. Loughcrew is a passage tomb cemetery with around 30 tombs. Carin T, is still intact, save the removed capstone of the corbel roof top. Spirals, descending arcs, chevrons, small central circles surrounded by what looks to be petals of a flower adorn both interior and exterior walls. The ancients also inscribed the ceiling of the back chamber.

5000 year old megalithic art inside Carin T

5000 year old megalithic art inside Carin T

Mesmerized by the symbols on either side of the passage, I pause, my eyes barely able to absorb their magnificence. A man from Calgary, Canada entered before me and I hear him gasp, then the snap of his camera. So prolific the art, every turn brings you deeper into awe.

What impulse drove these ancient people to engineer structures adorned with art picked into stone that have endured since before the construction of the pyramids? What beliefs set the community into motion to create places for their dead aligned to the Spring and Autumnal equinox so the shaft of sunlight slides into the inner chamber at sunrise?

I’m glad we visited September 18 and not the 21st. Another visitor told us over 600 people gather for the event. Today we met seven others.

The festivities downstairs have quieted, but imagination continues to stir my mind and heart in wonder.

Pilgrimage requires imagination.

I try to imagine the rituals that Neolithic community created to celebrate the passage from this life, this way of being in the the world of family and clan, into the the life that extended beyond death.

Pilgrimage requires imagination.

I also imagine the Triune God, the Holy Trinity of my faith, ever present, there with these people. How did the Living God see these created beings who carried the image of Their imprint within their souls?

Imagination keeps me centered on the sacredness embedded in every epoch of time. But my imagination will only carry me so far. No one today knows the hearts and souls of these ancient peoples. I have to trust that whatever spiritual urge within them was gifted by the same God I worship, who instills within me my spiritual desires.

Be careful here, not to imagine I’m a Universalist. Don’t read more into my imaginations than what is here.

What I don’t imagine, but what I know, is no one in all of time is outside the presence of God. Now, at 4:15 in the morning, I imagine the possibility of the extensive effort to create Loughcrew as an act of worship.

As a pilgrim, I know Jesus accompanies me as I experience the Carins at Loughcrew. And I imagine He will use it to draw me closer to Him in whatever way He sees best.

Pilgrimage requires imagination, but it also requires faith the great Living True God will always lead the pilgrim toward Truth and Life.

 

In the Maker’s Gift

image

Across from our hotel, Trim Castle and site of the former Cistercian monastery.

AD 588
The men at the oars moved as though they had all the time in the world at their disposal…
~Geoffrey Moorhouse, Sundancing~

“You’ll need to get there early if you don’t want to be disappointed,” our server told us as we sipped tea at the cafe nestled at the foot of the Hill of Tara.

In her lovely Irish lilt she continued,”Yes, I can’t tell you how many tourists come here frustrated at not being able to get into Newgrange.”

Today I woke to the pitch black of early morning to shower and wash my hair. The hotel hair dryer designed for efficiency, requires the user to keep a finger pressed against a button while drying your hair. When the button is released the tool meant to hurry the process becomes impotent until the user once again pushes.

This off/on method makes me nuts. In my own bathroom with my own dryer it takes a full half an hour to dry my hair. Add another 20 minutes to the routine and it seems half the morning is gone.

It’s 9:40 now and I feel the press of the day slipping by, possibly not getting to things we need to do to prepare for the 2015 Eagle’s Wings pilgrimage.

This sounds a lot like how I feel most days when at home.

 

The time spent in seeking their place of solitude across the sea was not theirs to ordain.
It, too, was in the Maker’s gift, with its own divine purposes, and He would settle the duration of this journey as well as it’s outcome, wherever that might be.

 

It would be well I think, for me to remember like the early Celtic monks of Moorhouse’s book, that the Maker will settle the duration of my journey and the outcomes, whatever they may be.

With that image close to my heart, Don and I head out for this day’s adventure.

God at Work in the Ordinary

Donald back from  his adventure!

Donald back from his adventure!

The teal carpet offsets the overstuffed ruby chairs that flank the fireplace in the lobby of The Pembroke Townhouse. I’ve been waiting for Don to return from fetching our rental car from the Dublin airport.

He left at 10:30. My iPad tells me it’s now 1:44.

We have no cell phones here, so all I can do is wait.

And wonder where he is.

He must have used the phone at the Enterprise location because the clerk at the front desk gave me a message from Don around 12:30. I imagine myself still waiting an hour from now. I don’t mind the waiting.

It’s the wondering.

Which will turn into worry in about two hours.

Pilgrimage forces our need to know what is happening into the realm of insecurity.

Right now all I can do is wait.

Ah, here he is. I’m relieved of my fear, but am very aware the only thing stable, the only place I can place my trust, is in a God who does know everything.

Pilgrimage is so very much like the rest of life.

 

Why Pilgrimage?

imagePilgrimage offers the gift of being awake during soul-surgery. Personally, I most naturally desire to go into a deep sleep and wake up fully transformed. So, why would anyone choose pilgrimage over a wonderful sightseeing vacation? For me, desperation and a longing for more moves me to chose pilgrimage.

I’m deeply aware that my well-practiced ways of managing a sophisticated good-person image isn’t serving me well, but rather enslaving me. It robs me of the abundant life God offers us all in Jesus. These old ways of being in the world don’t die easily. At least, not with me. I long for more of the lived experience of the “free indeed” life Jesus set me free to live.

Already, several times in preparing for this pilgrimage, I’ve come face to face with my old fearful self in all its hyphenated forms. And the old-boy is still hanging around demanding attention and control.

So I ask for the grace, once again, to stay awake to myself, in all it’s forms; to stay awake to the grace and Hesed Jesus offers without limit; to offer compassion to myself and
Charlotte as I surrender to my loving God, the Surgeon of my soul.