I have so many things to write about after my trip to Ireland with my friend Joy (July 5-23). It was a great decision to not take my laptop and to only post photos and captions in my blog. These factors allowed me to really experience each day without over processing everything. Here are the ten things, in no particular order, I am pondering the day after my return.
My parents gave and continue to give me so much. Everything from the way I pack a suitcase to the way I make connections to my love of learning can be traced back to both the home I grew up in and and experiences they encouraged me to have without them.
I will always love physical books but I cannot believe it took the Lilly grant for me to finally buy a Kindle. For traveling, there is nothing better. I am always sure to have enough reading materials in case I get stuck somewhere (thanks again Mom and Dad). Now I will always be prepared without having to lug multiple books.
Go to enough museums, have enough conversations, read any history and you soon realize that the Irish narrative is one of continual invasions and robbing the Gaelic people of their language and culture. I do not know what to make of this yet but I think it is an interesting coincidence that I a began my sabbatical in Ireland and will end it on the Pine Ridge Reservation in my home state of South Dakota speaking with the Lakota.
My travel companion Joy has told me about John O’Donahue’s book Anam Cara since she first studied in Galway. I finally read it on the trip. It is beautifully written and so full of wisdom. Wow!
I love my job as a parish pastor but I also still love history, one of my college majors at Concordia, and I think I would have loved being a museum curator today. We visited a variety of museums which use technology to different degrees. The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin and King John’s Castle in Limerick both did masterful jobs using technology to tell stories.
When I was preparing for sabbatical I will admit that I was thinking of storytelling mostly with words, probably because I have always loved words. My other college major was English writing. But the art galleries and concerts we attended reminded me that the arts (music, painting, dance) can all tell stories very effectively.
Joy and I only spent a little under two hours with an intern at Narrative 4 in Limerick but it was an important piece of the trip. I love what this nonprofit does–teaches kids empathy through listening and storytelling. Thanks to my college English professor Dr. Dawn Duncan for recommending this stop.
Another small (if measuring time spent) but significant stop was the Moth and the Butterfly in Galway. They only meet once a month so I am so happy we were able to join them for the evening. The stories we heard are still swirling around in me. I bought Moth and Butterfly founder Orla McGovern’s book, Dublin Folktales for Children. I have added The Moth (produced by The Moth in NYC) to my list of podcasts. So far it is great.
Joy has been teaching in the United Arab Emirates for two school years. I knew hearing about her experience would be part of the trip. In addition to being proud of my friend for following her dream to live overseas, I am now fascinated by this country; I even looked up books about it while at the Newark airport yesterday. I picked up my mail today, which included the latest issue of The Christian Century, and turned to this article about religion in the UAE.
Finally, staying in Bed and Breakfasts is an amazing way to hear stories. I thought we would hear stories of the Irish people in the pubs in the evenings but it was hearing from our hosts upon arrival (or in their cars as they drove us somewhere) and then hearing from other guests over breakfast that ended up being the biggest surprise. What a gift to exchange stories over morning tea and toast.