We ended-up continuing along the path I was first reluctant to follow. I was brought to the B&B and introduced to the loveliest bunch of people from Ireland and other parts of the world! They were all really intrigued and wondering where I had sprung from! “Winnie (which is this special ladys’ name) goes for a walk and suddenly she comes back with this girl, who has obviously just gotten up out of bed - judging by how untidily she has her hair tied back into 4 little buns - and is also a local but sounds strangely foreign, how odd!” Anyhow, the group of 20 welcomed me and they were happy for me to sit in with the service they had planned. But first, Winnie and I had time to kill, or actually, the clock was ticking way too fast and we only had an hour to continue this extremely interesting conversation.
Well, never before have I met an African woman who I’ve gotten so closely acquainted with in such a short space of time. Never before have I been offered an insight into the harsh life of crime, injustice, struggle and poverty that is their natural way of African life. Never before has a 5 minute walk on a Sunday morning in late October blown me away so much due to the randomness in meeting such a gentle woman who looks amazing yet seems to have lived 9 lives! Never before have I been asked to write a book on her tales! Which is what she did. Who knows what lies ahead…
The service took place in a sunroom and it was like we were in this huge glass cabinet that hung above a view that was out of this world! But I was only 5 minutes away from home!! These words were constantly screaming in my ears! These people felt so lucky to be staying in such a place……… and I LIVED JUST DOWN THE ROAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, I questioned who exactly was the lucky one. I felt it was me!
I sat and listened to the service. Some of them gave talks on life situations, lessons and growth. A lady from Dublin, a guy from Korea and a lady from South Africa. I related to them but had these fleeting moments of being unable to grasp how I had landed myself in this glass cabinet with 20 people who were so welcoming and open. I was sitting beside a lady who I had only met 2 hours ago, who was so warm and cosy, so wise and yet still questioning her past, her present and her future - she was 20 years my senior and still on a journey to find out what the purpose of her suffering was. Does it ever end? Will we forever be searching for our faith and questioning our beliefs with every circumstance life presents us with? A question that has answers without end..
So there I was, in Arklow, my hometown. I was looking out over the Irish sea, the bright blue sky, the green hills, the cows in the field, the heat of the sun coming through the glass ceiling. I was surrounded by people who didn’t question my faith, who didn’t judge my beliefs, who didn’t preach me to take on theirs. I couldn’t help but question religion, beliefs, Christianity, spirituality, diversity, unity, journey‘s of life.. And so many others things. Did I agree with everything I heard? No I didn’t. Did I feel like a hypocrite for being there even though I don’t believe? No, which I actually thought I would. Did I feel out of place? No, because I didn’t even feel to experiencing this, it was too random! And so, when you don’t feel to be in a certain place, you don’t feel to “out of a certain place” either!
What a morning this turned out to be! It was 1pm by the time the service ended. Winnie brought me back to that spot where she had so magically appeared out of the shadows. We wandered that same path again. She said she approached me because I too seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. This was a meeting that happened for some strange reason. And I was already becoming aware of them. Just on my doorstep here in Ireland, there lies so much magic. Do we have to go the ends of the earth to find that magic and to have such experiences? Some people wander their whole lives and this whole earth, in search of just such moments that will offer a spark to brighten their days. And, I was offered it without straying more than 5 minutes from my desk on a bright Sunday morning in Arklow. On your doorstep there can be just as much magic as there can be anywhere in the world. All you need to do is open your eyes, open your front door and become aware.. Because it really is all there!