It’s October. In the valley where I live secretive elves scatter pumpkins along the roadways and rock walls. No one knows who does this decorating, but it always makes me smile.
Why Journey to the Heights?
So I share with you the different things this means.
I grew up in the mid-west and lived my life east of the Mississippi River. I spent six years in Germany. Those years were lived at less than 1,000 feet above sea level, sometimes as low as 180 feet above sea level.
My house is at 7,400 feet in the Rocky Mountains. The move was a ‘journey to the heights.’
We live in an area called: Missouri Heights.
My faith expects me to grow and mature, representing the love of God and the life of Christ more and more. For those who personally know me, you recognize some days that is more evident than others. God obviously calls us to a higher level.
For me Journey to the Heights means these things.
I’m blessed with better health living in a higher elevation with a drier climate than any I enjoyed earlier in my lift.
I’m blessed by being surrounded with natural beauty, constantly changing. One can watch the massive skies with the clouds and various colors throughout the day. Stars appear close enough to touch.
I’m blessed to that God put me here, in this location for this time of my life and He is taking me to higher levels in my faith. This is a gift!
And so, I share Journey to the Heights with you!
We’ve been home a few weeks and thoughts of Ireland still resound in my mind.
Here are some photomontages of different aspects of Ireland that stand out for me.If one were to ask for a quick overview, I would respond by saying –
Green! It abounded. The first photo of the trees growing over the road, shaped by the bus traffic is a common sight.
Water and Beaches! They were everywhere. I loved the wind coming off the ocean; the ever-moving cloud scenes; the smell of the water and the freshness of the air. The beaches varied from being beautiful sand to rocky. It was very different seeing the Atlantic ocean looking in a westerly direction.
Sheep! They were everywhere. They appeared so different from the sheep I see in Colorado. They were shorter legged, more rounded in body and many were dyed to mark who they belonged to. They might be found in meadow fields, climbing rocky cliffs or close to the ocean. Except when we were in a city, we saw sheep everyday.
Tower Houses, Castles, Abbeys – old structures
From BeeHive house structures from 800AD, a lighthouse that’s been functioning for over 800 years, to medieval streets in the heart of cities — there were so many old structures. Some were still being used, some have been restored and some are in varying states of decay. It was difficult for me to comprehend just how old these structures are.
The Burren! This area was a surprise for me. From a distance it lacked the intense green so prevalent elsewhere. The surprise is how rich The Burren is with small plant growth; what a haven it is; and how rich it is in history.
The day we drove Dingle Peninsula, approaching Dingle, we could see a lighthouse in the distance but no signs leading to it. We turned around looking for a road leading to the beach and headed toward a little village called Beenbawn. There we found a small road leading to the shore with a view of the lighthouse on the other shore. The beach area was the first of many special places we would find during this trip. We watched a few people drive up the road, look at the water and turn around and leave. Our experience was much richer. As Tom climbed the higher rock walls over looking the water, I took a path between two rock walks, ultimately leading me down to the shore. The tide was out so I walked the sandy beach. The sound of the waves rolling in and then crashing against the outlying rocks before splashing back into the sea eliminated all sounds save for those from a few sea gulls on the beach. I was the only person exploring this beach. It was heaven!
I found colorful wildflowers, so small and delicate, growing on the sides and tops of the rock walls creating pockets of color against these dark reddish rocks. The sea was alive and vibrant; some of the waves created towering splashes as they crashed against the rocks.
This was the first of many enjoyable trips to the sea.
Cliffs of Moher
As we sat, we soaked up the sun, allowed the breeze blowing off the water to tussle our hair, breathed in the fresh ocean air and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks below.
Not all shores had beaches…
But they all had beauty
Salthill area outside Galway
Lunch on an island at a remote golf course tee overlooking the ocean…
The Hook Lighthouse Beach…
At one beach we met an older gentleman who had recently checked is fishing traps. He said, “The sea gets under your skin. I couldn’t live a day without coming down here.”
We packed up and headed out of Tralee, County Kerry. I’d gotten used to the “green” Ireland offers and had heard so many talk about.
We crested a hill and neither of us could believe what we saw. It did not look like the Ireland we had been introduced to. Our German friends called it a moonscape. I just thought it looked arid and barren.
A couple days later at a local perfumery (more about the perfumery another day), I learned the area is called the Burren and it offers the most diverse vegetation of anywhere in Ireland. There are only a few Irish plants that don’t grow in this area, and there are many only found here. In fact, there is a wild Irish found nowhere but here.
We walked the Burren and I was amazed. The limestone rocks have many cracks, crannies and holes. They are home to various plant life.
I understand why so many consider the Burren to be a very special place.
Here in the land of “50 shades of green” we’re enjoying ourselves.
While we admired the beauty here, it’s been suggested the sun is chasing us. We just experienced one of the longest, sunniest, warmest stretches in Ireland’s recent history.
Yesterday we were motorcycling in Alabama. Thanks to the generosity of a fellow biker, we were able to ride a Triumph through some of the hills and back roads. Few of the leaves have changed colors, so we were met with lush green most places we went. I kept thinking how much I always enjoyed the verdancy of the mid-west and southern states and realized I had been given my “green fix” on this weekend ride. It was a great day!
Sunday, we drove past a dead tree. Dead, yet the sight was amazing. On the top tree branches were small birds perched, almost like leaves on each branch. Hay fields, blue skies and the mountain were the backdrop for this scene. As we drove by, I wished I could share this vision with my grandmother. I would try to share visions of places I lived or visited in letters that passed between us. This was the sort of thing I would have written to her about. Ahhhh…the memories of all those letters filled with love, passing between my grandmother and I!
My husband surprised me with a lovely bracelet made by a local artist for my birthday. Meeting the artist was part of the surprise. She studied under her father and eventually took over his business. He established himself many years ago making jewelry. All pieces are totally handmade sporting a silver aspen leaf. Most well-known are the belt buckles. Each leaf is hand cut, engraved, and shaped. As special as the bracelet is, she said something that has not left my mind. When she creates a piece of art, it is not complete until it is worn. Each piece of jewelry tells the life story of the person wearing it. That means scratches or worn marks carry the history of the person who wore it.
How unlike my experience with other pieces of jewelry! I’ve had jewelers tell me if I bring a piece into them, they can buff any scratches out. I also frequently thought when a piece shows wear or scratches, it is no longer perfect.
I love this introduction to thinking that life is reflected in the seemingly imperfections caused by time and wear.
How true that is of us also. None of us are perfect though many spend time, effort and money to appear so. The reality is life leaves its mark on us. Some of those marks may be nothing more than laugh lines as we age. Or they may be more serious scars resulting from accidents or medical care. Some of the marks left on our life are not visible on the surface. It does not matter what they are, they are the marks of the life lived. This has left me wondering what kind of marks I’m leaving behind.