remembrances of days past some sweet, some mundane holiday songs, gone from the public square trees once adorned with lights and baubles now tossed by the curb crumpled wrapping paper fills the garbage bins
December marks the end of the calendar year the new year has arrived like a unblemished babe awaiting impact of what the world will lay on the babe or the impact the babe has on others
so for us, the new year comes it can be a clean slate a time for new beginnings or a holding place for the past’s baggage
baggage from the past you can chose to toss gone is the looking backwards and lingering regrets
with a clean slate and heartful of gratitude i have a new start
…arriving back in County Kerry, we started the week at Killarney Methodist Church. On previous trips we connected with the pastor, and learned she was no longer at the church. Due to serious health issues, she returned to her home in Northern Ireland. Please pray for her. We hoped to meet the new pastor, but she was out of town for several weeks. Alas, our plans, not God’s.
We stopped by Living Rock Church after their service and connected with some friends there and had a quick bite to eat. From there, we took a chance and drove to a small studio on the edge of town to check out an artist we’d met on a previous trip to the Isle. (Upon research back at the cottage, it was 2016. Can’t believe it’s been that long!) We’ve tried every trip we are here to see her, but her shop was never open when we stopped by. Sunday, we arrived at the Blue Door and as always, her window was filled with lovely bits of pottery art. There were lights on toward the rear, but the place looked closed. We didn’t see her inside, but Mary saw us looking at the window display. She came to the door to tell us the shop wasn’t open. After speaking a few minutes, she invited us in with the understanding her shop wasn’t set up for customers yet. She was in the creation stages of art. Her work is as exquisite as ever. Mary has a personality to warm hearts. We laughed and chatted about life, her work and common interests for an hour. We’ll be taking home a couple small bits of her art.
And winter in Ireland is everything one would expect of winter on a northern island in the Atlantic. Grey, blistering winds whipping against anything in its path, rain to intensify the grey—all things one thinks about being cold and damp. Burr… It has felt cold.
We’ll say it again. We’re grateful for the warmth of friendship, which abounds in plenty.
Again, it’s been a week of connecting and absorbing more and more about life in Kerry. An afternoon in the home of Chris and Eileen where we shared stories and laughed. Irish history and culture are deeply ingrained in their lives. It is only through time, trust and God’s grace we’ve been accepted, trusted and invited in to enjoy the richness hidden there.
The Tuesday fellowship, with more teaching on prayer and time breaking into pairs and praying one for the other. Good fellowship and worship.
A visit to a leather worker’s shop hidden in the woods along the road to Slea’s Head on the Dingle peninsula was time spent in wonder and delight. The shopkeeper’s humor was delightful. He also took the time to correct some of our pronunciations of local words or names. Again, more history gathered.
An afternoon, or two spent with writers. The group meets around joined tables in a side room of the pub. There they eat, laugh, do readings, encourage and critique. This week an elderly group of three were also having lunch in the same space. The gentleman came over to our tables to tell us they had come to the pub for lunch and wanted to apologize for eavesdropping. They totally enjoyed our stories and he wanted to share one of his own. Leslie invited him to come any Wednesday. Before leaving, they thanked us for making their lunch so enjoyable. There you go—God never wastes anything! We just don’t always see how it will be used.
Tom, connecting again with Michael. We met at Costa in Killarney. Costa started 50 years ago by Italian brothers in the UK. Today it is the Starbucks of Europe with over 4000 locations. It was purchased by Coca-Cola in 2019.
It’s that time where we have logistics to arrange for again. Phone service renewal, car rental renewal, all requirements of daily living. All taken care of again.
Out to a favorite place for pizza with Judy, a friend from the Tuesday fellowship and her daughter. The meal was good, the conversation and laughter even better.
Saturday the sun returned and its bright glow upon the land is welcome indeed. We each did a few projects in the cottage to help our generous landlord and loaded up the car to head out of town for the weekend for an overnight in Listowel.
We’ve spent many hours on the road this week, which translates to many contacts. We’re also reminded of our appeal of the Dingle Peninsula. The terrain in County Kerry, Ireland is rugged, the peninsula even more so. We enjoyed the rare rays of sunshine breaking through clouds and more clouds this last week. It was the wettest week so far, but temperatures have been unseasonably mild. We’re grateful!
We reconnected with Grace Baptist Fellowship on Sunday and spent a very relaxed lunch together after the service with the pastor and his wife and son. Monday we drove to Tralee to have lunch with the pastor and his wife from the Listowel Christian Fellowship. They are currently meeting via Zoom due to the number of members who have Covid. They hope to resume meeting at their building a week from now. One of their customs I really enjoy is that after service they move the chairs around and set up tables to enjoy a potluck meal together. It is always a great time of fellowship and building relationships. This is one of the few Irish born pastors in County Kerry and serves the same community he was raised in. We joined the Dingle Fellowship Group on Tuesday. We attended in person while one member joined us from Russia via Zoom. Much like at home, churches here use technology to their advantage to conduct weekly services, Bible studies, and stay in touch with members. Both of the pastors provided updates to their ministry. Their love for the communities showed in numerous ways. Our prayer for the Irish churches in County Kerry has been for God to raise up leadership from within the faith communities. Both pastors welcome such prayers.
Tuesday, after the fellowship, we took a different route and ended up enjoying a different section of coastline. We were drawn to the area hoping to see an ancient castle, or as the Irish say, an old tower house. We couldn’t get close as the structure was condemned, but it was fun seeing such an ancient structure. While walking around the area, we found an outdoor baptismal fount in the woods. The air was fragrant from the early spring blooms of the Gorse plant. They are everywhere, breaking forth with their bright yellow flowers.
We took off on Wednesday. We drove over to Adare, hoping to connect with an artist friend there. It was during the drive when we recognized the countryside appeared more civilized. The fields were larger. The land was more even. We keep passing large 4-wheel drive tractors with farm attachments on all the roads this trip. Adare is in County Limerick. It’s a picturesque town, home to one of Ireland’s 5-Star Hotel and Golf Resorts, the Adare Manor. It offers an afternoon high-tea which we indulged in on a previous trip. For this trip, the memories from a previous visit will suffice. While standing in front of a pub, reading the menu, a young man, about 30 something stopped to tell us, “You won’t go wrong there. This pub has the best food in the village.” His recommendation was all the encouragement we needed. So we entered and enjoyed a great lunch. We connected with our artist friend (Mary Liston) and again enjoyed her lovely textile art.
Thursday was the writing group. This was the largest group meeting they’ve experienced since Covid. There were two others, beside Linda, who had been Zoom members. It was a fun afternoon of readings, laughter, and good food. When creatives connect, there is always fun in the air.
The grey skies and rain on Friday did not dampen the warm fellowship in the home of one of the writers, Leslie. She and her hubby have a lovely cottage in the country.
Today we slept in and just went into Dingle for a “cuppa”. Besides being a tourist town during the season, it is also a commercial fishing village as it has one of the few protected harbors along the west coast.
Another week winds down and we recognize how quickly our time here is flying. There are so many others we hope to reconnect with. This week we will attend we will attend Tralee Baptist.
Jet-Lag has been difficult to shake this trip, but may finally be behind us. Yeah! Just as Jet-Lag may be behind, it appears many of the Irish COVID restrictions will also be behind us. You may ask, how does that affect us while we’re here?
No longer will we have to show vaccination proof to enter an eatery, or indoor facility. Seating at pubs and eating establishments will no longer be limited to a maximum of 6 per table. Establishments can return to their normal hours of operations, (pubs and restaurants were required to close by 8 pm) and the work from home orders have been lifted. Masks are still part of one’s attire. Travel restrictions in or out of the country remains unchanged at this time.
Most of week two was under the old rules. We’ve been walking the neighborhood, the beach and several of the towns. Sunday, Living Rock church provided the opportunity for corporate worship and the chance to connect with a few folks we knew from previous travels and meet a new couple. A group of us went to the hotel next door for lunch, where we sat in the rear of the dining facility occupying four tables of four in close enough proximity to see one another, but not really converse between tables. Our drive home from Killarney afforded an opportunity to be at Inch Beach for sunset. This is one of our favorite walking beaches. You can literally drive out on the sand and park as close to the waves as you dare. What a treat!
Tuesday, we attended the house fellowship in Dingle, held at the location where we’re staying. It was the first “in person” meeting in some time, but most were familiar faces. It was good to connect with them again and participate in their study. The format has evolved, resulting more in a teaching than an interactive study. Everyone enjoyed the fellowship of being face to face with in person laughter.
Wednesday was the local writers meeting in person at the Meadowlands Hotel in Tralee. We were seated in an alcove area of two tables and there eight in attendance. What a treat for Linda to connect in person. Some of this group is also part of the weekly Zoom group which meets on Thursday. Good food, good stories, good friendship. It was a fine afternoon. When Tom arrived, one of the ladies asked who he was. Another replied, “my cousin.” They then realized he was Tom. Much laughter ensued. This woman and I have spoken before. Due to similarities within the family stories, strongly suspect there may be a family link and hope to resolve this question during our time here this year.
Friday, while out walking, we received a call stating there’d been a cancellation and if we could make it to Tralee Friday evening, we could attend a performance of “The Importance of Being Ernest.” Yes, we could meet the schedule. This was a high school performance, done well and entertaining. The show ended early enough for us to be able to just get into one of the restaurants we’ve enjoyed in the past. This rounded out the evening with good food, good memories and a great chat with the owner of the establishment. It’s a small family owned business, and he spoke of the challenges of COVID and some of the changes he has seen. His expectation is the impacts aren’t over yet even though the restrictions are being lifted.
We are certainly living in uncharted, ever changing times. Isn’t it wonderful to know, God is NOT surprised by any of this and HE is still in control.
Ho, Ho, Ho! The stockings are all hung on the mantel with care.
Not with hopes of gifts, but stuffed full of memories from Christmases past.
Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa should come on a sleigh.
Ha, ha, ha—no snow here, but then there are no children here either. So perhaps no one will notice.
The music of the season fills the airwaves, the shopping spaces, vehicles and homes. Taking listeners on journeys back to their past, those years of prior Christmases. Some smile, some shake their head and think it is all nonsense. I’m one who smiles with memories of being a child, memories of being a mom and surprising a child. My memories overflow and allow me to derive pleasure watching others as they celebrate the season.
Back home, it is quiet here. Not an eerie quietness, but a quietness that settles like a soft comforter one wants to snuggle into. This season has brought contentment, joy and peace. I revel in these feelings.
Lights and baubles bedazzle the tree; some shiny and some not.
Each bauble holds the secret of its history waiting for the dark when only the lights of the tree allow them to speak of their origins and how they became part of this holiday tradition. How I would enjoy hearing them tell their own story, how they feel being out of the box for a brief season.
The nativity scenes on full display sit in several rooms, emitting their own scenes and memories from years past within the family tree. Now they live together in our home, with our family, and share their pride of being treasured for so many years. Their story continues to live in our lives.
Ho, Ho, Ho!
May this Christmas season come to your home and bring hope for the future, eyes to see the good in others, and peace to all who enter through your doorway, thus leaving you with many happy memories.
This is the first year since leaving Wisconsin that we have a Christmas tree inside the house. Our Colorado years sported a dressed tree on the deck outside our dining area. Sturdy ornaments able to withstand the elements donned the tree. Many of the years, dustings of snow graced the branches and sometimes birds would land in the tree. All those years our fragile ornaments hid in boxes wrapped in tissue. It was a treat to open those boxes and see treasures stored away.
The decorating process unleashed memories from years back, memories of family events, memories of friends. The nativity set I grew up seeing at my grandparent’s house now lives at mine. Unwrapping each piece stirs memories from my childhood, when its home was a corner table in their living room. I treasure the story of how the set was acquired. First the stable with the holy family, then, as finances allowed, they added to the collection. The pieces don’t match, but they warm my heart as it’s part of my history. Several years back, my husband purchased a new stable for the set. It was our way of putting our own touch on this set.
The other set comes from hubby’s family and was purchased by his parents many years ago on a trip to Italy. The pieces all have exquisite facial features, all are in the same style. It is a simplistic piece that finds its home on an end-table each Christmas. I love both sets, and unwrapping them is our introduction to the holiday season.
Unpacked ornaments lay on the table, ready for the tree. Hubby picked up a piece and said, “Is there a history here? I see so many snowmen.”
I chuckle. “Yes. I have a friend who knew I liked snowmen and for many years, she gave me an ornament or two for my tree.”
I’m grateful he asked. It brought back so many pleasant holiday memories after my children were adults and I lived alone. Friends are so important in life.
He asked about other ornaments or decorations. Some were from my mom; some made by children; some purchased on travels; some, I don’t remember. Then we talked about some ornaments he brought.
I have many things my mother gave to me over the years. So much has changed since last year when we were absorbed with cleaning, unpacking and getting settled in our new home. There were no Christmas decorations. In retrospect, I recognize that may have been healthier for me. This year, I’m able to pick up a piece and enjoy the thought of my mom giving the ornament or decoration to me. Many of the items reflected her personality. The simple styles, or elegant lines, reflected who she was and how much care she gave in selecting gifts for others. Last year, I wasn’t ready to appreciate the memories associated with those items.
Nothing else matters more than sharing kind thoughts with friends and those you care about. Let me tell you a few reasons why. Friends carry one another burdens. Friends make friends laugh. And friends make life fun. I have friends scattered around the globe and they enrich my life. I’m the connection point in this story that spans three countries. I hope the story stretches even farther.
It all began as the result of a writing prompt from an Irish group I’m part of. They gave us about 10 minutes to answer the following question.
If you were one of the seven dwarfs, which one would you be?
My initial reaction. Ugh. What am I going to write?
Then the words flowed. I read, and to my amazement, the group laughed.
The next day, I was chatting with an overseas friend, suffering from the effects of COVID, and she stated she knew she was grumpy, and hated feeling so. I offered to share what I written, hoping she’d find humor in the piece.
What I received back was totally unexpected. It was delightful and left me laughing. My husband, not wanting to be left out of the humor, read both pieces and joined me in the laughter.
Words are so powerful. If you can share something which will lighten another person’s burden—I encourage you to do so.
Here are the two pieces. If you have a response to either, please leave a comment.
Who knows what type of dialog we may get going here…
If you were one of the seven dwarfs, which one would you be?
Today, I would be GRUMPY. You know how they say one gets up on the wrong side of the bed? How can that be? I share my bed, which means I only have ONE side to get up from. If I’m GRUMPY today, and only have one side to get up from, does that mean I’ll be GRUMPY again tomorrow, and the day after?
I can’t bear the thought of having the name GRUMPY hung around my neck. It feels like a two ton weight. Carrying this burden around continues to wear me down.
“Get outa my way! Can’t you see? I’ve got a load to carry and you’re making my work harder than it needs to be.”
“Don’t you smile at me! There’s nothing to be happy about today.”
“You. You, over there… Stop talking about me. You’d be GRUMPY too if you had to lug this rock around with no one to help you.”
“Don’t go telling me what to do. I’ve gotta mind of my own.”
“When will this terrible day end? …and who else is going to show up thinking they can tell me what to do.”
“What’s wrong with this porridge? It isn’t sweet, and it has lumps in it?”
“Time for bed again already?”
“Hey you. Shut off the lights and shut up your mouth. I wanta get some sleep.”
Hi, I am GRUMPY this week and I am told Covid is responsible for that bad feeling. I have been SNEEZY, SLEEPY, DOPEY and DOC too. I was so HAPPY to talk to you again today, but when I am better, I think I will be my old self BASHFUL again xx
All the dwarfs loved your poem and amazed you got that out in a few minutes. Thank you for sharing it with me, love from BASHFUL xx
Frequently, I’m asked how I’m enjoying my new home.
My response flows.
“I’m loving it more every day.”
Perhaps I’m under the influence of the intoxicating fragrances that waft through the air. Depending upon where I stand on the property today, I might smell orange blossoms, or alyssum, or eucalyptus, or other yet to be identified scents. Each offers aromas I enjoy, and I savor those moments of fragrance.
Regularly, I’m learning something new about the plantings on the property. The former owners enjoyed the diversity found in this locale, so there’s a variety of mature plantings to enjoy. Our styles may be different, but our love of plants and being outdoors to enjoy them is something we share with those owners. We’re grateful they invested in the property. We’ve relocated and moved some things to create different spaces or zones; this visually opened the approach to the house; yet maintained almost all the species we worked with. It’s a process and we’re comfortable knowing that it will all take time. I wake up, look outdoors and say,