With Irish Believers In Sickness And In Health

I flew to Shannon and ate goat cheese tartlet at Skellig Dingle Hotel. I became ill. A pity, since I had four sessions to lead with the clergy of the Church of Ireland Diocese of Limerick, Killaloe and Ardfert. followed by meetings at the Catholic Diocese of Clare youth centre and Kilkee Methodist Church and with individual friends. Bishop Trevor finished the first and led the second session. In between bed and basin I completed all other engagements. As Providence would have it, our themes included shared vulnerabilities and pilgrimage.

At Dingle we explored how, even when our calling is uphill and people dislike our agenda, we can bloom where we are planted, love people, work at a life-sustaining rhythm, assist a re-flowering of Ireland's wisdom tradition through pilgrimage and poetry, soul friends and summer schools, reflective habits and new monastic insights.

But I never got to swim with Fungie the dolphin.

An inspired group of pioneers are re-claiming the wells and creating pilgrim routes in four stages in County Clare. We discussed the recovery of the local Christian memory, what people do on pilgrimages to make them spiritually vibrant, the growing literature on the subject, and their inclusive nature.

Kilkee solicitor Michael Nolan told our evening meeting how he had helped to form a Trust to turn Scattery Island into a public pilgrimage centre with links to Iona and Lindisfarne. Due to lack of funds they handed it over to the Office of Public Works who maintain it. With good will this makes it possible to pursue the original vision. The pilgrim pioneers may see Scattery as the culmination of the longest route (c.f. Santiago). I will now seek further advice to see if folk from varied backgrounds might become 'not strangers, but pilgrims together' for whom Scattery is 'an Island of Promise' or a 'Place of Resurrection'. It was lovely, earlier in the day, to sit with a friend overlooking Senan's Isle from the mainland, and to meditate and pray over it. We focussed on Angels Hill. Iona has an Angels Hill, and I once again look out from Lindisfarne to the place where angels escorted Aidan to heaven.

Posted at 01:00am on 16th October 2011
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