Jun 18, 2012

How Ireland Healed Me

It feels strange to say this, but I had that blog title in mind before I ever went to Ireland. At the time I thought it might have to do with recovering from the grief of my sister's death. She passed away August 19, 2010 and we had already planned our trip to Ireland for that October.

As the trip neared, however, my 86-year-old father's health seriously declined. As much as I enjoyed the trip, concern about him overshadowed everything. He passed away two days before I got back home and that blog title fell away. I just couldn't think what or how I would write something that would fit it. I did write about my father's passing, and how Tom and I were photographing rainbows at what we later learned was the hour of my father's death. That was a kind of healing, absolutely. But I still didn't think I had the right post to go with that title.

Fast forward to today, the day after Father's Day and 18 months after my father died, I suddenly realized what the problem was. I was thinking I would have to go back to Ireland to experience that healing. (And maybe something of the sort will occur when I make that trip next April.) But I think I missed the meaning of something that happened back then.

If you believe time heals, then you understand why it probably took so long. Finally I am able to understand what was happening. The day we got the news, two days before we were to fly home, I opened my Facebook page on my b & b host's computer and got a chat message from a man named Patrick. I had forgotten that we had been chatting before I left home about possibly meeting up for coffee in Dublin. We met him the next day in front of Trinity College. I'd told him about my father when he contacted me on Facebook, and it seemed as though he took us under his wing, gently, understanding how shell-shocked we were.

Trinity College, Dublin
I had never met Patrick before that day. I knew little about him. I vaguely recalled that he was clergy in the Church of Ireland. We had, and still have, just one mutual Facebook friend. He took us to see the Book of Kells, guided us around, giving us historical tidbits on all the exhibits. Then he took us on a walking tour, pointing outwe would have otherwise overlooked as we headed over to Christ Church where he works. He also teaches at Trinity College, if I'm not mistaken. He gave us an insider's tour and then treated us to tea in the crypt where he gave me a gift, a devotional book from Glenstal Abbey.

Here is one of Patrick's favorite quotes from Facebook:  "All will be well, and all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well" -- Julian of Norwich

Later that evening, Tom and I decided to stop into a pub to eat. We found one that looked nice and went in and ordered a drink and a snack. I even snapped a photograph of the menu, although I don't know why. It just seemed so...Irish and historical, I suppose. As we left the waiter handed us both a keychain with the pub's name on it. Funny, I didn't think we were acting like geeky tourists.

It wasn't until much later I realized we had gone to one of the best known pubs in Dublin, one that is popular with tourists and locals alike, one that is mentioned in James Joyce's novel, Ulyssess. Davy Byrnes.

It just seemed that when Tom and I were in no place emotionally to see the wonders that city offers, we were guided to them nonetheless.

Yes, Ireland healed me. In many ways, but mostly that trip opened my eyes to how God will send the right people to you when you need them, and carry the load when life threatens to paralyze you. It's how God used Ireland and her people to heal me, to be more accurate.

Maybe this won't be my only post with this title. We'll see....

Jun 6, 2012

The Sidewalks of New York

One of my readers, Alexis, shared this YouTube video with me. Thought you'd like it.

Jun 5, 2012

My Novel Images

Are you a visual person? I am. I've collected some photographs to inspire me while I work on the Ellis Island Series. Most of them I printed off websites to keep in a folder. But I saved a few on my computer and thought you might like this glimpse into New York City, circa 1900.

This photo shows some Italian immigrants. Book Two in the series features Italians. These women were apparently excellent bakers. My character loves to cook. (Yep, Italian. Can't ignore the food!)

This is an incredibly sharp photograph taken of immigrants in Battery Park. I can just see my characters as they leave the ferry to go the immigrant aide society that will help them get settled in America.

This photograph comes from Thresholdgirl's blog. It is a photograph of a woman named Elizabeth Fair, who was Douglas MacArthur's first cousin and this blogger's husband's great aunt. But, I could not help but think when I looked at this woman's face, that it was really Annie Gallagher, the main character in Book Three of the Ellis Island Series. Petite, red head, Irish, determined in a quiet sort of way--can you see it? (I also felt bad for this woman because I could only imagine how uncomfortable she was in that corset. Or at least I think she was uncomfortable. That's my modern mind coming into play.)

The male protagonist in Book One is Owen McNulty. He's a policeman. Not this policeman, but this could be his captain.

 For Book Two I've been researching shoe factories from this time period because my main character works at one. I found these fabulous photographs for inspiration. The bottom one is not Sofia Falcone, however, the character in my book. Nothing against this young lady, but my Sofia has darker hair is much more attractive. (Although the girl in this photograph would look prettier with a smile. I guess she didn't love her job.)

That's it for now. Thanks for taking this walk back in time with me!

Jun 2, 2012

Continuing John O'Donohue's Four Elements: Water

The Tears of the Earth

A new source. A stream of consciousness. These are some of the terms O'Donohue points out as evidence of our enate understanding that water provides a meaningful metaphor for all that is fresh and new and flowing, a continual element of renewal.

He goes on to talk about other elements of water: it takes on other shapes, it's temporary, allowing bouyancy but only temporarily, formless, free flowing.

O'Donohue notes how important water is to our daily lives. The human body is over 90% water, we cook and clean with it, use it to grow things. He says there is a dark side to water. It has no face. It's anonymous and offers no intimacy like landscape or fire. No one understands the duplicity of water better than a professional fisherman. O'Donohue once asked a fisherman from the Aran Islands what he thought of the ocean. "You would never get to know the sea. The sea always surprises. And sometimes when it is calmest the most sinister storm is secretly building and about to explode."

Thirst is also related to water, and the Bible uses this metaphor as spiritual need. (Psalm 42) Water is the difference between life and death in the physical world, so thirsting for God presents a powerful message.
Quenching Thirst

Another illustration of water is tears. O'Donohue says there is relief to be found in tears. "Despite the pain felt in the weeping, the result can be a greater sense of peace and balance. It is the unseen, the kept tears that often cause the most destruction."


It's those bits of wisdom that make this book worth the read. The book has a bit of randomness to it, reflections on the elements, and that's because that's essentially what it is. I do think it is worth wading through because O'Donohue had a type of insight that is not readily found but truly needed.

There is more in this chapter, including water's role in the creation of earth as described in the Book of Genesis. Water as ocean, river, rain. Plenty to think on. I'd love to hear what other readers think!