Why Volunteer?

October 12, 2019

“Whatever community organization, whether it’s a women’s organization, or fighting for racial justice … you will get satisfaction out of doing something to give back to the community that you never get in any other way.” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg

My husband had been volunteering for a year at our church’s Friday morning breakfast version of a “soup kitchen.” He encouraged me to join him. “See what it’s like,” he said. My reply, “As a minister, I volunteer 24/7. No thank you.” Finally, after some more nudging, I decided to give it a try.

It was winter and the place was overly crowed with dozens of house-less and hungry people. The visuals, sounds and smells were a bit of a turn off. I admit it. I was judgmental. What sealed the deal for me ever returning was when I was asked to walk a disheveled woman down a long hallway to the bathrooms. Alone. I attempted small talk but she wasn’t having it. I suspected a meth addiction and thought it best to not engage, so we walked in silence.

I stood outside the bathroom for several minutes. During that time my monkey mind started creating all sorts of stories. Was she using drugs? Did she hide a gun? Is going to kill herself or me? It took a lot of effort to stay centered, grounded and focused. She emerged after about 10 minutes. We walked in silence as we both returned to the kitchen area. Later, a volunteer told me that 10 minutes in the bathroom is sometimes the only alone time a homeless person gets. I was humbled by that reality but still feel like I was not a fit for this type of volunteerism. “They don’t need my fear or judgements,” I professed.

Fast forward to last summer. I had been in a funk for several months due to many deaths, a threatened lawsuit over a story I wrote, even a stalker making allegations against my ministry and one of our ministers. My husband watched me wallow in self-pity. One sunny Friday morning, he again invited me to join him as a volunteer for the breakfast kitchen. “It’ll get you outside of yourself. Please give it another try.” My thought—Oh why not?

My life took a sudden turn on the upward spiral that day. The love in the room, from the volunteers and most of the “guests,” was palpable. I had a grand time serving English muffins with cheese, refilling cereal boxes, doing dishes, and cleaning up. But most of all it was the connections. Anam Caras connecting, soul friends meeting for 90 minutes of service. We, the volunteers, serving the guests. The guests serving us with their presence, many expressing gratitude. Even the non-verbal guests, some mentally ill and some drug affected, made occasional eye contact. There’s no paycheck or reward in the world when those moments happen. That, to me, is the Christ Consciousness.

Last Friday, as I drove to my weekly volunteer appointment, I had the following thoughts.

I woke up to an alarm on my already charged iPhone.
I had shelter, bedding and clothes.
I took a hot shower in my bathroom with the furnace going.
I wore (almost) clean clothes.
I had breakfast with gourmet coffee.
I drove in a car filled with gas, the heat on, including seat warmers.
I parked and pondered.

In a heart beat I could be any one of our kitchen guests. I am so blessed!

If I profess Oneness, which I do, then I know I am one with everyone in that overly crowded room at my church. I get why my beloved spiritual home, First Baptist Church (American Baptist) states that we are a Matthew 25 church: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Over these past few months, I’ve become acquainted with one of the guests who has the same name as my friend who died in July. There’s a sweet family with 4 little kids. I now get hugs from them. When I’m in downtown McMinnville doing errands or meeting a friend for lunch, I get waves from some of the guests that are perceived by others as annoying homeless trash.

We are living in trying times. It’s very easy to wallow. Complain. Make excuses. Shut down and isolate. Poor meeeeeee! I challenge you. If you are in those murky waters, like I was last summer, then get out of yourself and do something nice for someone else. Connect! And daily, give thanks for all that you have. You are alive. You are awake. You are the holy one.

Three Deaths

September 28, 2019

“I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.” ~Lilly Tomlin

Last spring, during my Scotland tour, I had a spontaneous dialogue about death with a local woman. You know, those light and frothy kind of conversations. She had lost a sister in a car accident. I was grieving a dear friend back home who was actively dying. We both knew this about each other in advance, likely through her mother and/or being Facebook friends. But this day we happened to be strolling about the sacred isle of Iona off Scotland’s southwest shores. I was captivated by the massive and ornate Iona Abbey, and even more so by the “Street of the Dead” that led from the abbey to the nearby burial ground. For over 1,400 years, I wondered how many living people had carried the dead on this road towards their final resting place. Aloud, I said to my friend, “If these stones could talk, I wonder what they’d tell us about death.” Her reply rocked my world. She thought it originated in South America somewhere. (I’ve since read that it’s a Mexican saying.)

“There are three deaths.

  • The first is when you realize that you are immortal, that you will die one day.
  • The second is when the physical body stops functioning. The literal death we will all experience.
  • The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”

I literally stopped in my tracks. Knowing me, I likely gasped, “Say, what?” The notion of a point in time when my name is spoken for the last time!!!. Unless you are famous, or infamous, there will be a time when someone says your name again. What feeling does that trigger in you?

At first, I felt kind of sad. Like my life would be meaningless unless I had an active legacy that would require people to say my name. But the more I thought about it, the less personal it became.

I wonder if this is why, when I’m in old cemeteries, I like to say aloud the names of the deceased. Maybe this is why in many women’s circles we say our names, followed by the names of our mothers and grandmothers. I think of Aho Mitakuye Oyasin, a Lakota statement that means “all my relations,” honoring all of the praying one’s ancestors, living and dead.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the “three deaths.” What does it mean to you if your name is never spoken again? Or the name of a loved one you’ve already lost? If I get enough responses (brief and succinct, please) I will compile them and circulate. Let the dialogue continue.

Tell Me Who You Are

September 20, 2019

“When you put labels on someone, it’s like sticking them in a box
with no air holes until they slowly suffocate.
People aren’t just one thing. They’re many things.”
― Sadie Allen, American author

Years ago, I participated in a weekend workshop titled “On Course.” The co-facilitators took us through a variety of exercises meant to open our hearts and our minds. Boy, did they! I swear each of we 30 participants had at least one melt down with tears. But what made it all worth it were the exercises designed to get us in touch with our spirits, our essence, the seats of our soul. In particular, I have a vivid memory of a dyad where there was one who questioned me and, each time, I had to give a different and deeper answer. The question was “Tell me who you are.” Sounds simple, but after several minutes of back and forth, the Q&A broke down barriers rooted in my ego. Knowing that my true self is love, that my true nature is love, my life’s path opened in ways I had not imagined. It seems like in an instant I knew that I was loving, loved and loveable. All three were, up until that moment, previously lacking in my life. The exercise stuck! My exchange might have been something like this:

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I’m a woman
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am Kate.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I’m a daughter, sister, and aunt.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am a work in progress.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am funny and witty and smart.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I’m a spirit having a human experience.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am a child of The Divine
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am enough.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: I am love.
Q: Thank you

Q: Tell me who you are.
A: (silence)
Q: Thank you.

Q: Welcome home, to yourself.

Do you see the pattern? We are not our names. We are not our roles in our families, at work and in society. We are not our ages, genders or a race. We are not our religions or belief systems. We are not the number on the bathroom scales. We are all of those things and more. Knowing this, the bundle of self-identifications can burst through the labels to a new and improved you.

Say aloud right now: I…am…love. Say it upon waking in the morning and again before sleep. Catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror and say it aloud. Stretch yourself and say it to someone else. Did you know that you are love?

Armor by Shelly Walker

August 14, 2019

“Some of us walk around with a necklace of hope, an armor of sanity, but at the end of the day, they always come off. We reveal our naked, vulnerable, real selves.”  ― Karen Quan, author

It’s been three years since we received the heartbreaking diagnosis for our precious wee boy: muscular dystrophy. No treatment. No cure. He would live to see 20 “if we were lucky.” I don’t remember much about the next year. I was swimming in a fog of grief and fear. Oh, I survived, but I did it by putting the needs of everyone before my own. Because what I needed was to fall apart and I didn’t have the luxury of falling apart.

I had grief and fear and four children to take care of. That’s when I started numbing, building an ambitious armor around my tender, hurting heart so I wouldn’t be pulled under by the pain. My armor guaranteed my survival.

Then the presidential election happened, November 2016, and the division that ripped our country also tore my family apart. As my naivete was stripped away, I learned that people I loved, adored, and respected shared very different values from me. This was the first election that I took personally. And it hurt. My armor became heavier as I learned to navigate this new world.

I call this time in my life, these two very difficult years, my miniature disaster. At some point in life, most people experience their own miniature disasters, these pivots in time where life gets REAL. Everything we think we know is put to the test. We learn who our friends are. They are the ones who don’t take our stuff personally, neither our outbursts nor our withdrawals, and just keep loving us. Loving us hard.

We learn where to look for God. We find God in the smallest moments of wonder and laughter and raw pain. We find God in the quiet moments of prayer and in the small celebrations, in the mountains and in the mundane.

And, eventually we learn that as seductive as it can be, putting on that emotional armor to try to protect our tender hearts just isn’t worth it. You see, the problem with armor is that the weight becomes unbearable and it keeps us from feeling the good stuff, too.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to sacrifice the good things in life in order to avoid the hard things so I keep putting the armor down and feeling ALL the feelings, knowing that the grief and pain I carry is, in Truth, also a gift.

As I lay my armor down, I find that I am, in fact, not drowning in my pain. I get sad. I get scared. But much more, I get grateful. Grateful for my family. Grateful for our human family. Grateful that the light is being called to banish the shadows.
What I know is that when I choose Love, when I choose connection, when I choose gratitude, the ways of Light open before my feet. As a friend of mine said the other day, “Strong back. Soft belly. Wild heart.”

A strong back, born of knowing Who You Are. A soft belly, making the choice to stay open and vulnerable. A wild heart, creative and daring and free to make this world a better place. As Dr, King said, “Love will have the final word.” Put down the armor. Be the Love.

Shelly Walker is a licensed Spiritual Practitioner, serving at New Thought Center for Spiritual Living in Lake Oswego, Oregon. You can join her Facebook community at https://www.facebook.com/ShellWalk1.

A Tribute

July 30, 2019

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” 
― Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Story Girl

We first met while standing in line in downtown Portland to see the 1983 film, “The Big Chill.” Perfect first encounter for two youthful baby boomers, both of us in our early 30s. Big hair, shoulder pads, traveling the upward spiral in our chosen careers. It was an instant connection. So much of life ahead. Our 30s, 40s, 50s, and now 60s.

Our second meeting was in Eugene, Oregon. My boyfriend at the time was in law school there. One of Judie’s best friends was my boyfriend’s good friend. So, my boyfriend says to me, “We’re going white water rafting with Judie, Bryan (Judie’s husband) and Jeff.” OMG. I was frantic thinking Judie was this macho Pacific Northwest outdoors chick. A tough, risk taking adventurer. The opposite of me. That perception would soon change.

We arrived at Jeff’s house, me wearing a denim sun dress with a bright red sweater. Judie entered the room in a summer ensemble, green and brown top and shorts complimenting her lithe figure, and matching earrings. Judie says to me, “I love your red sweater.” My reply, “Thanks. I’m a winter.” Judie perked up and said, “I’m an autumn.” Thus, began a beautiful and colorful friendship of nearly 40 years.

Who remembers colors from the 1980s?

Given that Judie and I both refused to go white water rafting—way too dangerous for us city slickers–it was suggested that instead we rent roller blades and tool around Eugene. Judie and I looked at each other, shook our heads and at the same time say, “Nope.” What did transpire was a picnic on the bank of the McKenzie River. The men folk swam in the river while Judie and I stayed on shore and shared our visions for working with women and children. Empowering them to live their best lives, long before Oprah made that a meme.

Since Judie’s terminal diagnosis in February, due to pancreatic cancer that had already metastasized, I have had a jumble of memories surface. All good. I can’t say that about all of my friends, but I can about Judie. This reminds me of my wedding in 1995.

A videographer was roaming the reception, inviting people to share memories of Doug and myself. The photog asked Judie, “What does Kate mean to you?” Judie looked confused while starting to twirl a lock of hair, a life-long habit that meant she was thinking. Finally, she replied, very slowly, “I don’t think Kate has ever been mean to me.” We’ve had a lot of good laughs about that, even in these past few weeks as her life force was waning.

This same videographer mistook Judie’s 3-year old son for Tyler, my 5-year old stepson. The photog asked Blake, “How do you like Kate being your new stepmom?” Blake started to twirl a lock of his hair while looking mighty confused.

When it came time for the toast, we asked Bryan, Judie’s husband and Blake’s dad, to share a personal message about us. Which he did, and quite beautifully so. When it came time for the toast, Bryan lifted his glass and declared boldly, “Here’s to Kate and Dave.” Remember my boyfriend in Eugene? That was Dave.

Memories are what keep us connected, especially during times of loss. Memories are what allow us to move forward with life, even during times of sadness and sorrow. Memories are to be treasured.

Judie, I will forever remember you. Thank you for co-creating so many beautiful memories with me and my family, and so many mutual friends. “Family by choice” we used to say, and it’s indeed true. I’ve lost a beloved family member. A true sister of my soul. Now my forever anam cara. Judie, when we meet again, I wonder what movie will be showing in heaven? I’ll get the popcorn. You get the milk duds. And yet another memory surfaces. “Guilty pleasures,” she used to say.

Sadness

July 15, 2019

“Mostly I have felt myself becoming a servant of sadness. I am still looking for the beauty in that.”  ― Maggie Nelson, American author

There are many threads weaving through the tapestry of my life. Some are vibrant and bold, representing the highs. Some are dark and drab, representing the lows in my life. I see beauty in every thread, but there’s one thread that haunts me. The thread of sadness over not having children in this lifetime. I’ve been sitting with that reality since Mother’s Day when I again drifted into the dark pool of sadness. If I shared with you the many reasons as to why this day is always hard for me, you would understand. But I know my sorrow isn’t in the story. It’s in me. It’s my thread of sadness. Doesn’t it too deserve to be in my beautiful tapestry?

So, after yet another gloomy Mother’s Day last May, I asked myself: What if I take this thread of sadness to the grave with me? Would it be okay? Would you let me just be sad and not try to explain, praise or cheer me up?

My beloved niece, Tammy, comes to mind. She is very much a daughter of my soul. Her son, my godson, was killed ten years ago at age 18. The case is still unsolved. Tammy will carry that monumental thread of grief in her tapestry for the rest of her life. No one can or should take that away from her. But she’s learned to live with the sorrow, every moment of every day. That’s the nature of grief. No one will put her down for that.
But sadness? Why is it bad to simply be sad?

“You can’t keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.”  ― Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons

Once I admitted to myself that this mother thread of sadness will hold a prominent place in the tapestry of my life, the sadness started to lift. I found beauty in the sadness. By not talking about it or admitting it, the nest had gotten bigger and bigger. Is that why Mother’s Day has gotten harder and harder over the years, and not easier? My guess is yes. Speaking my truth set me free. Thank you for being my witness. This bird is soaring once again. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Anam Cara Journey Circles

Four new women circles, looking at life through the lens of archetypes, are coming to the Portland area this Fall. Details soon!

Rev. Beth Astarte – Sacred Sensuality & Sexuality
Rev. Angelica (Anut) Martinez – The Fool’s Journey (tarot inspired)
Rev. Krystal Ashling – Tools for Awakening the Unconscious
Jamie Cedar Rogers, M.A. – Archetypes in Nature

Treading Water

June 17, 2019

“I had been simply treading water, settling on surviving and avoiding pain rather than being actively involved in seeking out life.” Kay Redfield Jamison, clinical psychologist & writer

Treading water is a favorite way to accelerate my heartrate in the arthritis swim class I attend. I chuckle when I remember how, in training as a water safety instructor, we had to tread water for ten minutes with both arms up and out of the water. That was nearly fifty years ago. Today I can easily tread water non-stop for two minutes, using both my legs and arms. I consider that a monumental achievement. But something occurred to me in this morning’s class during our first aerobic session.

Treading water in the shallow end is vastly different than treading water in the deep end. I’m safe in the shallow end. I can see the bottom. I can walk to the side wall. But in the deep end my life depends on keeping my head above water. I can’t see the bottom. I have to swim to the side wall. Using this thought as a metaphor, I wonder where I’m playing it safe in my life? Have I become too familiar with the status quo of the shallow end? Or, am I willing to risk going into the deeper waters of the unknown for a more meaningful experience of life? That’s where change happens!

Consider this passage from The Infinite Way by Joel Goldsmith: “When your spiritual study is sincere, the breaking-up of your material world—the desertion of friends, students, or family, a change in health or other outer activity—often ushers in the spiritual transition, or rebirth. This is the attainment of that which you have sought.”

My spiritual growth will not expand if I stay in the shallow end. The illusion is that I can control what happens there. Things will stay the same because it’s predictable and safe. But my spirit continually longs to go deeper. To dive into the primordial depths of this thing called Life. What is my life about, especially now that I’m swimming towards my twilight years? What are my relationships about, especially when there are dis-connects and dis-comforts? What are the stressors in my country that trigger feelings of despair?

As Goldsmith predicted, I have suffered a great deal with loss since my spiritual studies became sincere nearly thirty years ago. I could make a list. It would be a long one. Yet I can truthfully say that I am grateful for every change, even if it meant flailing my arms around in the deep end of the pool while shouting “help” to a lifeguard. It’s here where I remember that I am the guardian of my own life. This is my swimming pool. I have choice between the shallow and deep ends. Where does my spirit want to tread water today?

And more shall be revealed….

Stop!

June 2, 2019

STUFF I KNOW
© Rev. Angelica Martinez

TRIGGER WARNING Proceed knowing you were given the disclaimer.

If you feel the need to comment, please do not tell me “change your mind, change your life” and “what you get is what you think about” jargon. Trust me, I have read, written and heard the lot of it. But know this, I am allowing myself to bathe in the loamy richness of the Dark Night. Ebb and Flow Life goes. Trust me, I know what I am doing. I have been here before. I walked in the Sun again. This is The Alchemy of Life.

I am tired of Life.

Please note, that does not say “I am tired of living.” Two very distinctly different things.

Sometimes, it is okay to say “STOP!” Regroup and start over. Stop, look and Breathe. What is the information in front of you? How do you move forward? Forward is the only direction you can go, because Time is Linear – moving toward a Desired result. So, the question becomes, “What is it you Desire?” Now I know why Lucifer says that so much on the TV Series; in that one question you can find out so much information about what the driving force is for that person. Fascinating stuff. But I digress.

When I said “I am tired of Life” I meant, “Whoa, there’s a shit-ton coming at me right now. I need to Hard Stop and Reset.”

Hard Stop. Cessation of motion. Cessation of chaos. Cessation of external stimuli.
Breath One. Pause.
Breath Two. Gather information.
Breath Three. Release.
Reset.

There is such a deep richness in the Cave of the Dark Night. The watery, earthy goodness. The fertilizer of Growth. (In Alchemy Water = Emotions Earth = Grounding/Strength/Matter). A Dark Night is Alchemy. When you Allow yourself the moments in the Dark, you fertilize that Growth spurt that is about to happen.

If I think back over my life, it was those deepest, darkest moments that led to the most profound Growth and Change. (and yes, I have been seeing 555 lately). It still feels shitty sometimes though. I still get tired of Life and it’s ebbing and flowing.

Thing is, I know that once the rapids are over, there is a nice bend of river where it is calm, lazy yet still flowing. I just gotta get over the damn rapids.

Again, see the reference to water (emotions)?

Life is full of emotions, Energy (E =mc2) set in motion. E-motion.And like water they rage and they rest. Ebb and Flow. Oh FFS, is Life nothing but Ebb and Flow? Ebb and Flow. I am tired of ebbing and flowing. I want to get out of the river and rest. I want the world to stop fighting. I want Trump to be the best he can be, whatever that means, just be a decent human being FFS. I want to not have to worry about the welfare of my community. I want to stop being a mother. I want to stop being a manager. I want to stop!! I want to simply HARD STOP Life.

Life does not Hard Stop . . . only I can.

Hard Stop. Breath. Reset. (Originally, I accidently typed Rest. And that works too)
Dear Angels, Universe, God Almighty and Yeshua his Son,
Please Hear my Prayer.

I am tired of Life at the Moment. Can you take over and Guide me to the Right thing to do? Help me be the best I can be in this Moment, because it feels like I am muddying up the waters. Help me to Stop, Breathe and Reset. Help me remember you are always with me. I am Supported in your Love. Amen.

Thank you,
Rev. Angelica
Feel free to connect via Facebook: Angel Raven-Hawke or via email angel.martinez444@outlook.com

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=Awr9ImaUhPRcf_4ADGNXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyanFiZjI2BGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjY4MzNfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=when+you+walk+through+a+storm&fr=mcafee#id=9&vid=8b6f9071b50bcc5d84edc9ae7e41c972&action=view

Untold Stories

May 17, 2019

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

One of the things I enjoy most while leading tours to Ireland is the gift of witnessing someone having an “ah ha” moment connected to their ancestry. Because my role is as leader and guide, I don’t always get those moments for myself. But I did this time. It happened in a flash when I heard the words “took the soup.” Suddenly, an untold story emerged.

Last April, with my group, I finally got to visit the ancient Hill of Uisneach. (Roughly pronounced ISH-nok.) That’s where I had my “ah ha” moment. Uisneach is considered Ireland’s 5th Province as well as the burial place of the Irish goddess, Eriu, from whom Ireland got its name. It’s considered a sacred and spiritual ritual site with monuments and relics dating back over 5,000 years. Our private guide, a seasoned ceremonialist, squired us around the many hills while leading rituals and ceremonies connected with the four elements: earth, air, fire, water. During a walk between sites, I encountered a most interesting man.

Although he was clearly clean and put together, he had that look about him that said he might be a Druid who just popped out the woods. He did, indeed, pop up from time to time. We couldn’t figure out how he got ahead of us and would suddenly appear, one time sitting on the gate of a fence. That’s where we struck up a conversation.

As typical of Irish people, he inquired about my ancestry. I told him about my mother’s Connolly line, likely hailing from somewhere in the northwest of Ireland. These were areas particularly hit hard during the Great Potato Famine. I mentioned that we were Protestants way back to the late 1700s. “Oh, so your people took the soup,” he declared. Took the soup? I’d never heard that expression before. He explained.

During Ireland’s tragic potato famine, people professed to be the religion of the church that was serving soup to the poor. So, a Catholic would say they were Protestant, while a Protestant would say they were Catholic. Many were forced to convert. They betrayed their beliefs in exchange for food. My leprechaun friend fully believes that my Connolly ancestors were originally Catholic. Regardless, it was the thought process that ensued that got my attention.

Because my Connolly ancestor(s) immigrated before the Great Famine of the mid 1800s, I thought they were free from the trauma and despair of their homeland. Surely, they left behind many family and friends who literally starved to death. The Irish Potato Famine began in 1845 and went on for four years. It is estimated that between 500,000 and more than one million people died in Ireland during that time. Keep in mind that the potato, the staple of every poor Irish family’s diet, was the only crop that failed. Ireland’s beef, dairy, and lumber, as well as jobs, went to the wealthy British that ruled over them. Approximately two million Irish people left and immigrated to other countries, mostly the U.S. and Canada. That’s where my focus has been throughout my entire life. Thank God my ancestors were not impacted by the Famine! But that’s not true. My people who stayed in Ireland were innocent victims of a tyrannical ruling class and subjected to torture in the form of starvation. Like all people, I carry the stories—told or untold–of my ancestors. Is this why Ireland keeps calling me back, in search of the untold story? Is this why many in my family, including myself, are overweight? Is this why it’s been hard for me to declare one particular religion? Is this why any form of betrayal hurts so deeply? To my ancestors I say:

I’m sorry you had to suffer.
Please forgive me for forgetting.
Thank you for my new level of awareness.
I love you.

Some Irish men were imprisoned for stealing food to feed their young. This haunting ballad shares a story that needs to be told. When someone sings it in an Irish pub, locals stop what they are doing and sing along. I finally get why.

Ann Breen ~ The Fields Of Athenry

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=mary+black+fields+of+athenry#id=6&vid=501a470e7ec72eaa97f5e37c43d174ff&action=view

Wildness

May 4, 2019

“The early Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit ‘the wild goose.’ And the reason why is they knew that you cannot tame him.” John Eldredge, author Wild at Heart

Today, the gusty winds in the west of Ireland remind me of what is untamed in me. Having recently completed leading two tours – Ireland and Scotland – I’m now on the third leg of my journey with my husband, Doug. It’s included two days in Dublin and two days in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We are now snuggled into one of my favorite accommodations in the beloved village of Ballyvaughan, County Clare – Oceanville B&B. Check out the views from our room. I’ve soaked in these images and reflections on many occasions, always reminding me of the wildness of place. A rugged wildness I do not experience at home in Oregon, both in my witnessing and acting. What will bring the two together? I turn to Mother Nature.

What I am reminded of today is the natural trinity in The Burren’s landscape. I pause to witness where the sky, meets the water, meets the land. It’s a brilliant and windy sunny day in the rockiest part of Ireland. The expanse of sky reminds me of the guidance from above, Heavenly Father energy. It’s vastness, with blue skies and a smattering of clouds. The earth reminds me of support from below, Earthly Mother energy. Her garments are brilliant greens with startling floral designs. What unites the two? The brilliant azure waters of Galway Bay, playfully igniting a wild goose chase. I wish I had had this memory and vision yesterday while negotiating how to take the train from Belfast, to Dublin, and then onto Galway City where we picked up our rental car. Talk about a wild goose chase!

With tickets in hand, and reserved seats, we successfully took the train from Belfast back to Dublin. Here’s where the goose chase began. Our tickets said 12:45 Connolly, one of several train/bus stations in Dublin. Suddenly, I remembered that we could not travel from Connolly to Galway, so we took a taxi to Heuston Station, our initial starting point a few days earlier. We enjoyed breakfast and some leisure time, when I saw on the posted schedule that the train to Galway was at 1:30pm. Our ticket was for 12:45 at Connolly, so we flagged another taxi and returned to Connolly station, several bags in tow. There we soon learned that the 12:45 ticket was for Luas (Dublin’s light rail) taking us to Heuston for the 1:30pm train to Galway. Are you with me? See why this was a wild goose chase? Since I booked the travel, I took full responsibility for the confusion. But, come on. The tickets, time and stations were confusing.

When I’m in the midst of a wild goose chase, I really strive to stay calm and go with the flow, even looking for the humor in the hunt. But under stress I can get a wee bit cranky, focusing only on what I perceive as wrong. (I was also not feeling well.) When I’m cranky, it becomes easy to complain and blame. When I’m in that dynamic duo of negative thought, I have the power to call upon a third aspect. Call to mind the metaphor I mentioned above. Remembering the trinity of the landscape where I am in this moment. I can look up and complain about the weather, or I can look down and see the uncertainty of the path. But where will that get me? It eventually it got be to the right train at the right time, and all was/is well. Including today’s constant gusty winds having her way with the waters of Galway Bay. The goose has been chased. I wonder what lies ahead with one more week in the wild and untamed west of Ireland?

ANAM CARA TOURS

April 2020

I’m brewing duo tours again for next year. You can travel to either Ireland or Scotland, or both as six people did this year. There’s a discount if you do both tours, or are a returning traveler. Dates and costs will come in June. For now, I’m thinking of Ireland first, early April 2020. For Scotland, in mid-April, I’m specifically looking at a journey to the Outer Hebrides islands of Lewis & Skye, starting an closing in Inverness. That tour may have the exciting opportunity to travel with a very talented and wise young musician, Aaron Alderson. Look him up on Facebook.

Interested, or know someone who might be? Then send me an email to get on the interested list. I do not sell or share that list. It is specifically for my for-profit tour business, Anam Cara Tours LLC. kathleenverigin333@gmail.com

TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC SESSION

We enjoyed a lovely and lively traditional Irish music session Friday night at O’Loclainn’s Irish Whiskey Bar in Ballyvaughan. Entertaining and fun, while Doug sipped a Green Spot whiskey and I a hot toddy for my aching sinuses and throat.