Cinnia spent some time wandering through the ruins of the “Monastic City” at Glendalough. Set in the valley of the Wicklow Mountains, you can walk among the remains of old stone churches, homes, towers, and burial sites. The location is picturesque and serene, while also a bit haunting.
St. Kevin, who lived as a hermit for seven years in the mountains, founded the site. Living as a hermit, he developed a great love for nature and animals. He served as a teacher and healer in the area. As legend tells it, King O’Toole of Glendalough had a pet goose. As the goose aged it was no longer able to fly. The King summoned St. Kevin and asked him to make the goose young again. As payment for his services, St. Kevin asked to be granted all the land the goose flew over. The King agreed, since the goose could no longer fly. St. Kevin laid his hands upon the bird and it grew young once again and flew over the valley of Glendalough, and that became the site of the monastic city.
I admire that the Irish people have such reverence for these sites that they have allowed them to remain. Such a rich history and tradition is preserved for all to visit and appreciate. As I walk through the valley among the ruins I try to imagine what it was like in the 12th century. If I was living in this time, what might I have been doing; I somehow picture myself being a weaver. A lone goose flew overhead as I was looking out at the site known as St. Kevin’s Bed and I couldn’t help but laugh.
Cinnia returned to her journal and turned to the page where she recorded the heading “Evaluate the Present.” She pondered and pondered.
Why am I feeling so lackluster? My job is my main source of stress and discontent. I used to love it, but the industry is changing so much and the job itself has evolved into something less than it was. There isn’t enough that is inspiring me or motivating me the way it once did. The constant cycle of layoffs every six months does nothing to keep anyone motivated either. I genuinely feel the lack of creativity and innovation is the primary reason I feel so disappointed and let down. Whenever you attempt to make something that will provide a more enriching experience for customers you can’t get the budget approved to do so. “Do more with less!” is the corporate world motto these days.
I have a lot to be grateful for too. It isn’t all bad. So what do I love about where I am at today?
I love where I live and I love my home. I feel like it’s the right fit for me. I have put a lot of tender love and care into making my house a haven. This makes me feel good. I don’t want to leave any of this.
I love my friends and family. They inspire me. They make me laugh; we have good times together. They give me support when I need it. I wouldn’t want to leave any of them.
Where do I go from here?
Ugggh, questions, questions, questions, I need to make some decisions!
Later that evening, feeling refreshed and centered, Cinnia reflected on this journey so far. She noticed an overlying theme of presence in many of her experiences. So often we get into routines and habits and find ourselves just going through the motions. We do things just to get through them. In essence we put blinders on and miss so much of the detail and beauty of where we are at in any point in time. Perhaps you can consider it a coping mechanism for the mundane, but consider what might be lost.
I love to walk and get out in nature; I use this as a method to relieve stress. Often when I walk I am rehashing the day. What could I have done better? How could I have handled that differently? Or I am already thinking about the next day. What do I need to get done? I would have a much better and even more stress reducing experience if I just let that all go. For that hour or so I should just truly enjoy the presence, the beauty of my surroundings or the others that are sharing the space with me.
I know through snippets of conversation the interests and talents of my coworkers, but we don’t often spend time sharing our experiences and hobbies outside the office with one another. Perhaps we are missing out on opportunities that would add value to our own lives and interests if we made the time to have more meaningful dialogue.
Presence, the core of the word itself is present. A gift. We should give ourselves the gift of living in the moment and appreciating the world and others around us.
Cinnia continued down the Woodland Road trail that took her through oaken woods before getting to the wetlands on the lower lake. The oak tree is one of the most revered and sacred trees in folklore and legend. The mighty oak is the symbol of strength and steadfastness. While walking through the woods Cinnia noticed a large gnarled looking oak a little off the path. It was larger than many of the other tress surrounding it. It’s branches twisting and turning this way and that. It looked so old and stately she wanted to sit beneath it for a while.
I’ve always found majestic old trees intriguing. They seem to be filled with personality and life. If you look closely you can imagine faces in the trunks. What tales do you have to tell?
Cinnia settled herself down at the base among twisted roots. The ground was covered in thick moss; she ran her hand along the velvet texture of it. She then gently ran her hands over the knotted old bark. She closed her eyes and breathed.
Breathe in, a big deep breath, then a long slow breath out. The earthy scent of the woods took over. Smell. Listen. Breathe in; breathe out. Birds are overhead singing sweet songs, calling back and forth to each other. Rustling behind me not far from the tree, a squirrel perhaps collecting acorns. An insect buzzes around my head before moving on. The scents and sounds are so soothing.
Focusing on the woodsy aromas and the reverberations my breathing slowed and centered, I felt a slight shift in the energy. My senses became more acute. I heard a voice “Build on the things that make you happy and bring you joy. Walk away from the things that drag you down. Trust in yourself, what will be will be.”
After spending several days in the city, Cinnia was eager to get back to nature. She travelled down to Wicklow Mountains National Park to spend some time on the trails there. Cinnia had read of the nemetons or sacred groves of the Druids. It was believed these sites were infused with the energy of the earth and a place of meditation and prayer. Within these spaces one could channel the spirits and experience mysteries or miracles.
To find such a space one had to open their heart and mind to all the beauty of nature; the warmth of the sun on the skin, the lightness of the air, the cooling of water, and the vitality of the earth. Cinnia took one of the trails to the Poulanass Waterfall.
It’s a beautiful hike and a beautiful place but I’m just not getting any vibes that there is anything special or otherworldly about it. Maybe it’s just too trafficked or perhaps I’m just not ready yet. It feels really good to be outside and getting some exercise at least.
Cinnia continued on the trail heading to the lake. She heard a chorus of frogs and it made her smile. When she was a kid she loved to listen to the peepers in the back yard in the evening. This reminded her of that. She could see the lake in the distance. Off on the opposite shore she saw some deer meandering around the tall grasses. Since she was getting hungry she found a spot on a hill overlooking the lake and marsh to stop and sit and enjoy the lunch she packed.
Music is as much a part of the culture of Ireland as the many myths and legends originating here. From traditional Celtic music to folk songs sung in pubs, the music of Ireland lightens the soul and tickles the imagination. Song and story are intertwined in ballads, laments, or a good old drinking song.
Cinnia was returning to her hotel after dinner and passed by a pub, the sounds of the fiddle reached the street and she stopped to listen. The door opened as some folks left, and the patrons laughter and voices spilled out into the street. Not really ready to retire for the evening, Cinnia entered the pub and grabbed a stool at the bar.
You can’t help but smile when you listen to some of the old songs. They make me laugh, they make me want to get up and dance, and they make me want to sing along. There’s energy and joy in the music. I ordered up a pint and my feet began a-tapping. I’m not well versed in many of the songs but sang along when I knew the words. It wasn’t long before I recognized one of my favorites, Galway Girl, and was on my feet dancing. I lost track of the time and was surprised when I heard last call. Another of my favorites began to play as I lifted my glass one last time and exited with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
So fill me to the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all.
~ The Parting Glass
While wandering around Dublin, Cinnia happened upon the National Leprechaun Museum. The stories of leprechauns are some of the most prevalent of Irish mythology and folktales. They have charmed both children and adults for thousands of years.
Laughing, who knew this was here. I can’t possibly pass up this opportunity! Tap, tap, tap…I hear him working on his shoe. I’m coming.
The shoemaker to the fairies, the leprechaun is a prankster to humans. He dares you to catch him and if he should let you, will grant you three wishes in return for his release. Be wary of those wishes, for they may disappear as quickly as he does when you let him go. He taunts you with promises of his pot of gold but he’ll never actually let you find it. In some stories he wears two pouches, one containing silver coins, one gold. If he should give you one of the coins you will find later that you have nothing in your pocket but a handful of leaves. There is a lesson to be learned from these tales.
Nothing is free. You cannot have a pot of gold without working hard for it. Wealth is earned not taken from someone else.
A visit to Dublin would not be complete without a visit to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. The manuscript contains the writings of the Four Gospels, but is most well known for its artwork. It is elaborately decorated in Celtic knot work as well as images depicting the life of Jesus. The Old Library at Trinity College was Cinnia’s next visit.
This place is magnificent. I could get lost in here for weeks. This is a book lover’s paradise. I don’t even know where to begin.
Cinnia wandered through the Long Room mouth-agape. She made her way to the book of Kells wanting to see the illustrations first hand. Celtic knots are prevalent features of manuscripts, cemetery crosses, and other ancient sites. The trinity knot is one of the most recognized. It’s believed to have varied symbolic meanings:
For me this journey is about the rebirth of the creative through nurturing the body, mind, and spirit. Today I’ll work on my mind and explore some of the amazing collections here.
Cinnia awoke after a restful and peaceful sleep. She was off to Dublin today. Mythology and folktales are not the only literary works well known in Ireland. It was time to explore the work and inspirations of other well regarded authors. A James Joyce walking tour was just the way to get kick off the day. Cinnia chose the “Dubliners” tour because it focused on Joyce’s life and the gritty look at real life he presented.
I want to understand more about what inspired other authors and how they chose to put their ideas into words and create tales that stand the test of time. Dubliners resonates with the escapism I feel. I wonder how much of that is human nature in general or just my human nature.
After the walking tour, Cinnia spent some time in the Dublin Writer’s Museum. Here she was able to explore the works of Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde, as well as others. A bona fide bookworm, the written word took hold of Cinnia’s imagination at a young age and never let go.
I read Gulliver’s Travels in high school. I remember enjoying it more as fairy tale with the travels to different lands than as a work reflecting human kind. I think it may be time to reread this as an adult with a different perspective.
I can’t remember if I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in high school or college. I do remember being mesmerized by the change in the portrait as the real man sinks deeper and deeper into shame and corruption. This is yet another tale focusing on the human condition. Joyce, Swift, and Wilde capture such diverse portraits of people and human emotions and interactions.
While researching the famous writers of Ireland, Cinnia made two surprising discoveries, Bram Stoker was a Dubliner and C. S. Lewis was born in Belfast.
I had no idea Bram Stoker was Irish. I love Dracula and have read it multiple times. I uncovered that the inspiration for the story came from the crypts beneath St. Michan’s Church – perhaps I need to add a visit here to my itinerary. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it.
The Chronicles of Narnia are stories I love as much as an adult as I did when I was a child. They still capture my imagination and I am convinced that someday in an antiquing adventure I will find a wardrobe that will allow me to visit another world.
I aspire to reach people in the same manner these works reached me.
Cinnia found her way back to the B & B to spend the night. She curled up in the big four-poster bed with a view overlooking the Irish Sea. Cinnia opened her journal to the page she had titled “Evoke the Past.” She began jotting down words describing her feelings while visiting these ancient sites over the last few days:
I’m so inspired by the history and vitality here. I’ve loved some of these tales for so long, seeing the sites where they were born brings them to life in such a new and interesting way. I feel the heaviness I have been carrying on my shoulders starting to lift away. I am eagerly anticipating each new day with an energy I haven’t felt in quite some time. The flame hasn’t gone out yet; there is a flicker there still.
I remember when I was starting out in adulthood and a career. So eager to please and prove myself. It was exciting, and a bit scary, but mostly exciting. My work was exhilarating; it challenged me. I’m finding I need that challenge to motivate, to inspire, to do something again that’s a wee bit scary but in all the best possible ways. Slowly, I’m starting to find me again.
Cinnia tucked the journal away and was soon drifting off to sleep.
Once upon a time...
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