Fifteen years ago I lived in Ireland for a year. I was newly married and very young. I’d never set foot outside the U.S before that. It was a shock, to say the least. In the early days and weeks I had a hard time adjusting. It was all so different, so unknown and unpredictable. Even things that had been simple back home, things like going to the grocery store, were extremely difficult for me.
Every weekend my husband and I would travel around. We were determined to see as much of the country as possible while we were there. And we just about did – luckily nothing in Ireland is more than a three or four hour drive away.
As we branched out more, my fear started to go away and I found after a while that I was really enjoying myself! Smelling the syrupy malt in the air near the Guiness factory, getting stuck on a road between two herds of bleating sheep who’s time was their own, exploring castle after crumbling castle with my new husband… the differentness that had terrified me in the beginning became intoxicating. It forever changed who I am and what I care about.
It was a special time for me, of opening up, learning more about the world and myself, getting to know another culture. And although most days I don’t think about Ireland anymore, St. Patrick’s Day is always a good reminder for me of that time, how young I was and how scared. How much I’ve grown since then. How much I’ve experienced.
This day reminds me of the Irish blessing that I received – the gift of having my eyes opened to how other people live, my heart opened to a beautiful place and people, and my mind opened ot the limitless experiences waiting for me out in this wide and incredible world.
And although I’m not religious, I’ll share one of my favorite Irish blessings with you. The takeaway is the same, I think, regardless of beliefs.
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
And now, since that was a little heavy, I give you a scene from one of my favorite movies set in Ireland. I absolutely love this scene – it reminds me of driving in the Irish countryside with my husband. I hope you enjoy! And Happy St. Patrick’s Day!