Postcard from Ireland

+ Irish stone wall June 14 Muse 4988337_sHaving a wonderful time. Triona is a fabulous hostess and tour guide.

Our Irish friend, Triona, drove and guided us around Ireland last month – south from Dublin to Wexford, inland to Roscommon for a poetry festival, and west through the Burren to the Cliffs of Moher.

Beautiful countryside, lots of sheep.

As much as possible, Triona kept us on the quieter, pastoral roads. Sheep, cows, and horses grazed in shiny, green grass fields outlined by walls of stone that looked like they’d been standing a long time.

Spiritual lesson hidden in the stone walls!

“The walls were built with spaces between the stones,” Triona told us. “It’s the spaces that keep the walls strong so they won’t fall down in the wind.”

I looked closely at the walls and saw gaps between the stones. Shards of light came through here and there. Though initially counter-intuitive (wouldn’t you imagine a solid wall to be the strongest construction?) it made sense that the spaces allow the wall to breathe, in a sense, and that they take the pressure off the wall from the driving winds during a storm.

Vacationing is a great break from regular life…

Our vacation created a welcome “space between” from the day-to-day of our normal life. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, spacious times that help us rest and recuperate. Though we had an agenda for our trip, I experienced a lovely sense of release from my regular routine. Filled with scenery, poetry, and enjoyable interactions, I found that my customary concerns dissolved.

It’s ending too soon! I’m not ready to go back!

Without the structure of a vacation, it’s sometimes hard to have space between our activities, our pressures. The wall-to-wall quality of our daily lives and our constantly crowded minds create a vulnerability to life’s stresses. Like the stone wall in a strong wind, we might feel as though life is knocking us over if we aren’t resting, taking breaks, doing nothing, daydreaming and breathing deeply in between.

The Irish always have time for a cup of tea or a pint of Guinness.

Since our first trip to Ireland a few years ago, we’ve maintained the habit of drinking tea every afternoon. This ritual not only reminds us of our friends and experiences in Ireland, it is an important “space between” in my day. Some days, I admit, I don’t stop working and my tea drinking accompanies what I’m doing. But even then, the tea relaxes and revives me.

Best of all is when my tea is purely a “spacer moment” in my day, when I drink it while sitting in a lawn chair outside or putting my feet up and reading a book.

I have a new perspective on aging after walking on the Burren…

Walking on the 350-million year old limestome “pavement” (as the flat rocks in the coastal Burren area are called) made me feel quite young in comparison! I think it’s an aspect of aging and (I’d like to think) of getting wiser that we begin to honor more space in our lives. You’d think that realizing we no longer have “all the time in the world” would pressure us to do even more now, (and sometimes I feel that way), but it also inspires us to be in a different relationship with time.

That’s what I felt myself evolving towards as I contemplated the spaces between the stones in the walls along the Irish roads. Life’s rhythm should include times of richness and intensity, spelled by breaks of silence, breath and light.

Home in a few days. Returning with a good dose of the spirit of the people.

We have found the Irish unfailingly generous and friendly. I tuck a little of that spirit into my pocket every time I’m there and come home inspired—to be more generous, to engage those I meet with a more conscious, inviting presence.

That’s the kind of interaction that happens in the space between – maybe over a cup of tea on a quiet afternoon.

Wish you were here…

Beannacht! Janet


  1. kathleen mcleod says

    It is so special to hear your thoughts on Ireland. I love that many come back from there and say such nice comments like “the people there are so friendly,” “the land and farms are so green and vibrant,” and “the way of life has taught a lesson to slow down and enjoy life in simple and easy ways.”

    I love the way you described the stone walls, and I do believe that space between those old stones is the key to its strength, allowing more air and light through. We are describing in a sense, our own bodies, allowing more space and energy to flow through us, and to create a place
    to enter a more peaceful and loving relationship with ourselves and others. And as you say, more wisdom!

    thanks for sharing.

    • Spiral Energies says

      I appreciate your thoughts, Kathleen, and especially the sense that our bodies also need space and energy flow to improve and deepen our relationships with self and other people. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Isabel Leonard says

    That’s a wonderful thought – the stress-relieving spaces between the rocks in the wall. It reminds me of the meditation instruction “dwell on the spaces between the thoughts,” which I find more helpful than trying to chase the thoughts away.

    I looked at the Wikipedia article and Google Images for Burren and marveled at the karst landscape. Also learned a few new words: grikes, clints, and crinoids.

    • Spiral Energies says

      The word “dwell” is a good one, Isabel. It has a settled, comfortable feeling, doesn’t it? (better than forcing ourselves between thoughts, or, as you say, chasing them away). Speaking of words, thanks for introducing me to “grikes, clints, and crinoids!

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