When travelling, it really pays off to become a morning person. With a 6:30 wakeup, the day went by so wonderfully slow. It was like we experienced 3 days in one. Jumping at every opportunity, running to take chances, going the extra few steps just to get a better view, and exploring from morning til night... I'm in my element.
Being Easter Sunday, we started off the day with a 6:30 wakeup and a service at St. Mary's Cathedral. It was eye-opening, being my first experience at a Catholic Mass, but the 200-year-old ethereal sanctuary was a beautifully serene place to reflect and ponder. The quiet, reverent service was refreshing, and it was incredible to see that when it comes to the foundations, there is not much that separates us. Worshiping in a still and solemn way was different, but brought new perspective to my typical view of Easter. It was hard to give a single thought to bunnies and chocolate eggs or even flowers and sunshine when we were in that massive stone cathedral. While our beliefs may differ on a number of points, one thing was sure: I was reminded today of God's holiness, and my lowliness. I had a chance to be still and patient and speechless before God, and simply close my eyes and reflect on His sacrifice. No music, no performance, no over-the-top production. A little bit of tradition went a long way today, I guess.
We had the lovely opportunity to spend a few hours before lunch exploring Killarney at our leisure. One of the options was a jaunty cart tour and me, being the eager beaver that I am, leapt at the chance. Our guide took us to meet Delilah, our noble steed. She was midnight black, and full of sass. Getting in to my spot in the front seat beside the driver, she actually started to leave the lot... with the driver a ways away sorting things out with another jaunty cart. I grabbed the reigns, naturally, and stopped the horse from abandoning our guide, but the situation was hilarious, nontheless.
We've gotten to experience the authentic Irish weather here in every way. Today, we saw all four seasons. On the jaunty cart ride, we were pelted with ice-cold rain and had to snuggle under a tarp. Our faces were freezing, but the experience was incredible. We were taken around the lake. There were castle ruins on an island in the middle, and crumbling stone structures along the way. A group of sika deer came to greet us as we trotted along, but as we were riding past the National Park, we actually spotted a red stag- a rare sighting, according to our delighted cabby.
About halfway through the jaunty cart ride, the skies cleared up and the sun made its first appearance of the day. We were all feeling like we'd been touring for days already, only to find out it was not even 11:00 in the morning. We piled on the bus, and set off for the next venture of the day: The Ring of Kerry.
Wow. That was the word of the day, and I predict it'll be the word of the week. 180 kilometers of such natural beauty. 180 kilometers of some of the most scenic, vast, and boundless landscape I've ever seen. The wild wind that had earlier brought us sleet and hail and rain, continued to blow, even in the sun, which turned out to be the best thing ever, and I'll tell you why.
Along the Ring of Kerry, there were a number of stops we made. Different lookouts and towns dotted the way, and made for some jaw-dropping spectacles. I was finally introduced to the Atlantic Ocean, in person, for the first time in my life. I've been a Pacific person for 18 years, never having a chance to see any other coastline. That changed today, and it was unbelievable. The mighty winds that made it impossible to walk straight made for the hugest waves I've ever seen. The tide was as wild as anything. The powerful wind and the incredible surf was indescribable. We stopped by the beach, and spent the time running from the rapid tide, and simply staring at the gigantic waves crashing against the rocks and tumbling towards the shore.
Aside from the thousands of sheep spread across every other field, Ireland has proven to be more green, lush, and pure than anywhere else I can think of. The immense mountains and the deep valleys and the narrow, winding roads made me giddy as we drove for hours through the beautiful, sunny panorama. I felt like we had stepped into a calendar; a living, vibrant postcard.
From visiting the locals in the tiniest little villages to beholding the paramount swells and rushing, towering, thundering waves... today was beyond belief. So much awe and wonder in such a short amount of time, small wonder people get addicted to travel so easily. I know I do! Every minute we step foot into somewhere new, there's no better place to be. Turning around and backtracking is secondary to moving forward, rounding the next bend, and discovering the next part of the story.
It's hard to fathom how small we truly are... until we step outside of our towns and take a look around. This world is immense. Creation is colossal compared to us. We are pinpricks of life hurtling towards an inevitable end, but what we do along the way happens to actually matter. How crazy is that? Out of all the living things inhabiting this planet... we are the ones living lives that, due to mysteries unknown, have eternal value. We have a destiny. We have a purpose. And we were built to worship an awesome God. We were built to look for the higher calling, and the higher call-er. We were built to die to ourselves. Turn away from our selfish desires. Step out of the life of greed. We were built to recognize God Almighty as the supreme ruler. We were built to dwell in Him, alone.
For me, it's a lot easier to do while travelling. The more we venture, the less I know. The more I see, the more I realize that I've seen nothing, yet. With each passing moment that we're here in Europe, the world is getting bigger and bigger.
And so, naturally, I'm getting a lot smaller- back to where I belong.