Monday, July 23, 2012
A Day of Rest at Inistioge
A Day of Rest at Inistioge 7.22.12 Sunday is good day for Sabbath, rest for the whole of my being. Outside there is a chill in the air. A misty cloud hangs over the farmhouse where we are taking a day off. The wind has made even the cows lie down with their calves. We’re relaxing in the conservatory of the two-hundred-year old Georgian family owned farmhouse just outside Inistioge. Nellie Cassin manages the B&B and husband Pat the farm. The location, the view, and the hospitality provide a perfect place to set down the pack and let go of the walk for a day. Reflection is a harbor for the soul. And a room of dry light is a place to rest and allow the body to restore. I’m feeling the odd sensation of my body internally renewing itself. I’ve been an athlete and done quite a bit of heavy training throughout my life. But, now, at my age and the workload of the walk, I can feel the inner movement of muscles being reknit and joints refueled. There is such a rush of inner activity that for a moment I imagined I could see clearly without my glasses. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking? Later in the afternoon we did a little site touring, visiting the nearby ruins of Jerpoint Abbey in Thomastown, County Kilkenny. The abbey was founded by Benedictines in 1160 but then populated by Cistercians in 1180. The monastery was a thriving place with 36 fixed monks and 50 laymen. In 1217 the abbot was deposed for instigating the “Riot of Jerpoint” involving four other abbots. Eventually, in the “Conspiracy of Mullifont,” all the Irish abbots were removed. Finally, in 1540 the Dissolution of the Monasteries turned the 14,500 acres of property over to James, Earl of Osmond. Church history has been harsh and at times cruel on the Irish. Faith in God here is strong, but the institutional church, that is another matter for consideration. Visiting the abbey moved our hearts. The stone altars were still intact in the chancel and smaller side chapels. Abbots and other dignitaries are entombed in the now open ruins of the chancel and nave. Some graves stones revealed 18th Century dates. The cemetery is still active with the most recent burial in 2011. The ancient abbey ruin is a holy site and yet, in another way, a conflicted place. There is a feeling here of being unsettled. But, such feelings seem acceptable in this place. To which, a dozen raven feathers found my soul within the confines of the sanctuary. Living in the desert for a lifetime dries out the moisture of the soul leaving me with an almost constant fear of being without a bottle of water. Such a lust for water feels somewhat unnatural, but necessary to survive. To be in a place like Ireland where the soul can soak in the not only the moist and luscious air but also the appetizingly delicious and succulent spirituality of the land and the culture of the people who inhabit the ancient way of living is like having a tall delicate glass of satisfying holy nectar that soothes the thirst always at hand. We have indeed traveled this far and tomorrow we begin again.