Some places I have seen and it was good. And some of those places I would like to visit again, to see something I missed the first time. Then there is Glendalough, the land I am irresistibly drawn to over and over again.
It’s a mere eleven-mile walk from Roundwood to Glendalough. The terrain is fairly gentle, a few hills to negotiate, mostly grass filled fields with sheep nearby. The sharpest incline is the finale that leads to a stunning view of the holy valley where the ruins of Saint Kevin’s monastery lay nestled. From our viewpoint we could see the sixth-century stone chapel with its rare rock roof, built to sustain the Norsemen’s fiery arrows. Standing over the chapel like a beacon of light to the weary pilgrim is Saint Kevin’s watchtower. Above the monastery grounds are the two Lake of Angels where Kevin kept his stone cell and where he stood in the icy water to pray while ravens built nests in his hair.
We stopped at this point to take in the majesty, first with the soul and then the camera. I stepped away to allow the others to take pictures and I was overcome with emotion and a few tears. This is my fourth time to Glendalough, second by foot. I have been here on pilgrimage, each time at some crossroads in my life. At this particular juncture I’m not fully sure what the optional roads are because the paths lying before me are not physical options, like career or vocation, no these choices are related to spiritual paths, more mystical and elusive to discern.
Maybe, for my current pilgrimage this is why Glendalough is a beginning and not the destination. I have walked from Dublin to Glendalough with trusted companions, true friends. For them, Glendalough is the destination and they will be leaving tomorrow for a few last tourist days in Ireland before heading home. For me, I begin walking the next twenty-four days alone. Cathy will be driving ahead, scouting out a place to stay and finding the best pub while I make the twelve to twenty miles a day through the Irish countryside, praying, thinking, and observing what the Spirit is saying. And I will watching for the raven.
Priest, pilgrim, writer, alchemist—living into the mystery, the knowledge, and the practice of sacred alchemy. I've walked across Ireland, almost 400 miles of mountains, valleys, forests, and magic. The pilgrimage was a mirror of my life's journey, coach, president, priest. Traveler of the life's struggles—from failure to re-imagination—still walking.