Meet “The Pilgrims”: First there is Susan. Originally from a farm in Wexfored, she now lives in Lahinch, a little surfing town just south of the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare. Optometrist by trade, musician and seeker of Jesus in all things. Christian cliches don’t do it for her. She wants a real faith with a real God. I don’t know if I adopted myself into their family or if they adopted me … or when that was exactly. Her sister, who was my first and closest friend in the family, left us for life in New Zealand. Enough time has passed that Susan now introduces me as her friend … instead of “This is Liesel, my sister Rachel’s friend.” Nice. And then there is me. No further explanation needed since this whole blog is about me – I named it when I was young(er) and couldn’t bother changing it.
Introducing “The Pods”: Top of the Rock Pod Pairc and Walking Centre is located way down the road in West Cork, about four hours drive from Dublin. By the third hour I was thankful for my hands free set for my phone so I could get a few phone calls made. And then I called my brother at his work in Canada just because I had international minutes on my phone that needed to be used. I think it was 8:30am there. I arrived to the site with few expectations of what to find – mostly because my head has been busy thinking through too many other things to anticipate the pod getaway. I hadn’t even researched what was all in the area to see and do. All I could think of was, ahhhh, rest. I walked towards Droimeann, our pod named after an old Irish bread of cow. With each step on the grass of our little “yard” towards the pod it felt more and more peaceful around. When I stopped on the deck and righted the sturdy white chairs I looked out across the valley and the hills and felt like the only person in the world. The slight overhang at the front of our pod framed the view of pastures, stone walls, trees and rows of fuschia. When I finally turned around and unlocked the doors to our pod I was greeted with the sight of simplicity and the smell of wood from the panelled, sloping walls. There was just enough room for two small, comfortable beds pushed against the walls and our suitcases. It was perfect.
Over the next couple of days we took advantage of a couple of the walks in the area. We followed streams and waterfalls. We spotted bright red holly berries heavy on the trees. We got caught behind a herd of cows on the road and had to duck off to the side to let them pass. We found a castle. We visited Glenilen Farm and bought fresh butter. We got to know the other guests in the mornings and the evenings. There is a certain sort of person who stays at these places and they are all really lovely people! We even managed to find some of the best food in Ireland at a small restaurant in the middle of no-where! We went to Bantry on market day and followed the road to Gougane Barra. Somehow I even managed to get a bit of work done as well and emailed it out 5 minutes before the main building was being closed for the night.
We didn’t follow the pilgrim trails in the area. We didn’t even spend time thinking about the historical significance of the structure of the pods we were staying in. We just were, for those couple of days, two pilgrims in a pod. We were two people who stumble in pursuit of Jesus where ever the road or conversation might take us.
“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing which will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfilment.” ~ John O’Donohue