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Things that Bring Light...

This whole trip has been about getting lost.  Having loads of unstructured time, meandering paths that lead me to whatever awaits me when I get there.  I have no plans, no agendas.  I am just floating around Ireland.  Seeing what I am supposed to see.


Two days ago I saw a sign on the road - all it said was “lighthouse”.  I took a sharp turn and off I went.  Down a one lane road that led to where I assumed a lighthouse would exist.  I hadn’t seen the lighthouse so it really could have meant anything at all.


I passed by my first bog, well at least the first one I saw.  It was on the edge of a beautiful estate.  The Point Farm.  I would love to own that.  Such an amazing place in an out of the way kind of way.  I traipsed through cow fields and was outnumbered by the sheep that dot the Irish hillsides.  I am sure there are more sheep in Ireland than people.  Guess the sheep must be Catholic too.  I wonder if there are protestant sheep?  No, animals are much smarter than us.  They would not kill each other for centuries because of something as violative as religion waged to control and subjugate.


There were ancient ruins towards the end of the road.  Which was pretty remarkable, but I am learning fast that ancient ruins are really pretty commonplace around here.  To me, it would be spectacular to own a piece of property with an ancient barn or castle on site.  In Ireland, not only is that possible, it is likely.


Right after the ancient church in great disrepair, there was a cottage, tucked neatly in the hillside.  And at the end of that lane, there was a lighthouse.  Tall and painted black and yellow.  I would have preferred it remain white, but I am sure there was a reason.   At least it wasn’t painted orange!  Anyway, the lighthouse was kind of a compound, locked away behind a metal gate.  While it didn’t look welcoming, it didn’t look uninhabited either.  I snapped a few photos and then began my trek back down the one lane road that was barely passable as it was.


As I rounded the sharp left at the cottage on the shore, a man was outside doing chores.  I slowed and then felt immediately like I needed to tell him how much I loved his land.  I rolled down my window and struck up a conversation with a handsome fellow who used to drive a train in Belfast.  He called for his wife to come out and there we sat in the road for a good thirty minutes or more.  Talking.  She had lived all over.  London, Calgary, California.  She had kids all over too.  Mostly Canada and one son in Simi Valley.  We talked of the beauty of the land.  We talked about the rebellion and the calmer times currently.  We talked of everything and nothing.  Tom and Cynthia they were.  And they were lovely.


When I finally drove away, they told me to come back anytime.  And they meant it.  I know right now, I could get in the car, and if I could find that little lane again, I would be welcomed with open arms.


There is something so wonderful about this kind of encounter.  A chance encounter that has no purpose other than connection.  I didn’t need or want anything from them, nor they me.  We just talked without purpose or goal.  It was unhurried, even though I sat in the middle of the road allowing passage for no one.  There wasn’t anyone...so that was not an issue.


I learned from Tom that that particular lighthouse is the last of its kind in Ireland.  It is still Mercury based and there is a mighty campaign going on to convert it to LED.  But there are people who have taken up the cause and are fighting to keep it the way it has always been.  And so the lighthouse is emblematic of our times.  Aren’t we all caught up in a march towards progress that once we get there, don’t really find all that progressive?  And aren’t we all tethered to the past, even the toxic past that would kill us dead with prolonged exposure.  It is a funny thing this life living.  We are always in process of moving forward and looking back.  It is a wonder we ever get anywhere at all.


But for me and Tom and Cynthia.  The moment was perfect.  Three beings discussed the state of the world and our unique perspectives on it for a passage of time and love was exchanged.  I do not know if they were Catholic or Protestant.  They did not know that I am Buddhist.  They have no idea what I did for a living.  And I know only that Tom drove a tram in Belfast.  They didn’t ask what I did because it just didn’t matter.  Coming from America where what we do is usually the first thing one inquires about, it was so nice to have a connection that was based on something other than that.  It just didn’t matter at all. Who we were as humans was the basis for the connection. Nothing more, nothing less.


And for a moment, on that Irish roadside, it didn’t matter what I was, or what I did.  It was how I lived that was the most important.  That I was the kind of person who would be overwhelmed with gratitude that I felt compelled to roll my window down and tell a stranger how much I loved his land.  How the beauty was affecting me, changing me, inspiring me.  And that was the basis for the connection.  And he so enjoyed it he called to his wife to come out and join our conversation.


And there we all were: Tom, Cynthia, the Lighthouse and myself.  All markers of time past.  All holding our own against the passage of time.  Living out our days with our own versions of Mercury and its attendant issues.  All of us, recoiling from the replacement of our parts with LED.  Each of us transfixed in time and place in quiet rebellion to the passage of time and the concept of progress as defined by others.


For me, the lighthouse, Tom, Cynthia and myself shared a moment.  In the quiet protectiveness of all lighthouses, we met, convened and connected in spirit.  And a love was born.  Perhaps not life lasting but more fleeting but no less meaningful.


And when I finally drove away I realized there are many things in this life that bring light.  Sometimes they are Tom and Cynthias.  Sometimes they are lighthouses saddled with great responsibility to keep vessels from crashing into unsuspecting shores.  And sometimes it is me.  When I get out and away from myself and become so overcome with the beauty of my life that I stop on a lonely roadside to offer up my thanks and compliments to those who reside there.


And as I drove off and away, I thought about all the things that bring light into my world.  How much I love them for it.  And how much I really do try to be the bringer of light to all I encounter...imperfectly but continuously.  Again. Still.






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