On to Glenstal

The sun is shining here this morning at Ashbourne. It wasn’t shining half an hour ago, and it may not be ten minutes from now. But now, it shines. So, stay with the present moment.

Within the hour with my kind hosts, Billy and Pauline, we will set out ultimately for Glenstal Abbey. It is a place with important memories of arrival and settling in during the summer of 2005. It is good to have the opportunity to go there now, to arrive, and to be available to the Lord who is always lovingly at work.

Yesterday afternoon at the monastic ruins we visited, a wonderful chance meeting took place. There was a young couple in the graveyard which has existed for seemingly ever around what is left of the walls of the monastery and its church. They had come over on their bikes and greeted us as we wandered around. A conversation opened, as they leaned on their bikes. They are a newly-married couple, he from Italy and she from Ukraine. They have decided to settle for life together in Ireland. We talked for five or ten minutes and felt as if we knew their hearts, as if we had known them forever.

This seems the fruit of hearts open to one another as we meet through life, whether meetings that will lead to long and deep connections, or seemingly chance meetings that open to depths of meaning in minutes. The four of us stood talking surrounded by the ruins of a monastery – a place of faith and prayer and community that flourished on that same earth 14 centuries ago.

When we will to connect, when we are open to one another in trust, right in the midst of a world that seems to teach us not to trust, surprising gifts pour down from the heavens. Along with Irish rain!

Tonight I am in a lovely room at Glenstal’s guest house. This place, as well as so much that has already happened over the past week and more, bears witness to the availability and the loving power of hospitality freely offered. I am often told – in word and deed – that real hospitality is terribly rare in our time and that what masquerades for it is not to be trusted. I see and feel and experience something quite different. And quite heartening. That is, the abundance of genuine loving welcome offered and accepted between friends and among strangers.

Since arrival here this afternoon, Glenstal’s hospitality has included the invitation to prayer. Both evening prayer and compline have been rich moments of peace, of blessed words emerging from a sacred silence, gently and with purpose.

Psalm 90 always rings true at the closing of the day. And so it did tonight: “Since you cling to me in love, I will free you, protect you for you love my name.”

Hospitality, love, protection. And sleep. From here at 9:35pm, to you at 3:35pm, may the remainder of the day open hospitable doors and loving words to you.

The evening light over the church at 9:35pm

2 thoughts on “On to Glenstal

  1. Dear John- Blessings on your retreat time at Glenstal Abbey Though I have been several times to Ireland, I never had the opportunity to visit or make a retreat at Glenstal, though I bought the slender “Glenstal Book of Prayer” and its worn binding reminds me that I used it for years before a Cowley Father who I directed turned me on to GIVE US THIS DAY published by the Benedictines at Collegeville. For the next week I think I will use the Glenstal morning office as way of holding you in prayer during your time there.. Grace and peace my friend.. John (mcdargh@bc.edu)

    1. John, thank you so much! I have the Glenstal book as well. It’s a beautiful place here in many ways. Thanks for your prayers. I look forward to an opportunity to get you a coffee or lunch and tell the stories of this trip. Peace, John

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