Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
I have continued to ask and listen to people share their perspectives about the troubles.
The basic rundown of "the troubles" as I have pieced together- Irish are the equivalent of the indigenous people, their story is very similar to Native Americans. They were forced to live off the worst land, when invaded. They are the underdogs always having to fight for survival and a sense of identity. They were converted to Catholicism ( started with St Patrick) by force, then the reformation came, with the British invading Ireland again, removing all catholic churches overtaking anything profitable and replacing it with the reformed churches, protestant churches. Most of the great old catholic cathedrals from the 1200's are protestant run. Hundreds of years later, the conflict continues as some want to own their Irish Identity, and some was to stick with their British identity( stay with the UK, run themselves). 2007 was when the last "peace troops"- brisith soldiers left. The centre is right on the border, across the bay is the republic of Ireland, so the Catholic and the protestants have strong communities here, a tenth of the bombs during the troubles hit this area.
A group of leaders of a kid center came and shared about what they have been doing in a neighboring town for the youth ( the community here prays for different programs and so the programs come to share what they need prayer for). Suicide rate among teens is outrageous, as well as the typical drugs,drinking issues. The "troubles" affect them as well, and continue to keep it a mostly protestant group. The churches avoid involvment, and the youth stay out of the churches, they say they find it irrelevant to them. The odd thing is, the Protestant and Catholic divide is still what they define themselves by, it is a very large part of their culture, they have different schools, pubs, languages, money, sides of the street, they don't marry each other. Talking to the kids ( some came), it seems like an accepted part of their life, no bitterness or sense of ridiculousness, it just is.
This last weekend a group of 20 somethings came for a retreat weekend. I was talking to one girl about her desire to do cross community work and she shared how last week she met little catholic 5 year old kid running around with sticks so he can beat the protestants if they come near ( when asked she says she is a christian, not identifying herself as either).
Other people from the retreat groan when it is brought up, as it is an age old argument that is, what it is.
I learned they may be a link with what has happened to the Native Americans. I was sharing my thoughts with a guy here on the similarities between the two groups and he told how he feels the Irish brought that to America. He has been researching Samuel L Jackson ( Irish) and his involvement in the trail of tears. The man I was speaking to was saying how the Irish did to the Indians, what had been done to them, setting in place the legacy of stripping their identity and culture. In both countries the legacy is continuing to tread upon the current generations.
So that was anything by brief; I hope it was at least intersting to you ( if not, thanks for being a dedicated reader, or least skipping to the end, beliving there may be somthing else interesting here, I do that too sometimes).
yoga is seen as mystical/ evil/witchcraft- not to be done on the beautiful lawns overlooking the sea, unless I call them stretches ( that is perfectly acceptable)
St Patrick's day- not celebrated, but acknowledged, like president's day I think, but they work, and maybe have a pint or two more than normal.
st Patrick- has nothing to do with a leprechaun, didn't drive out snakes- only Celtics, was a slave from England and is claimed to be buried at about 4 different places in Ireland. I saw one!
black and tan- not just a drink- a insult going back to the first British invasion
Holy cow as an expression- highly offensive to the christian folk ( who knew!)
EVERYBODY irons their sheets!- after a 20min conversation with several locals, i finally got to the difference- they don't use dryers and this all is wrinkled, so they iron. their electricity is ridiculously more expensive than ours.
people speak irish- galic- there are Tv shows in it and every sign has both languages!
I am trying to be creative with the answer to where are you from( i answer it 15xs a day at least): followed by the where's Oregon game, so if you have any interesting Oregon facts let me know!
When it comes to being able to understand people, it feels like talking in a foreign language I am fluent in, but there is still lag time as I translate what the person said.
I mostly clean, set tables, wash dishes walk in the "mountains" ( i try hard not to be too much of a mountain snob and insult their tall hills), read and spend the 4 hours a day we spend on breaks or meals chatting with whoever is here, guests, staff, and locals and in between. It is great just to participate and I cant begin to summarize it all.
I went to a pub and was properly harassed by the good humored aged Irish men. I had my first Guinness and they were shocked a christian was drinking ( they all ask were we were staying). It led to a good conversation about Jesus being a big fan of wine and that yes, even old alcholoics were welcome to visit the the christian centre.
My day one day off, I went with one of the staff to a beach town resort, and the church/grave of St Patrick. I learned all about his life and death, very interesting. They take great
pride in their patron saint even if they don't do to much for his day.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
The people here are very kind and open. Everyone greets everyone on the street, ( the Irish do not say top of the morn'ng to ya, they were quick to inform me, ah the lovely American who precede me in this village).
My bus driver forgot to let me off at the centre and so I ended up riding his whole route and seeing the country side while he educated my on why one shouldn't try to use the Euro in N Ireland( north south conflict issue) among other things. I tried to explain snowboarding to him when he asked if I do winter sports, ( skate boarding and surfing were lost comparisons)
I eventually arrived at the christian renewal centre and have rested, become acquainted with the community and am learning the routine
The scenery is pristinly bucolic. Rostover the village is exactly what you would hope for, stone churches, brick homes covered in ivy, a pub every other store front, with old English font signs in gold.The sea is one border and the "mountains" ( big hills) are the other. The Mourne mountains are a national park and so there are lots of walking trails that I have spent my afternoons meandering along.
The place I am staying at (CRC) is a 150 year old manor house. It is huge and has many corners and rooms tucked in crevices ( no secret passages, but I'm not done snooping about, i did find the attic!). There are 7 or so community members who live and run the centre. We eat all of our meals together and pray twice a day together. All are kind and gracious people. The pace is SLOW to put it mildly. The work day begins at 10, tea time at 11, lunch at 1, and we are done by 4. So as I hoped, I have time to rest, walk, read and be, I feel quite spoiled with so much me time. Although it is only day 3, i am surprised I'm not sick of it or bored yet. My cold is slowly fading.
I am learning in every conversation about the "troubles" as the conflict in Ireland is referred to here. Although the country is in a time of "peace" all admit the lack of fighting is more of a frosting than a sign of reconciliation. The towns are divided (banks,schools,pubs,music, culture,stores) protestant and catholic and the opposition is right underneath the surface. I have been told no bombs are progress, and the sides at least speak to each other, but no one feels peace.
For example, we went to a Benedictine monastery on Friday night, they were hosting a messianic Jew who was speaking on the significance of the Jewish roots to Christianity. My host told me both Catholic and Protestants were present as Benedictine were liberal monks and a Jewish speaker was unbias. some color coding of stick people ( the only way to keep the story short it to leave it at that) on a PowerPoint slide, ended up being divided into red, and yellow on one side and green on the other. the comment "orange and green I see" ( the colors of the two sides in conflict) was made and although a laugh went through the crowd, there was this palpable tension as well. Something so unrelated to the conflict was still viewed as a reflection of the divide.
I feel so unaware of the how present the troubles are, like walking in fog, i tread lightly in all I say and yet still trip on it. I made a comment about wanting to have my first Guinness in a Irish pub, and a women near by said "obviously you are a protestant christian girl if you drink in a pub;" evidently a good catholic girl doesn't speak of drinking in a pub. My host assured her not to worry, I was just American. :)
i am definitely more liberal than those in the christian realm here; I'll write more next time, but doing yoga is as bad doing drugs to them, i fear!
I haven't braved the pubs yet, as there isn't anyone to go with, but I am American so at least I can you that as an excuse for my brassiness!
Love to you all!
I will attempt to add photos tommorrow!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I am leaving for Ireland. I have been blessed with many great friendships this last year, some with great perks such as free (or seriously cheap) plane tickets, or free books, free couches to sleep on, business trips to bum along on, in addition to all the normal goodness that comes along with having a great variety of people and loved ones in my life. I feel I have fully taken advantage of all of these friendships, all the challenges, and blessing that they brought ( free travel was NOT a challenge).
But now I am for the first time, going at it alone. I am going to Ireland, all by myself to meet, be met, learn and be taught, and just be.
As all who know me can guess, I am late, so this is going to be it,
Where I am going to be; check them out!