Well, by now you have been bombarded by Northern walker’s posts! The pressure finally got to us!
I love music and poetry. They speak to me a lot, so I’ll share a few of my thoughts through a special song. Before I left to join the walkers (two weeks late- exams hadn’t quite finished) my little sister excitedly played a song for me titled Something Beautiful by NeedtoBreathe. Then when I arrived here and was missing my lovely family terribly, (Nil aon tintean mar do thintean fein)one of the girls played the same song in the van. It has since become my little anthem for this summer.
So some beautiful things I have discovered….
– A beautiful American family, my fellow walkers are such special people. Already we’ve built up hundreds of memories to tell the grandkids some day!
- “I’m sorry… I’m Irish” (a favored quote..)
- Daring a fellow walker (no names…) to speak to a cop using an English accent
- Having the craic in the van! (don’t worry its just an irish phrase… haha)
- Sharing Life Maps….
- Sleeping in Walmart car parks
- Hearing wild beasts attacking in the night and running the last mile
- Five of us girls holding hands around a fire and praying for the things that lie in the depths of our hearts,
- ‘Almighty’ laughter with host families around a dinner table (seriously, we could NOT stop!),
- During a game of ‘I spy…. something white’ our walk leader guessing ‘Niamh’
And the list goes on…
– A renewed relationship with my patron saint, St. Philomena, and my little sister Francis in heaven. (Although, I have two sisters at home, and now 6 American sisters!) I have felt so close to Philomena and Francis- they have given me a lot of strength. They are my sisters in heaven talking care of me. While reading a book on St. Philomena, I learned that there is a shrine to her and a relic of her bones not too far from where we are walking. I was filled with a desire to go and visit her, so I prayed that she would organize it if it was what was right. Then in Chicago last weekend a local priest showed us his extensive collection of relics, and of course there was a relic to my friend St. Philomena! I didn’t get to her shrine but she gave me that little blessing instead.
– HE IS EVERYWHERE! The Planned Parenthood in Billings was the first abortion clinic I had ever seen in my life, and the experience was extremely upsetting for me. But I was shocked by the enormous presence of God that I felt while praying there. He was practically shouting at me “SEE Niamh, there is NO place or NO person that I ever abandon! All I ask is that you trust in me.” We just need to ask, as this song says “Hey now/ this is my desire/ consume me like a fire,/ cause I just want/ something beautiful to touch me.”
– This summer has presented me with many challenges. As any of the group will confirm, I cry A LOT! At times I feel like I don’t know why I am here, or what He wants me to do as the titled songs says “I am down on my knees/ waiting for/ something beautiful.” I feel like God has brought me to my knees this summer. It has been such a humbling experience so far- feeling powerless against the massive issue we are attempting to stand up against, exploring my personal relationship with Jesus and what I believe to be the truth, being so far from my home (Ireland) and learning so much about myself. God has shown me, in the short twenty years that I have been alive, that life is His biggest gift to me. Although I struggle very much with trying to figure out WHY we are actually here and what He needs me to do, I know for certain that life is precious. It is fragile and often very difficult, but as a beautiful woman that walked with us wrote “My cracks don’t prevent life, but allow life to blow through.” All our struggles and wounds are what allow us to live. “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Cor.12:10).
As a beautiful old man said to us with tears in his eyes after daily mass in South Dakota “He IS everything. It is done, we are safe. Now we have to live.”
So my ‘something beautiful’ this summer is the realization that I am alive, I am cherished, I will never be abandoned. If only all those innocent babies were allowed to experience this life and come to the same realization; that really would be something beautiful.
P.S. BEST OF LUCK to the IRISH WALK starting this weekend!!! woooh!! 🙂 Go mbeannai Dia is Muire daoibh….