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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Peace Among Chaos

by Lisa Becker 

Oh, the Emerald Isle. It only takes your flight landing at the airport in Dublin to immediately understand where that nickname came from. Even in the cold of January, albeit not nearly as cold as back home, the grass is a lush green and some flowers are even still in bloom. For our free day a tour was arranged up to the coast for some sightseeing. We began at the beautiful Mussenden Temple and ruins at Downhill Demesne.  My tour group laughed at my comment that it was “Like Nevada” when I saw the sheep grazing the open range among the ruins.  I suppose that was quite the generalization, but open range is open range, regardless of the type of range.

Our next stop was Giant’s Causeway, a beautiful wonder on the Northern Ireland coast made up of green hills and naturally occurring basalt columns. Our bus dropped us at the visitor’s center and from there we made the slightly treacherous trek down to the causeway itself. The day was overcast and incredibly windy with some light rain, but certainly expected for January on the Irish Coast. We eventually made it to the calm center of the world at the most beautiful part of the causeway. As I peered out across the water all I felt was a completely peaceful contentment. That hour yesterday afternoon was the first time in months, years maybe, that I have felt so calm. I wasn’t thinking about work or traveling or school or laundry or any of the other things that make life so hectic. I was able to be purely in the moment.

The thing that really strikes me now is the juxtaposition between the chaos surrounding me and my inner peace. The almost 60 mph winds practically blew me over; the massive waves crashed raucously into the coast; the water sprayed up onto land and fell from the sky throughout the drenching rainstorm; the multitudes of tourists walked and ran up and down the path speaking every language on earth while working toward their destination. Yet somehow, through all of that I found my inner calm.

That tour of the coast was much like the recent history of Northern Ireland. Amidst the turmoil of war and struggle, hardship and violence, the people of Derry have found peace. Sure, the peace process is still in its infancy, but it seems to be making a difference in the lives of the local people.

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