Friday, July 20, 2012

St. Anne’s Glorious Bells

I sincerely apologize for not posting sooner. I have been terribly busy and well…a bit under the weather for a while now. However, I am back and hope to post more frequently! So, hopefully all of you are doing well (or at least those of you who are still reading my blog!)

Since I last left you with my amazing experience at the Jameson Distillery in Dublin, I have been mulling over my photos and video from my trip. Recounting the two weeks I spent there, I find myself wishing to see more. Don’t get me wrong, I am whole-heartedly grateful and blessed to have seen what I did; however, after trips like these, it only fuels the urge within me to travel more. It is experiences like the ones I had with my mom in Ireland that make me want to see more of God’s great creations.

For instance, while in Cork, we visited the small, yet stunning Church of St. Anne. Overlooking much of the city, the church was built in the 16th century, complete with its famous bells, which can be heard far and wide. Stepping inside, we were the only people visiting that day. A nice break from the bit of drizzle outside, the church provided a serene environment for reflection and gratitude. That was one thing about this trip…with each church we visited, I found myself taking time to pray and give thanks to God for allowing me to be there in that moment, and to see what this world has to offer. With each prayer, I felt more and more humbled.

Although the sanctuary was small, the history that lay within was tremendous. Books that dated back centuries and centuries lay beneath glass and a small podium allowed visitors to write the name of a loved one in need of prayer. White walls surrounded us as we walked the perimeter. Making our way out of the sanctuary, we asked to go up to the viewing deck, with the hopes that we may be able to ring the infamous bells.

Before we were allowed up, we were given large ear protectors for when the bell is rung. Climbing the stairs, we came to a wooden platform. Looking to the right, we spotted eight long ropes, each connected to eight separate bells. Each rope had a number and before it was a small podium with a book full of songs. Looking to my mom, I was unsure if we were “allowed” to play, so, deciding to bypass the bells, we continued our trek to the top.

As the stairs grew steeper and more confined, I felt my backpack beginning to rub against both sides of the wall. Now, I am not a claustrophobic person; however, the closeness that this staircase presented was making me a bit nervous. Arriving at what looked to be like a large attic, the massive bell sat waiting for its next visitor. My mom, the eager woman that she is, moved forward and rung it loudly, sending a smile across her face. I was up next, which I gladly took my turn….thankfully, the ear protectors were there to save us from the massive “gong” sound that rung out only inches away from our precious eardrums.

Spotting a rickety ladder, complete with a make-shift sign with an arrow pointing up, I followed my mom up to what soon led us to the viewing deck. Stepping out, it wasn’t the wind that nearly took our breath away, but the view. Standing at the top of St. Anne’s, we looked out to see the beautiful city of Cork beneath us. Never could I have imagined that I would be standing in such a place.

Although the sky above us was cloudy, there was no way I was going to let a little rain ruin the feeling I was having in that moment. That is what I find so humorous about people. We look around us every day and feel nothing about the environment we live in and the places we is a luxury that we take for granted each day. I am just as guilty as everyone else; however, when you stand atop a church that has seen the horrors of war and look out onto a land so full of life and wonder…you can’t not be thankful for what God has given and presented to us. To see things that many only read in books and to see the expression on my mother’s face…now that is what makes traveling worthwhile.

Climbing back down the stairs, we arrived back on the wooden platform; the bells once again luring us to play. Opting to not pass up this chance again, we both walked towards the ropes and prepared to play. Thumbing through the booklet, we settled on the beauty that is “Amazing Grace.” With each word assigned a number, we began to play the sweet words.

Amazing Grace
How Sweet the Sound
That Saved a Wretch Like Me
I Once Was Lost
But Now I’m Found
Was Blind But Now I See

My mom was so excited that she made me get out the video camera and film her as she played the song once more. To watch her as she rang each bell, I knew that this was something she would never forget. Her determination to play each word, it was like nothing I’d ever seen.  This opportunity was that “sweet sound” that is talked about in the song. As the song ended, she grinned wider than ever, turning to camera and giving a proper thumbs up.

Exiting the church, I knew that playing those bells would become a memory that she would tuck away forever; one that she will revisit often as she looks back on our time spent in Ireland. The words to that song truly speak volumes when visiting new places….blinded by the normalcy that everyday life can bring, visiting new places causes us to open our eyes and see the beauty that lies around.