The summer has flown by and already it feels like Fall in Ireland. The days are shorter and cool. The leaves are changing color. The streets are full of children in the morning and afternoon, wearing their school uniforms, waiting for the buses or walking in large groups with their shirttails hanging loose. Ireland is beautiful in any season, but still, I will miss the long, summer days.
What has filled my summer days?
In June I spent a week at this beautiful retreat center in Wales. It was a silent retreat, with the opportunity to meet each day with a Spiritual Director. It was intense, and relaxing, and the setting was beautiful. Also, I took my watercolors and began to paint again. At the end of August, I was back there for a guided retreat this time (we were allowed to talk to each other). It was a wonderful end to my sabbatical and also, a lovely place to be on my birthday.
In July I was able to attend the Young Friends camp in N. Ireland. Camp had not been held in person since 2019, and I was really privileged to be the speaker this year. It was wonderful to be back at camp, engaging with young adults, old and new friends. Recently I was back at camp, this time for a gathering of leaders from the last twenty years who came together to remember one of our friends who passed away unexpectedly at the end of August. I am so thankful for these friends who have invited me in and ministered to me, while allowing me to also minister to them (as Friends do).
In August I turned 60. The celebrations started early. I had a dear friend come from the U.S. to visit for two weeks. A group of friends (some of my “mums”) went to dinner and stayed overnight at a lodge in the Wicklow mountains. My visiting friend helped me make over some things in my garden. There was a second party at a local restaurant, complete with LOUD middle eastern music, and a belly dancer! Some of my neighbors attended, along with friends from church and from the baby and toddler group. For my gift, friends have chosen different months of the following year to invite me over for dinner. My heart is full.
I have continued my studies at Barclay College and hope to complete my degree by Christmas. The baby group is up and running again. I am working on completing my Social Work registration with the Irish governing body (CORU), which I expect will open more opportunities for ministry here. AND I will be in California for a few weeks in October and November for my niece’s wedding.
Thank you for reading this far! You can pray for me as I try to balance my coursework for Barclay (completing my Capstone Project), a Continuing Professional Development course for Social Work, a visit to California – and mums and babies, families, relationships. I honestly feel energized and excited about the possibilities ahead (pray for those too!).