Eleven pilgrims from Iowa began meeting once a month on Sunday afternoons last January to study Celtic Christianity together, following the work of John O’Donohue, who wrote the international best seller Anam Cara
. Anam Cara is an old Gaelic word meaning, “soul friend,” and was used in the Celtic spiritual tradition to refer to a person or persons who accompany one’s soul on the journey through this life as it encounters its destiny with God. This June, this group of anam cara friends set out to the Dingle Peninsula of Ireland to immerse themselves in the spirit and life of the land.
Rev. Denny Coon, Patty Coon, Rev. Nan Smith, Rev. Julie Wehner, Rev. Dale O’Connell, Rev. Linda O’Connell, Rev. Beverly Butler, Cathy Link, Sheryl Morey, Steve Bellon and Dr. Mary Fraser took their intentions to experience the landscape of this spirituality, and their hiking boots, and walked approximately 50-65 miles (depending on the hiker!) across a landscape of sea and sky, meadow and lane, mist and mountain. Each evening they stayed in a bed and breakfast and received hospitality from different Irish innkeepers who provided a delicious hot breakfast before the day’s hike. Luggage was transported for them, so they set forth with a knapsack with lunch and a walking stick.
Each morning and evening, a member of the group would offer devotions for the journey. They opened ourselves to the “thin space” of this ancient Irish island and learned many things along the way about the history of spirituality and Christianity in Ireland, the history of an oppressed people, and the way the language has been an undercurrent of comfort and meaning for generations.
This pilgrimage was sponsored by The Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling and followed the 2010 pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland where the Book of Kells
was originally begun although many of this Ireland group were now able to view some of the folios in Trinity College Library, Dublin.