We’ve recently returned from a trip to England and Ireland. I love to travel for many reasons - for the beauty of it, the fun of it, and for the experiences and knowledge that we can learn from people of other cultures. This trip began with a fairytale wedding of a dear friend's daughter in England. She married an English man and Ken helped officiate the ceremony in a church built from the ruins of a castle. One man’s tomb in the floor of the church dated to 688AD! We were astounded at the privilege of being part of the history of a church that has persevered throughout the centuries.
It was a celebration of two people deeply in love, two cultures and families joining together. This dear couple has worked in disaster relief to help rebuild countries and meet the needs of children across the globe. People came from all over the world to celebrate this sacred event. It was such a delight to share such treasured memories with dear friends and we loved the opportunity to make new ones as we visited over wonderful food, music and dancing for 3 days of celebration! The joy and abundance of the Lord poured over us. We left forever changed and richly blessed!
After the wedding we traveled in the countryside of England and Ireland. We discovered what one tour book accurately described as
In the charming villages and inns I was reminded again of the value of stopping to have a cup of tea. My husband Ken and I spent the first year of our marriage studying music in Europe and it was there I was first exposed to the ritual of afternoon tea. You see the ritual which usually takes place in the late afternoon is about much more than the tea. It’s about resting a moment, the conversation, a break from the pressure of the day, and a bit of refreshment to carry you through the rest of the evening.
We stayed at guesthouses or B& B’s rather than hotels on our two week trip. Each day when we arrived, no matter what the time, we were always offered a pot of tea with a cookie or light snack. It was a loving offer of hospitality. I loved watching what the ritual did for the guests.
As we savored the tea in the main living area or outside drinking in God's beauty, we would introduce ourselves, watch others come in from their travels and share the discoveries of the day and plans for the night or following day. New friendships were formed. People took time to listen and tell stories. As we all soaked in the moments, the weariness of a day of touring subsided.
On our last day in Ireland we left the lovely Pax guesthouse in the town of Dingle after lingering over a full Irish breakfast with our new friends and drove up the coast a few hours to see the famous Cliffs of Moher. They are truly one of the most astounding sights in all of God’s creation. For five miles these cliffs make a dramatic 650 foot drop into the ocean. As we walked the cliffs, a little weak kneed, an Irish street (cliff) musician played music. It was a gift of God's majesty to behold, a view we will never forget. After a few hours we had to leave to drive to our final inn near the Shannon Airport.
But.... the town of Doolin, famous for it’s Irish music in the pubs, was only a 30 minute drive away and we couldn’t resist. It was still late afternoon and so we didn’t really expect the music to be playing. The streets seemed unusually empty and as we were about to leave we decided to have a bite of supper in one of the pubs before driving to our final stop.
As we entered the pub we discovered where everyone was! The place was packed, music filled the air, people of all ages were singing and laughing and of course we had to stay. Children danced with their fathers. A young girl of about 14 played her violin... she was learning about this way of life. A singer whom everyone seemed to know arrived from Dublin and broke out in a beautiful ballad and all stopped what they were doing and listened.
Seasoned musicians played the familiar folk tunes we had heard on our travels. Everyone clapped and sang along. And then a man who appeared to be in his 80's hobbled in with one leg, sat on a stool and began to sing. The place went silent as his aged voice soared with the beauty of an old man offering his gift of music. His lament captured the war torn suffering, years of famine, longing and perseverance of the Irish people like nothing else. We wept. I hated to leave this place, this people who had touched my soul with love, beauty, music and kindness.
After a few hours we had to leave, called our inn and apologized for our late arrival. They seemed to understand. As we drove up about 9:30pm we were warmly greeted and showed to our room. And our lovely hostess offered to make us a pot of tea! Of course we accepted. It had become a welcome ritual, although we hadn’t expected it at such a late hour. And so we had our final tea in Ireland, visited with yet another new friend and shared our stories and life together.
You see the ritual of a cup of tea - with new and old friends, your spouse, a child or in a quiet time with Jesus is really about slowing down the pace of the day and taking a moment to breathe.
I had learned this lesson years ago and this trip was a great reminder to me of the blessing.
My youngest daughter discovered early in her life that when she wanted some uninterrupted time with me to say, “Mom let’s have a cup of tea and chat!”
Who could resist that invitation!
Last weekend while I was still grieving having to leave Ireland, she sent me this picture from Oklahoma City with the text
“Beautiful crisp afternoon with Jesus.
Love and miss ya’ll.”
Maybe today if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with everything but Jesus, you need to give yourself permission to pause and be still, enter into His presence, come out of the busyness and enter into relationship and savor the moments of your days.
It’s a choice each of us can make
Still the voices - the distractions -
the tyranny of the urgent...
relax and think......
adjust our priorities with God’s,
Call out His name,
pray for your loved ones,
or listen to the heart of a friend.
Let me encourage you this week to purpose to live a little differently -
take a moment to pause and savor a cup of tea.
More importantly, savor all that comes with it.
“Communion in His presence is always the gift the present moment offers.” Ann Voskamp
On our trip we visited the county Cork area of my Irish roots. It was beautiful to visit the ruins of places where my ancestors may have lived centuries ago. We traveled to the Rock of Cashel where Christianity came to the western world through St. Patrick in 450 AD. My own McCarty roots are connected to the Chapel at this site and the surrounding areas. It was awe inspiring to think of the sacrifices believers have made through the centuries that we might know the Savior.
I think I’ll fix a cup of tea and meditate on the inspiring and powerful words of truth found on
St. Patricks breastplate. Perhaps you would like to join me in the days ahead wherever you are.
A portion of St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
In the little musical town of Doolin I found a small plate with the Irish blessing below.
I often heard my father speak these words over those he loved when I was growing up.
Blessings in Christ,
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