It is Wednesday, October 17th 2007. I slept in until noon today, and as I wake I can taste the previous night’s cigarettes in my mouth. It has been months since I smoked one let alone two, but the French girls Charley and I hung out with smoked frequently so we decided to indulge them a bit. Though I have slept late in the day, it has not been without interruption. At one point I awoke to one of the French girls whispering my name and asking me to stop snoring so loudly! “You’ve slept for three hours! Now let us sleep for three hours!” It was quite funny and embarrassing at the same time. They were kind about it. I gently turn on my side and hope that my snoring subsides. When I wake up at twelve the girls are gone, they drove to Galway that morning. Charley and I should have gone with them, they hinted at us going but we hesitated. But we finally make a day of it and join up with Chad for a walk through the city.
We walk through the Temple Bar discrict, Grafton Street, around Trinity College and to the south of Dublin. We stop to watch some football and get some beer and coffee at a pub. We tried to get into St. Patrick’s Cathedral but they had some special service going on, disappointing but then we sit in the park right next to it and hang out. The sun is setting in the West and the rays shine through the trees to create a contrast of light and dark on the grass and pavement that at once feels warm even though a cool breeze moves all around us. As we head back towards our hostel, we pass by Christ Church Cathedral, which is the oldest church in Dublin. It is 5:30 in the evening so we decide to step in for an evensong service. The choir begins to sing, and this ancient church reminds me that people have walked many miles in their lives and have hopefully encountered the divine in the same space where I now pause to raise my ear in hopes of at least hearing a whisper. I have more hope today that people can genuinely reflect the nature of God at times in life, and I see in the hostels that people just want to meet other people and to know that they are not crazy in their loneliness. I find myself wanting to hear someone else’s story, where they came from, how they view life, and where they want to go next. I want to tell my story too, to provide a small glimpse into my little world, my customs, my oddities.
Before we get to the hostel, we stop in at a market and buy some food supplies for our dinner meal. We decide on spaghetti. Cheap, quick, and it serves a lot. It is the best meal I have had in a long time. Miles of walking will create unrelenting hunger. And so we stuff ourselves, and yet we have some left over for our new friend Sako, a Japanese girl who was cooking food alongside us. She burned the rice she was making so it works out perfect. She sits at our table and talks with us awhile and tells us about how work at a local coffee shop was going. She loves Japan but wanted a new experience, and Ireland seemed intriguing to her. After dinner, we invite Sako out with us for a few drinks and to listen to some music. We travel to the outskirts of the Temple Bar area and encounter this small pub and overhear a musician inside playing some American pop music on his acoustic guitar. As we approach the door, a big Irishman with broad shoulders steps in my way. “There is a cover” he says shortly with a stern manner. I look back to the group in confusion and go to grab my wallet and as I turn back the man’s shoulders fall and he begins to laugh hysterically. “Just kiddin’ man, come on in!” I laugh nervously but it was a funny moment. The people here so far are just genuinely friendly, and in this short encounter I realize that Dublin feels comfortable, it fits me better than I had previously assumed. The Guiness begins to flow from the tap and falls into our glasses, which eventually fills our stomachs. And we sat back and enjoy a good show by the young singer in the corner covering Dave Matthews, David Gray, and U2 tunes.
Tomorrow we leave for Sevilla. I am a little nervous to be going to Spain. I wonder how the language barrier will be. But this trip is already about taking risks, about getting outside of the comfort zones we defend ourselves with. And as scary as it can get, I still find moments of comfort. And the way I make sense of it is that God is indeed full of grace.