"Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture."
Psalm 100 is very short - the shortest psalm in fact. You might want to read the whole thing, all five verses. You'll be glad you did.
Sheep without a shepherd are usually in trouble - sort of like us humans. We're often in turmoil and forget that we have our very own shepherd who loves us and is able to lead us out of our present dilemma so we can leave the mess behind and enjoy greener pastures.
At the Glasgow airport, our group of writers were met by a smiling, very pleasant looking man, Peter Murphy. Peter, founder of 'Murphy Writing of Stockton University' in New Jersey would lead our workshop for the next several days assisted by his helpful, efficient daughter, Amanda. We all boarded a bus and headed for Dundee. I enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way. This would be our home for the following week - the University of Dundee. I'd never heard of Dundee before arriving. It's a lovely place spread along the River Tay. The University sits atop a hill and flows into a small town with plenty of all you need, pubs, restaurants, shopping, and even a very nice museum. We stayed in the dorms - they call them 'flats' - and had the choice of walking up a very steep hill, or climbing 105 steps to get to our classroom at the university. It crossed my mind that I might be getting too old for this kind of strenuous activity, but I did it and no doubt better off for it!
We were a varied bunch - varied in age, where we came from, careers, faith, politics, writing experiences, etc. But somehow with all the differences we were able to meld into one group, supportive of one another, complimenting one another. We were also blessed with a 'faculty' of talented, capable and caring people who assisted the class. This we had in common - the love of writing. I'll always remember my classmates and wish there'd been more time to hear their stories.
I am a wanderer at heart and was so happy for the opportunity to do some sightseeing, together as a group and independently. What a thrill to visit beautiful Edinburgh and explore the 11th century castle which was used as a fortress and involved in many historical conflicts. If you are a fan of the TV 'Outlander' series, the story of the Jacobite Rising in 1745, you'd be interested to know the involvement of this historic castle/fortress in this event. I could picture Jamie and Claire there! Even though I've never been a Harry Potter fan, I must admit that I enjoyed visiting the Elephant House Coffee Shop where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter Book. Edinburgh is absolutely a charming place.
St. Andrews was another thrill. This famous school of royalty was birthed in 1413. The prized golf course, home of so many distinguished tournaments, is like an oasis on the sea, sandy beach and all. It's simply stunning. The buildings spread through a rambling campus. Prince William and Princess Kate of England attended this school together. I so wish my late husband could have been here with me - being a golfer, he would have loved it.
If you are a writer, I highly recommend the Murphy Writing of Stockton University in New Jersey 'Get Away and Write' program. Most programs take place in the U.S. on the east coast, Google them!
I spent a couple of days in Glasgow, then flew to Dublin, Ireland - another place I've never been and home to many famous writers, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and William Butler Yeats. I saw a big sign in the airport which said. . .
"We don't travel to escape life; we travel so life doesn't escape us."
Amen to that! Travel is so very enriching and I thank the Lord profusely every time He sends me on a trip. In fact, I have a favorite travel verse that I find very comforting.
"My presence will go with you and I will give you rest."
I feel safe anyplace in the world because I know the Lord is always with me, wherever I am. I've discovered that the best and least expensive way to see a city is to get a 'Hop-On, Hop-Off' bus. It'll take you to all the sights and places of interest and there will be someone on board, or a tape, that will give a running commentary of information. I was in Dublin three days and spent two of them hopping on and off buses.
I was so excited to be on the campus of Trinity College established in 1592 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First in order to provide a 'Protestant' influence. It's so beautiful. I stood in line a very long time along with a constant growing group of people, hundreds I'd say, to see the 'Book of Kells' exhibit. This is a precious book written around 800 A.D that contains the four gospels, written by hand in Latin by monks and beautifully illustrated with amazing vivid colors, and perfectly preserved. The fact that all these people, day after day, stand in line for hours to see a copy of the gospels from the Bible in a language that most cannot read, does not escape my notice. Sometimes we're led to believe that there isn't much interest in the God of the Bible anymore - I've witnessed much evidence that this is not true.
After viewing the Book of Kells exhibit, I found my way to the old, original library into what they call the 'Long Room'. It took my breath away! The room is 65 meters long, contains over 200,000 of the library's oldest books stacked two stories high with a beautiful barrel-vaulted ceiling and marble busts lined up on both sides - Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Homer, - we know these guys! I stood there, enthralled. Students no longer have access to these old treasures.
I made a stop to an interesting museum in a park-like setting outside of the downtown area and saw the original painting by Spanish artist Salvador Dali - 'Christ of St John of the Cross' painted in 1951. This oil on canvas has become quite famous because of the unusual perspective, looking down from above at Christ on the cross.
I visited St. Patrick's Cathedral. St. Patrick wasn't buried there; his grave is in Northern Ireland. Guinness, the man who started the brewery and supplies gallons of beer to the world every day, paid to restore this old cathedral many years ago. Within its walls is the large stone that was found under the well where it's been said St. Patrick baptized people. The guide on the bus said that there were both Catholic and Protestant churches in the Dublin area and also the church of the 'Born-Agains'. He said this was the most active and attended church in this part of Ireland. This is true in the U.S. also. Praise the Lord, we are moving away from 'religion' and seeking a 'relationship' with Jesus! This is exactly why I write this blog, to encourage this transformation of thinking.
On my last day in Dublin - I stayed at a B&B in Donnybrook a few miles from city center - I was getting a little tired, so much walking, mostly on uneven surfaces. It started to rain, about 5 PM. I was in an area of pubs and ducked into 'The Bank on College Green'. Again, it almost took my breath away! Such an exquisite building; at one time a bank. I sat down and looked at the menu. There was a list of whiskey's, yup, Irish whiskey! I had to chuckle when I saw 'Writer's Tears' and would love to know the genesis of the name. I had the a bowl of steaming hot seafood chowder, super delicious. This was a great way to end my short stay in Dublin.
I need to end where I begin, Psalm 100. . .
"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Vs. 5
Thank you Lord for allowing me to go on this wonderful trip, meet such interesting people, be inspired to be a better writer and see more of this lovely world you have made for us - the sheep of your pasture.