We are returned from a week in Ireland. It was a wonderful time, highlighted by family time. I plan to share some reflections on what we experienced there, and hope this is not a "what I did on my vacation" sort of blathering. I can say that if you find yourself in a position to go, take it!
In Dublin we went to Trinity University, which houses the most elaborate of the illustrated Medieval Gospel texts: The Book of Kells.I am a University type of guy and found myself fantasizing about spending a semester there studying the history of the Celtic Church or some similar pursuit. The Book of Kells is in the old library, which was stunning in beauty. There is nothing so respectful of books as an old library.
There is a hall which prepares one to see the actual which explains the whole process of creating the wrting materials, making books, etc. You can see the book of Kellls online here:
The thing that struck me was how incredibly laborious and painstaking it must have been. They spent hour after hour slowly constructing the books and illustrating, everything by hand. I have never done anything with that level of commitment and work. It was a wonder of faith and love on display. The love of God's Word is manifest in this work. They hand wrote every Bible. Hand wrote in a long slow process of creating ink, dabbing with a pen and scratching out a letter, each letter, one by one. I pour out volumes with my computer with minimal effort. Yet without those monks and all their work we would not have Bibles today. [something I wish Bible loving Christians today would remember when they speak negatively about monasticism.] I was keenly aware of our dependence on those who have gone before us!
So things to ponder, what work of love do I perform for God each day? How am I grateful for the hard work of others? Worth thinking about....
The other thing that happened was my response to seeing the text. I had written a paper on the Book of Kells in my church history class in 1980. I was only mildly interested in it. Yet I have had a connection of sort ever since. It is funny how time spent in college does that. I was interested in seeing the book but not terribly excited until I saw it. Suddenly a wave of deep emotion hit me. I almost wept. I was surprised by the reaction. For a moment I just had a "there It is" insight. I have found that in my latter years less and less seems able to move me deeply. Perhaps the "been there done that" nature of many years? Or maybe "old, cranky, tired"? Or even "too much to do, too busy"? Whatever it is, I sometimes wonder what is wrong with me (and I find many men my age sort of ask the same thing). Anyhow, there was something sacred in the moment of seeing the book. There was a God connection, soft and quiet, but deep. And I was glad to feel it.
A reminder of sacraments; the God who comes in and through this world.
It is good to be back on the blog!