Just a few days ago I was standing on the Hill of Tara near the city of Dublin. It was truly an incredible experience, a moment I will treasure always and a beauty that I will hold in my heart. From this place you can turn in a circle and see incredible vistas on every side—it almost feels like you’re looking out across all of Ireland from where you stand amidst the green, rolling hills.
Many things can be said about the significance of this place in history, and even present claims of its residual spirituality. But for now, I will merely try to put into words what I experienced on that hill, and what my recent trip to Ireland has meant to my personal journey.
As I walked the rolling hills of Tara and breathed in its beauty, I could feel my heart expanding, I could sense the Creator of all of this green filling me up, and I understood in those moments his delight in doing so. This trip was a turning point on the road that winds through my heart. The beauty that my eyes beheld spoke to and awakened spiritual truths that I desperately needed reminders of. Like how to be still, how to notice the moments that are pure gifts and enjoy them without letting worries of what’s to come or of what has been crowd out my receptivity. I think one of the most prominent things God taught me during this trip was how to let my heart be expanded. I recognized that I’d been living with a cramped heart, with constant fears and worries pushing out notions of new possibilities, the ability to love, the grace to accept myself and others. When we live within a tight space, we can’t allow room for healing to come in because we’re expending all our energy in this continual struggle to worm ourselves out of our claustrophobia. Cramped spaces foster panic, stress, discomfort, and resistance until the air becomes so thick that peace cannot even exist there. New horizons and possibilities are seen through such a miniscule pinpoint that they might as well disintegrate into ash.
As I traveled through the countrysides and cities of Ireland, its painful past and its eternal beauty penetrating my thoughts, God stretched my heart little by little. As I let down and let the terrain speak to me, I realized that I had found home in the middle of these wide, open places. I realized that maybe if I stopped applying all my effort towards getting out of and avoiding the tight and uncomfortable spots in my life, then maybe I would actually be able to let things in. And then God said on the Hill of Tara that just as I was standing in the midst of a wide, open space, he was going to create a wide, open space within me. I realized that I can take beauty with me wherever I go, that it is not limited to a moment in time or the physical location where I am presently standing. That I can find and cultivate home within the wide green hills inside my heart.
I parallel this to what the Irish people themselves have endured. How especially during the Potato Famine in the late 1800’s, so many were forced to leave Ireland just to survive. The Irish have had so much taken from them, have experienced unprecedented amounts of suffering and oppression. They have had much reason to fear, to panic, to hold on tightly and shut down their hearts, letting them contract as a means to protect themselves and the identities they cling to. And perhaps some did this. But I think many, many of them instead allowed the strength given to them by God to expand their chests, and along with that, their ability to find home and be at peace wherever they were forced to go. I think that this strength mirrored the beauty of the home they carried in their hearts. In their homeland of Ireland, circumstances had turned beauty into desolation; but all the same, the Irish people learned to turn desolation into hope, determined to make a new land their home. Hope was found in eyes that looked forward to an eternal home with God, knowing that the beauty of Ireland was only a dim shadow of what was to come.
With an expanded heart that is willing to trust again, despite what has been done to it, it is possible to carry the song of the wide, open spaces with us wherever we go, and to find home as we dance among the rolling hills in our hearts. I want to cultivate a place—a traveling home, if you will— where anyone can come in and find peace, be accepted, and allow beauty to expand their own horizons.
A chase across the world, a call borne on wind
My heart inflated with a dream not formed with words
A deep knowing, a twinkle that matched my Father’s eye
I’ve searched for this dream, striving to keep the passion alive
But sometimes it seems it just wants to die
Who am I that you would fill me so?
I have more beauty inside than I behold
Who am I, oh God who created me?
What in the universe have you put in me?
Creation groans to find out,
Nature yearns for its revealing
But my flesh and soul are so unyielding,
And it’s time to let go—
Throw a little trust to the wind and see where he takes it
Toss a little bravery into the sea and see where the waves bring me
Cast a little love across the world
And stop chasing fantasies,
But instead see that what I desire is the truest reality
And this dream is something of substance
Breathed to life by boldness and imagination
It’s time for my enemies’ obliteration
And to remember the kingdom from which I was thought up
Brought up on Earth, but my home is in the mystery of what I cannot see
In your arms, Father, I am free