Generosity

The Irish are almost unnervingly serious about hospitality. All those movies with kindly housewives insisting the weary traveler sits down for a cuppatea are entirely accurate; wherever we go in this country, either long-expected or unannounced, we never fail to find doors and larders flung open for our much needed respite.

The Crossroads walk, as you know, owes everything to the charity of others. So far (and by that I mean three quarters of the way through the walk) we’ve never gone without a place to sleep, and we’ve never gone hungry. We’ve stayed everywhere from country farms to hillside mansions, and we have many people to thank. Some might say we have simply chosen a fortuitously hospitable country to trek through, while others may suggest that we’re on the receiving end of God’s providence. I say it’s both.

When we return to America next week, I know that I’ll be coming back to a place where this sort of unremitting goodness, while present, is not an everyday practice. I pray that I can become to others what these wonderful hosts have been to us. I hope that I can shed my avaricious and mistrustful nature, so that I may give to others simply because it is the right thing to do. Until then, walkin’ time. Pray for us and for the unborn, and take care.

- Jon C.

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Mary Rose

It isn’t easy being kidnapped by a Pro-Life volunteer group traveling around Ireland in a rickety white van. Perhaps kidnap is a strong word…but rickety is a very apt word for our mode of transportation.

I joined Crossroads with a completely wrong impression of what I was getting myself into. I imagined trudging through the cold, windy, rainy Irish landscape, my feet full of blisters and my bones aching from the much-needed exercise!

Instead, I got an awesome road trip with a set of amazing volunteers. I was slightly worried about fitting in with a group that’s already had two weeks to bond. But that wasn’t a problem with these guys, because we have a common goal…to protect the most vulnerable of our society.

I wish I could spend more than four days with this crowd walking to raise awareness for this extremely important cause.

It has been a great experience walking for Pro-Life and given the opportunity I would do it over…kidnapped in a rickety white van, making up band names in between walking shifts to save lives.

Mary Rose Dovel
Temp-Crossroads Walker, Co. Cork, Ireland. Age 18.

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Cliffs of Moher

 

Sometimes things do not go as planned.  Most of the time, things do not go as planned.  This does not mean you should trash the schedule and sit back and wait for things to happen, but simply, that you should rejoice and seek to glorify God within the context of the “altered” plans.  Too often these surprises or changes incite frustration, but when you are seeking to do the Will of God you can joyfully accept the unforeseen twists in “road” by surrendering to Providence.  Besides, God knows our hearts and needs so much better than we do.

More than a week and a half into the Pilgrimage Walk that is Crossroads, the walkers and leaders are “buckled down” and set on walking.  Without special grace and constantly reminding yourself of the purpose of the walking and praying, it is easy to think only of getting from point A to point B.  It was at just such time in the walk that we ran into some difficulties.  What at first seemed like a problem due to dangerous windy roads, no shoulder to walk on, and blazing traffic turned out to be just the gift that we all needed.  The detour began after driving several miles ahead in order to find a suitable place to continue walking.  Before finding a good spot to pick up, the road led us to a beautiful lake, which inspired a quick left turn down a narrow lane.  The crew spilled out of the minibus and sped to the waterside to drink in the refreshing breeze and breathtaking view.  I believe that this water, which is so symbolic in our Catholic Faith, served to wash away that temptation of limiting ourselves to serving and praising God in only one way.  That cleansing (that moment of grace) allowed me to remember that we are called to praise God in all things.  It was the sight of such beauty and the reception of such grace that inspired Patricia to suggest visiting the Cliffs of Moher.  Unanimously, the crew voted to visit the cliffs.  I, recognizing the danger of the road and the presence of the new gift, thanked God for coming into our plans.

The Cliffs of Moher, in their immensity and grandeur inspire awe.  The crashing waves of the ocean against them, inspire awe.  The “water as far as the eye can see” inspires awe.  True wonder and awe come from God through the moving of the Holy Spirit.  The wind moving over the cliffs reminded us of that Spirit .  And that Spirit inspires all good and holy thoughts, reflections, words, and actions.  It was the Spirit that inspired in all of us a renewed sense of mission.  It was our joy in prayer as we overlooked the sea that reminded us that God desires us to be happy.  It is this happiness that has rejuvenated us and led us to tie our laces and hit the road again.  No more point A to point B.  We walk, run, and pray for joy, we walk, run, and pray for life!

Tony Ertel

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Irish Friends

Tuesday week 2: The day began with a visit to Blarney castle, which was described by another walker ‘as a once in a while experience’. I had to agree. Being Irish I never planned a visit to Blarney castle and it never entered my mind to kiss the Blarney stone, ever. A tourist trap, right? Well even if it is to a certain extent I am glad to have been there and if it truly is a prize relic from the Holy Land I am all the more glad to have venerated it. The greatest joy of the day though was the family that joined us for the day, the O’Donaghues’ from Co. Wexford. Joe, Brenda and their 5 children. Joe and Brenda walked and prayed with us for the day and in-between shifts we got to play with the children, John, Pauric, Katie, Mary and Therese.  Their mere presence was an encouragement and a great reminder of why we are doing this walk. Precious children. Their beautiful little faces, their joy and love, I was struck with joy. Heart warmed thoughts rolled through me and I marveled at motherhood. To be a mother is truly wondrous, what is more important? What is more beautiful? What brings more love? Motherhood I did not consider alone, the family, it’s the family that I was marveling at so simple so beautiful. Their love for life was clear. Their openness and willingness to serve life, to live life to the full was a privilege to share for the day. They don’t need to wear shirts with PRO-LIFE printed on the front, they live it, they live it.

Patricia Mannering

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Kiss O’the Blarney!

The “Gift of Blarney” is the art of elegant, flattering, persuasive speech that one supposedly acquires upon kissing the Blarney Stone, a legendary stone set in the very walls of Blarney Castle, in Ireland. We, the Crossroads group, have yet to see any supernatural persuasiveness pass our lips…. Though it would certainly come in handy on our travels. We started the morning early by stopping by the Blarney Castle before our walking for the day began. It was an impressive sight to behold, walking up to the imposing, grey castle resting on a frowning rock face from which the stones of the castle were hewn. The Blarney Stone, however, is a relic brought back from the crusades, reported to be the stone pillow of Jacob. The magical powers attributed to the stone developed after the stone arrived in Ireland. It’s quite an experience- laying on your back and bending backwards to hang off the top of an ancient castle to kiss a rock. I think it’s perhaps the only occasion Americans would fathom putting their lips to a completely unsanitary, doubtlessly spit-covered surface. It is, though, a life experience- one that I’ve always wanted to scratch of my bucket list. I don’t actually have a bucket list… but, you know.

Caitlin Christianson

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