Updated: Oct 24, 2022
As We drove from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland from Galway on the west, we noticed a point of interest on the map. If we detoured just an hour or so to the north, we could make our way to the northernmost edge of Ireland. We could stand at the edge of things!
Upon arrival, we discovered the terrain was rugged and wind-swept. In the place where the land met the north Atlantic Ocean, someone had erected a simple altar whose backdrop was the vast sea beyond. The primitive cross stood resolute amid the stone altar. The presence of the Lord was clearly there.
I stood in humble awe at the brink of the created world which lay before me. It left me almost breathless, desiring to whisper in the sacred space at the edge of things. I knelt in humility, and thanked God for the opportunity to be in this place; for the gift of travel.
Upon reflection, I realized that only the most hearty of people choose life in this remote and stunning land of Ireland. When I am on the edge of things, like I was here, I find I am more contemplative. This time for reflection comes naturally, and I seek not to fill the space with anything but the current moment and space.
I’ve been on the edge of things a lot in these past five years. On the edge of my single, widowed life. On the edge of friendships that once were with other couples, gathering together as my late husband and I socialized with them. On the edge of my vocation, leaving the local church ministry for chaplaincy at the hospital. On the edge of society when the pandemic was at its worst. On the edge of new friendships and relationships. On the edge emotionally and mentally when loneliness was at its worst.
Growth happens on the edge of things when I am able to really reflect on what brings me to these places. Yet growth comes with a cost.
It is often times so very lonely doing life on the edge of things. When my grief reels is nasty head, it's difficult to fully engage when I don’t know where I fit in. It puts me on the edge to wonder what the future has in store for me, who will share that future with me.
In these moments, I turn to God in prayer. No flowery words are spoken, just casual conversation with the Friend who is always near, pouring out the deep things within my soul.
I ask for clarity in my relationships. I seek ways to have grace and offer forgiveness to those whom I feel have wronged me. I try not to take things too personally.
It is seldom easy, though. It takes intentionality. Reaching out from the tunnels of darkness that threaten to close in on me requires effort, and I know I cannot do it alone.
God regularly “pulls me from the muddy pit and sets me on solid soil.” (see Psalm 40) When this happens to me, “God puts a new song in my mouth.” This new song propels me forward in relationships and activities.