If only there were just two.

After arriving severely jetlagged, we have had some sensory-filled days of harrowing drives, unimaginable vistas, and a (literally) warm welcome while exploring Ireland.  We have visited museums, cathedrals, pubs, and some of the most beautiful country churches.  We have met scores of people and every single one of them has been at least pleasant if not downright lovely.  One interaction particularly stands out to me, it took place at St. George’s Parish Church in the heart of Belfast.  There we met Billy, a life-long parishioner and knower-of-all-things.  Billy toured us through the Nave, sat us down for tea, and, among the Irish-American history lesson, began talking about the Israel-Palestine conflict and its effect on Catholic-Protestant relations.  I commented that double layers must have escalated tensions tremendously.  His response was, “Double? If only there were just two!”  In that moment, I realized that I had been trying to reduce the history of Ireland and her people into an easily-digestible summary.  I had been looking for a simple way to explain hundreds of years of relationships in a paragraph or two.  Billy taught me several lessons that day, but the most important was this: things are never as simple as we want them to be, and we must honor the complexity of human relationship.  That reality is tough and beautiful and agonizing and entirely inhabited by the Holy Spirit, just like this dazzling island.

MM

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