Sunday, December 02, 2012

O'Hara - more perspective on the Last of the Donkey Pilgrims

O'Hara's book really is one of my favorites.  It is a great introduction to the language, culture, politics and geography of Ireland.  Now having completed the book, I'm beginning to imagine the itinerary for Diane and me to visit - insh'allah in 2014.  We have both had a yearning to connect with our roots in much the same way O'Hara did.  I doubt we'll be walking with a donkey and cart but we are certainly going to do more than a superficial tourism experience.

There were several ideas that O'Hara dropped as pearls of wisdom in his text.  Without going into great detail, I offer a couple of thought provoking quotes and encourage you to ponder:
And God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. (p. 203)
What a great pity, I sighed, for kids to be brought up in a land stained with bloodshed, their minds sullied by senseless murder and occupying forces of men and metal.  How many simple joys are lost to mistrust?  How many dreams never realized?  How immeasurable their lifelong loss?  (p. 252)
Maybe, just maybe, the secret of life is to trust without provision or fore-thought.  Could trust be the simple truth that would make the world spin in harmony?  (p. 292)
In answering a question about why Kevin could live in Ireland:
The people, for starters.  It seems that every third person I meet could become a lifelong friend.  But mostly, I feel I'm a better person here, probably because I'm surrounded by so many good people.  There's a cultural undertow in America that can drown the best of one's intentions.  (p. 380)
And, nearing the end (and beginning) of his journey:
Here I am, twenty miles from Rattigan's, and despite all that might await me there, there's a part of me that wants this journey to linger on.  Once I step foot into the pub, I'm afraid my house of cards will topple and I'll be left to face my own familiar self again.  For eight months I've been blessed by this journey God has provided me.  But now I face the unenviable task of returning home, where I might forget the valuable lessons I've learned on these roads.  (p. 415)
And, relating a story of a boy's nightmare shared by a friend:
Weren't you the lucky lad to survive such an ordeal, and more lucky still, for from this day to your last, ye'll always have a story to tell.  (p. 422)
Kevin reunited with his wife, brother, friends and all the Irish kin who cheered him along his journey on Christmas Eve.  Missie was the real star that night as she was proudly ushered into Rattigan's for her first bucket of Guinness.  Kevin's journey took 25 years to bring to press but it surely gave him many stories to tell in the meantime.  I can only hope that my journey to Qatar has made me a better person, has brought me closer to humanity, and that I'll be blessed to have survived and "from this day to my last, have a story to tell..."

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