16 April 2018
Easter hopes on the shore at
Ballybunion and Beale Beach
My Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter experiences in Thessaloniki prepared me to return to parish ministry with a new energy.
Over the past few days, the Easter Vestries for three of the four churches in the group of parishes have met in recent days, and the fourth meets this evening. Work parties have continued to attend to the rectory gardens, I have been to Adare to preach at the Mothers’ Union Lady Service, celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation at the Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, there were services and sermons in Askeaton and Tarbert yesterday, and there was a posting to finalise for the diocesan training programme for clergy and readers.
Later this morning, I am in the school in Rathkeale, and the coming week promises to be as busy as the past week.
But in between, two of us managed to take some quiet time on Sunday afternoon, and went for a walk on the beach in Ballybunion. The tide was just turning and about to come in, but the sand was a beautiful combi nation of sliver, yellow and gold, and the sun was making efforts to break through the grey clouds.
Only a week previously, we had been sitting at the sea wall at the harbour in Thessaloniki, waiting for friends to join us for dinner, as we watched the tide lapping gently against the sea wall as we looked across the bay towards the White Tower.
Being on the sand by the waves evoked some of those Resurrection stories in the Gospels in which the Risen Christ meets the Disciples on the shore after they have been fishing and shares a meal with them.
We had climbed back up to the ruins of Ballybunion Castle on the cliff top before the rain began to fall, and we adjourned to Daroka for a delightful lunch.
On the way back, we stopped at Beale Beach for another breath-taking walk by the sea at the mouth of the Shannon. By now the tide was in, the waves were breaking against the pebbles on the shoreline, and gushing again as they pulled against the stones as they rushed out.
Out in the estuary, three ships were making their way out to the Atlantic.
Easter is a time to set our eyes on new hopes, on new horizons, on the promise of new futures.