Travel – Photos – A Brief Look at My Wales

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I’ve been fortunate to have visited North Wales three times. The first was randomness, the second fortune, and the third with determination. All three were spiritual and while the first began a decades old journey, all three began, and explored different aspects of that journey. All three had friends and family supporting and helping to make it happen.

Read the brief captions about the three photos I’ve chosen to represent my three visits, all steeped in more meaning than can be written in such a brief blurb, but will be explored more fully, or if not fully, then thoroughly in future days.

This photo, while taken in 2017, represents my first visit in 1987. I hiked and hitchhiked from the train in Betws-y-Coed to this youth hostel, just about center of the Llanberis Pass, a stop for hikers and climbers alike. It was my first foray into Wales, and it grabbed me in a way that many other things haven’t come close. It linked me to a place i’ve never been as if I’ve been born there. It is my soul’s homeland, and I feel the hiraeth as clearly as any native-born Welsh-person. The youth hostel at Pen-y-Pass. (c)2017-2018

Dolwyddelan Castle from the road. Taken in 2009, and representing my 2009 visit, it was also the view my family saw in 2017 when we stayed barely a mile up the road, but in 2009, this was one of my important, planned destinations: the birthplace of Llywelyn Fawr, the Prince of Wales. The castle wasn’t here, but he was born in and around this plot of land in 1178, and eventually built a motte and bailey castle on the mound here. This keep replaced that in future years.Llywelyn, and a gift from a dear friend, brought me to this place to see the places that i’d been reading about; and feeling about. The castle resides on private land, a working farm. You pay the woman at the back door, and walk through the cow gate, climbing the steep dirt path until reaching the pavement, and more hills going up and up. I wasn’t in the physical condition to go all the way to the keep. I may have tried if not for the misty rain making the slate and stone steps slippery. It was not a risk I was willing to take alone. I was still content to have reached as far as I did, and to meet some folks. I walked around for a bit, listening to the nearby stream and small rapids crashing lightly against the rocks. I discovered a snarled tree that was the perfect place for a distant photo of the castle. Looking forward to my next visit. (c)2009-2018

I discovered St. Elen’s well on a blog and was thrilled that ot represented my confirmation saint. I discovered long after returning in 2009 that the town where I spent three days (Caernarfon) was her town, and Dolwyddelan, where I’d spent a couple of hours walking around was less than a mile up the road from the hotel named for her that I must have passed on the way to the castle car park. We stayed at that hotel on this more recent trip, and the well is on the hotel property. There was some dispute on the land the path is on, but there seems to be some sort of arrangement as I had no issues other than the daily rain made the steep path a little bit slippery, but not undoable. Slow going made me take the time to stop and, not smell the flowers, but observe the vegetation, the tree branches, the cows and church next door, listen to the birds all around me, and come upon the well slowly. I could hear the water flowing before I could see the well, and it could do with a weeding, but it was still glorious, and spellbinding, and I felt the spirituality of not only Wales, but of Elen while the smells of the variety of plants were captivating, and the holy water was cold to my touch, but tasted refreshing and revitalizing. I sat for some time in contemplation. My family was very cooperative of that. (c)2017-2018

Sundays in Easter – Pentecost

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​​​Readings

Acts 2:1-11
Ps 104
1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13
John 20:19-23

Reflection

“To each individual the manifestation of the spirit is given for some benefit.”

Just as Jesus showed himself to the apostles and sent them on their mission work as his Father sent him, we also have the holy spirit within us as a guiding hand, showing us which path is the one that is best for each of us.

Journal Prompt
Write about when you’ve felt the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Today is the day, Holy Spirit.
You come upon us and leave a breath on each of us.
Your give your spirit to be a part of us,
as a third to join with the Father and the Son.
A guiding hand
To support,
To encourage,
To console,
There when needed,
Received with gratitude.
Amen.

Sundays in Easter – 7th Sunday

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​​Readings

Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26
Ps 103
1 John 4:11-16
John 17:11b-19

Reflection

“He [G-d] has given us of his spirit…”
He is always with us even if we are unaware of it. As I write this, I am also planning an RCIA lesson for teaching the holy spirit, and in my heart it’s all there, but I can’t get the words onto the paper. I imagine that’s probably because the holy spirit isn’t an intellectual thing; it’s a faith thing. It’s ephemeral and other worldly. It’s in the heart, not the head. When we come to a crossroads, how do we choose? Is it the well-worn path or the not yet trodden, leaf-covered path? Left or right? Towards where the sun came from? Or where it’s going to set? We always choose, and what guides us is unmistakable and remarkable, and whether we’re aware or not, G-d remains in us, and we in Him.

Journal Prompt

What time do you remember making a decision that had the confidence of G-d guiding you or the holy spirit poking you in one direction or the other?

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit
Take my hand,
Lead me in the way I’m to go.

Come, Holy Spirit
Show me the way,
Lead me to the lighted path.

Come, Holy Spirit
Guide me with your love,
Lead me to the truth.

Come, Holy Spirit
I trust in you.
Amen.

Sundays in Easter – 6th Sunday

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Readings

Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Ps 98
1 John 4:7-10
John 15:9-17

Reflection

In the first reading today, the gift of the holy spirit poured out on the Gentiles. Peter ordered them to be baptized – cannot withhold water when they’ve received the holy spirit.

It’s not the water. It’s not the holy spirit. It’s not the cross. It’s all of those individual things becoming the greater thing, not only to guide us, but to always be within us.

When I was brought fully into the church four years ago I found out that the Easter Vigil is the only time the parish priests confer confirmation on the candidates. It is the only time that the bishop is allowed to be substituted. It is also the one time when the traditional sacraments are given in their order – baptism, confirmation, communion – rather than receiving the first communion between baptism and confirmation. There is something about being a part of such a longstanding tradition. When I participated and observed the Jewish rituals, I was always in awe of being a part of G-d’s chosen, descended from Abraham, observing things that had been observed since the beginning.

I feel that same way about my journey through Catholicism. In my studies, I’ve discovered that the mass hasn’t changed much since those first centuries.

The profoundness sometimes weighs on me, but the joy of it all lightens me.

Journal Prompt

This I command: love one another

Prayer

Accept the Father’s love,
Offer your love as he does.
Accept His saving power, and
Offer gratitude for it.
Follow his commands,
Absolve your sins,
Close your eyes, and breathe it in.
Exhale it out with thanks, and
Amen

Sundays in Easter – 5th Sunday

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Readings

Acts 9:26-31
Ps 22
1 John 3:18-24
John 15:1-8

Reflection

It reminds me of James 3:26: Faith without works is dead. It’s not the faith that’s important; it’s what having faith leads you to do. From giving money to giving time, our works and their reception increases our faith which increases our good works. Similarly, when we love both truthfully and through our deeds, we, and they, come alive.

Journal Prompt

“Let us love in deed and truth.”

Prayer

Remind me, O Lord that faith and love are paramount, equally deed and works will lead us to fulfillment and a deeper faith and abiding love. Amen.

Sundays in Easter – 4th Sunday

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Readings

Acts 4:8-12
Ps 118
1 John 3:1-2
John 10:11-18

Reflection

The cornerstone is the foundation, but it’s more than that. It’s the beginning, the first step, the mark of remembrance; the placeholder for all that is to follow.

When seeing the cornerstone, we see where that space all began. Sometimes there’s an engraving, a year of commencement or sometimes completion. A symbol highlighting the buildign’s significance – a cross, an open book. Letters: an engraver’s initials, an artist’s signature, a person’s legacy.

We trace the marks with our fingertips; we photograph all sides with a camera or even our mind’s eye. We do a pencil rubbing on vellum, but there are still realizations hidden deep away.

We begin with the cornerstone and find our own way from there.

Journal Prompt

The cornerstone

Prayer

Jesus,
Show us the full meaning of the cornerstone,
Bring us there for the beginning,
And walk with us as we end there
At the end of our circle.
We pray to you, and thank you for being by our side.
Amen.