The three days we spent in Glendalough were enjoyable for everyone. Most of us were able to pass a few hours wandering in the hills – through the ancient hermitage of St. Kevin and along the two lakes – or in peaceful, prayerful solitude. A number of the tertians spent a sunny afternoon on the first day walking the ancient, rugged paths… Speaking with great enthusiasm about many things related to the sacred and the mundane.
On the second day, the weather turned darker and heavy clouds lingered over the hills. It reminded some of us, in a very tangible way, of the clouds that came down upon Jesus and his friends on the day of his transfiguration. The mist and the fog obscured for us what was holy and beautiful in the region, lifting only infrequently to reveal a glimpse of what we knew was there all along.
But – of course – like those on the mountain, we too needed to return to the ordinary life in the tertianship house. Upon returning, we quickly fell into our routine… house jobs, ministry, reading, and study. There really is a dichotomy of experience here – so many things to do that it all initially seems difficult to complete, yet such an enormous amount of time that it simultaneously feels impossible to fill all the hours.
Last night at dinner, we encountered – yet again – one of our many culture shocks. Petr (from Prague) had just taken his first bite of a hamburger – part of the evening’s meal – and another tertian asked him how it tasted. Pausing for just a moment, Petr replied: “I have nothing to compare this to… This is my first hamburger.” Naturally, those of us who were raised in Western Europe or in North America (especially) were shocked, since the majority have eaten more hamburgers than we could ever possibly count.
It was an interesting thought to think that – in the age of McDonald’s – there are some who have still never tasted such an international culinary staple. We all look forward to learning about what we ourselves might experience as a new taste in the coming months.