It’s a rare thing when a 2,000-foot precipice catches you by surprise. A rare, beautiful thing.
A recent trip to Ireland offered the opportunity to contemplate just such a gift in person. On some level, I “knew” we were going to Slieve League…but my companions had done virtually all the itinerary planning for our trek, so I was essentially in the dark about what “Slieve League” is.
Not a “league” at all, it turns out – but a “grey mountain” (or sliabh liag in Gaelic) that plunges a preposterously gorgeous 601 meters into the Atlantic Ocean along the coast of County Donegal.
Thing is, as I rounded the bend on the path up from the car park, I realized that I had seen this place before. Or more precisely, I’d seen photos of this place. But I guess I’d found it hard to believe that the images hadn’t been doctored up somehow, or maybe even computer-generated.
What a blessing, then, to experience such a wonder—a masterstroke painted by a God who seems to delight in taking our breath away.
A few days later, we had the opportunity to take in the much-more celebrated (and quite striking) Cliffs of Moher.
I was struck by the contrast between the two places. Throngs flocked to the Cliffs and its fully-appointed Visitors Centre—many of the tourists deposited by motor coach. So it was hard not to feel “busy” during our time there…to avoid being caught up in the crowd.
On the whole, it was not unlike the scene we encountered in the gospel this past Sunday. Two sisters, Martha and Mary, both engaged in worthwhile activity. Martha, busy with the work of hospitality. Mary, choosing to go deeper in her quiet time with Jesus.
Having seen Slieve League, I think I understand Mary’s choice in a different light than before. After all, we all need the chance now and then — to savor the gift of a moment almost too beautiful to be believed.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.