How many times have you discovered that something magnificent was lying right under your very nose and you didn’t even see it? How often do you go about your daily business, looking to faraway lands and distant exotic places for excitement and illumination rather than seeing that which is truly beautiful right before you?! I had this experience recently, and here is my story…
For the umpteenth time, I made a most familiar trip to Dublin’s fair city for a family outing on the summer holidays. The day was pleasant and the city was bustling with both tourists and natives, an atmosphere that I have grown to love over the years. I remember as a child travelling to the city on the train for a day out with my parents, aunts and cousins, the thrill of an adventure to the “Big Smoke” as it is also known as, the treat of maybe going to the annual Dublin Horse Show or visiting the zoo or going shopping in Henry Street or Grafton Street. I have always found that there is something quite extraordinary about city life, it is a total contrast to my daily life in the country. It seems to exude confidence at every corner, hustle and bustle fills the air and there is always something happening no matter where you go… buskers along the street presenting their talents and offering entertainment to those who might take the time to stop for a while and enjoy the spectacle; people sitting chatting in outdoor cafes, watching the world go by; city bus tours passing by with eager tourists capturing a moment in time; business executives making their way to meetings on foot; young couples strolling hand in hand, gazing lovingly into each others eyes… life being lived in the flow of city life!
So what made this trip any different to the other times that I have visited “The Big Smoke”… well, instead of walking past the gates of Trinity College like we usually do, we decided to go in and visit The Book of Kells Exhibition, “Turning Darkness Into Light”. Now I have visited this exhibition many years ago but I wanted to show the kids part of their heritage and history. The Book of Kells is a lavishly decorated copy, in Latin, of the four gospels. It has long been associated with St Colum Cille (c 521 – 597 AD) who founded his principal monastery on the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland in about 561. The Book of Kells was produced by the monks of Iona who moved to Kells in Co. Meath, Ireland. This amazing exhibition displays two of the four volumes at a time, one with text and one with illustrations. The sheer magnificence of the beauty and dedication that was poured into hours and hours of intricate detailed work is absolutely astonishing, and the image of somebody possibly sitting in the rays of sunshine all those years ago receiving an inspired image in their mind and taking the steps to translate this image into reality by allowing it to flow onto the calfskin page in brilliant and vibrant colours is absolutely breathtaking!
From there, we proceeded to the Old Library, one of the world’s great research libraries, holding the largest collection of manuscripts and printed books in Ireland. There are 200,000 books in the Long Room alone and it is like a scene from a Harry Potter film, with floor to ceiling rows upon rows of books and a collection of marble busts line both sides of the room, representing such famous persons as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Again, there were many magnificent manuscripts on display from years gone by, filled with such precision and excellence, a visual feast! As I am a total lover of books, it was a wonderful experience to be surrounded by such masterpieces, I was in heaven! I found myself reflecting on the awesome focus and clarity that must have been present within all these amazing souls to have produced such a display of beauty, and how they now live on through their works of art to this very day!
So, what exists around you today that you are not even seeing? What beauty and magnificence is right before your very eyes and you are not even looking at it? It doesn’t have to be something like The Book of Kells, it can be the laughter of a child, the touch of a hand, the flower dancing in the wind saying hello, the song on the radio, the sun shining brightly, the phone call from a friend, the unconditional love of your pet… let’s not bypass all the splendor of life that lies right where we are!
So until next time,
Love from me, Marie XXX