Day 7: Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick – my Experience (excerpt)
Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick (also known as the Reek), mountain on the West of Ireland, is one of the most common devotions associated with St. Patrick.
I went there seven years ago in July. The walk was pleasant at first. Though it rained and was muddy it was somehow uplifting for the spirit. I knew St. Patrick spent forty days and nights on the Reek in deep prayer and fasting. The story says he fought devil, as people at the time would go up to worship a pagan god. Now, centuries after Patrick cleared the way, we were going up to worship Christ whom Patrick and many saints after him proclaimed. Thinking of the intention of my climb, I chose my walk to be a prayer along those lines, for this land to know Christ (again). One would think that intention as big as this would provide enough motivation to press on through the heavier parts of the journey, but I must say that this notion was severely challenged as we progressed on.
While we were walking, the rain and the wind increased and the journey became rougher. My spirit was, however, still on the high as I walked in silence and observed the beauty of surrounding mountains and the coast that spread so beautifully behind our back. But then I looked up. The last bit of the mountain leading to the top seemed so steep, almost vertical. As I climbed higher my humour and enthusiasm started to struggle with bad attitude and exhaustion. The higher I went the less I understood the purpose for doing this walk. It made no sense that people climb it time and time again in such great numbers when it honestly seemed quite crazy to climb that last bit, and even dangerous with wind and rain and only slippery stones below your feet. And it was really steep! On occasional moments my humour would come back and I could see stones as companions and friends, I could see that God was in every moment, His presence was not dimmed with the harsh conditions. But then it would all be gone from my sight and I was left with my bad attitude and struggled to go on. It dawned on me that the journey of faith, especially holiness, is as crazy in the eyes of the world as this climb was. All one can do is to keep the eyes on the goal, on the purpose of the journey, and when it gets tough resolve to always do this one more step and slowly keep on.
Today we pray for strength and perseverance on our journey of life and faith.
A thought for the day (from St. Patrick’s Breastplate): “Christ on every tongue speaking of me”.
© Iva Beranek (Dublin, March 2012)
Photo by © Iva Beranek