Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Giant's Causeway

When Mary and I finished at Mussenden Temple,
we grabbed the guys, had some lunch and then
headed to see Giant's Causeway!

I was so glad to go there. This is a stop that's been on my must-see list.
It's one of the coolest things I've done in Ireland so far. I'll remember it
always as a place that inspired and moved me by it's beauty and the
sheer fact that something so intricate and incredible was formed by
nature. I've never seen anything like it. Everyone has told us to make
sure we get there while we're still in Ireland, and now I know why.
It was amazing!!

It was a one mile downhill walk to the causeway.

Volcanic rock lined the side of the cliffs that lead the way.

The weather outside was frightful that day!
Cold, windy, rainy, and gray.

But it was all worth it to see this...

Giant's Causeway is an area where land meets ocean.
The land you see here is volcanic rock that is over 60
million years old. The rapidly cooling lava contracted
and variations in the cooling rate resulted in these
repeating hexagonal shapes. (While mainly hexagonal,
there are some with up to eight sides.)

Credit for their discovery goes to the Bishop of
Derry, the man who commissioned and lived at
Downhill Palace and the Mussenden Temple.
Small world, huh?

He apparently visited there and brought word of its
existence to people in Dublin and London. Two years
later, Sir Richard Bukeley of Trinity College wrote a
paper outlining the discovery which sparked debate
on how it came to be so.

Theories of it's formation ranged from men
building it with tools, to a natural occurrence,
to a legend about a giant named Finn MacCool.

While the Bishop did bring knowledge of Giant's
Causeway to a wider world, it would have been
seen much before -- 10,000 years before -- by
the hunters and gatherers who settled in the
area after the last ice age. This area, called
Whitepark Bay, is where man first settled in
Ireland. It's thought they were the ones who
originated the story about the MacCool.

His legend goes like this...
There lived a gentle giant in Ireland called Finn MacCool.
At fifty two feet six inches, he was a relatively small giant.
Across the sea in Scotland was a rival giant named
Benandonner. The two Giants hollered over the waters,
each demanding a trial of strength. This was agreed upon,
but since Benandonner couldn't swim, Finn built a rocky
causeway between the two countries so Benandonner could
walk to Ireland.

Finn was wrought with exhaustion after spending a week
on the causeway, and he knew he needed to rest before
competing with his Scottish neighbor. He laid down to take
a quick nap but no sooner then he fell asleep, Finn's wife
heard the thunderous footsteps of Benandonner
approaching. She looked out the window and saw he
was truly gigantic. She knew her Finn would be no match
for this giant.

So, she threw a bonnet and blanket over Finn just
before Benandonner came to the door. She told him
Finn was out and asked him to keep his voice down
so as to not wake the baby. She offered him a seat at
their table where she fed him tea and bread. She put
rocks in the bread, and her trick worked because when
Benandonner took a bite, he broke a tooth. He thought
this Finn MacCool must be quite tough if he took his
bread with rocks in it. Not to be outdone, he kept eating
and broke two more teeth. He learned over and looked
at the sleeping baby. Benedonner panicked when he
realized the size of the child. If the baby is this big,
how much bigger might Finn be? He did not stay
to find out. He hastily retreated across the causeway,
destroying it in his wake.

Rembrandt said, "Choose only one master - Nature."
I don't exactly know all his philosophies, but I know I
feel very in tune with those words.

The time we spent here, brief as it was, was really
powerful for me. I don't go to church, pray, read the
bible, or spend any time thinking about god or an
afterlife. I'm certainly not religious in anyway. But
I am completely inspired by a passionate nature.

When I feel the power of the expansive ocean pulling
at my feet as the water is sucked back out to sea, or I
sense a strong wind in my face, it helps me remember
that I'm just a speck on this amazing earth in a complex
universe where both it and I have great potential.
Looking up at the mountains or at a marvel of nature
like Giant's Causeway inspires a feeling in me that
there is greatness to experience in our short lives.
That greatness can take on so many forms from helping
others, to following a dream, to falling in love. It can
even mean finding moments of peace, beauty and
happiness. Learning. Thinking. Feeling. Earning.
Growing. Laughing.

While I don't know for sure how I got here or why
I'm here, I'm completely alright with not having that
answer because I don't think I'm supposed to know.
It's far too complex for my mind to package up neatly.
Besides, it's more fun to wonder. I just want to
remember that I'm here, on a planet that's totally
diverse and beautiful, surrounded by people that are
just as diverse and beautiful and be fully in tune with
that awareness. I was completely in touch with that
feeling while I was standing on the rocks at Giant's
Causeway. Knowing that David was standing next to
me at that very second made it all the better.

Walking back up, we had to lean into the wind.
Holy smokes, was it blowing!
Such a cool stop and an awesome memory.

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