Visio Divina for December – Ireland Final Reflections

STORM TOSSED ON GALWAY HARBOUR - 2016 [terry-alexander-galway-ireland-2016-15.dng]
Visio Divina is seeing an image with the soul, not just the eyes; requiring a deeper feel for the subject.  What is it that drew me to this poor wreck on Galway Harbour? Arguably the colors are wonderful; especially with the beautiful buildings across the water. The deep ocean blue of the boat contrasting with the earth, bay, rocks and grass offers a visual treat for the eyes.  Yes the colors initially drew me to the boat, but with all of the wonderful sights we experienced over our 10 days in Galway the visual impact was comparable to many other images.

As I study the scene further more details emerge.  I love the striations in the rocks that give clues to the weathering and age of the earth.  The unraveling rope holding the boat in place from the aft tells a story; showing the strain of daily winds and storms – did the boat yearn to return to the sea requiring fresh rope to tether the bow?  The reflections in the water, shadows in the clouds, and swans on the bay add movement and life to the scene.  These are all strong visual elements, but it is the story the boat represents that makes it compelling to me.

Photographers attempt to use an image to tell a story, but I believe the subject itself can trigger stories of the imagination.  The rugged feeling of the damaged boat that has weathered many storms draws us to open our imaginations to the history it has seen. What traumatic event brought this vessel to this place?  Did its seafaring crew return home safely? Did the wind and waves smash the boat on the rocks along the shore? Or was it perhaps some mysterious sea creature that wrecked havoc on the boat and crew?  The tales we spin are only limited by the depth of our imagination.  Whether real or fiction, it does not matter because in the end it is the story itself and the enjoyment it brings that are true. I invite you to enjoy the photograph and let your imagination carry you on an adventure of your making.

Our short stay in Ireland was also a journey of the imagination; what would life in Galway be like?  It was a time to move slowly, enjoy the rich and ancient history, be welcomed by the people and gentle culture. That was our takeaway story from this pilgrimage.  Through our kind hosts Christine, John, Cormac and Grainne, we explored the ancient monastic traditions of hospitality, kinship with nature, community, silence and solitude, sabbath, work and service, conversion, and creative joy.


In ancient Celtic traditions thresholds are extremely important; each doorway opening onto new experiences, adventures, and directions in life. During our time in Ireland we encountered thresholds at every turn and each opened onto something new, and somehow both familiar and comforting.

These monastic and Celtic traditions would serve us all in today’s world.  The challenge before us is to remember that feeling as we become embroiled in the turmoil that America now faces. I am confident we will be returning to Ireland and hope that it remains open and inviting to all pilgrims.

As this is my final post on our Irish pilgrimage, I want to let you know my web gallery on Ireland 2016 is now complete. Enjoy and let me know any thoughts you might have.  I want to close with an old Irish blessing:

May your days be many and your troubles be few. May all God’s blessings descend upon you. May peace be within you may your heart be strong. May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.

Peace – Terry Alexander

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