I challenge you to keep up with the impressive array of activity of the Teach this week. I can’t even seem to see how we managed to fit it all into a normal week. We kicked off the week with a lovely set of visitors, friends of Nicole’s friends who studied with her in Tully Cross, who joined us for our festivities and ministries both.
We spent a good long while at Father Denis’ home where we each loaded up on his delectable cooking and each also consumed at least three desserts. We shared silly stories and I shared my favorite pastime of using his ceramic candle-holder hand as my own hand. Since the coloring is ghastly grey and rock-cold, people usually have a double take before realizing that I have not, in fact, turned to stone.
We were also graciously invited to the Fogarty household for a bit of tea (which, in Ireland, means heaping portions of lasagna, multiple salads and sides, and two or three pieces of apple tart with streams of cream) and we saw the good ol’ Irish hospitality at work again in such a welcoming family. Excluding us four, six others just dropped in at their house throughout the course of the evening, so we all shared some wonderful conversations and watched little Charlie try to sit on his baby brother’s head. They have a great number of horses as well, so we popped down to the stables to dole out servings of delicious hay (I’ll take the apple tart, thanks), to see the newborn creatures who had also recently “dropped in” to the Fogarty’s (on a more permanent basis than the other evening visitors), and to braid a horses hair in preparation for the weekend’s races (which felt like 2nd grade again…but with real horses instead of My Little Pony plastic replicas.)
I experienced the beautiful culture of hospitality firsthand on Tuesday when, as I was cycling merrily by, a member of the Passion play – Dominic – waved me down and invited me in for a cuppa and a chat-a. We talked for a long while about the church in Ireland, and the necessary involvement of young people, and the differences between Irish and American culture. I biked away with much to ponder and am ever grateful for constantly feeling welcomed so openly into the lives and homes of the Wexfordians. (Wexfordites? Wexfolk?) If it keeps up at this rate, I don’t foresee ever having to purchase another package of biscuits or box of tea again. And to top it off, I ran into yet another Passion play member who, even though I later found out he was ten minutes late to his voice lesson, stopped to talk to me. That’s a value which I really hope to talk with me when I – (I’m going to turn my eyes away when I write this) – must depart from beloved Wexford. My feet are so accustomed to continuing their quickened pace in the daily humdrum, even when passing a friend with a casual “Hey, how are ya?” tossed backwards over my shoulder that they’ve needed to be re-trained this year to stop in their tracks and to let their owner pause for a chat. The Irish have taught me that there is always time for a hello to a friend. And not just the two-syllable hammered out version that I’ve come to know so well. No, the Irish “hello” is a hello with a built-in space for a conversation.
Additionally, this week included two Confirmation retreats, the final sessions of the YSBMW Confirmation programme for both schools, a visit from the members of the Vigil Choir and Youth Choir at the Teach on Thursday, a clash mash (that’s class mass to those who may not speak like Sean Connery as frequently as me), and a big ol’ gathering of friends from the Passion Play at Jesus’ home on Friday. I find it rather humorous that usually Jesus was the one going to everyone else’s home in the Bible, yet we’re all crowding in on him this time. (Mind you, “Jesus” in this case is actually a secondary school-aged lad from the Czech Republic and not actually Jesus Christ.) We were also at their home a little while back for some homemade sushi. Now, I am from Connecticut, but I somehow never got the gene that allows me to tolerate large quantities of the slippery stuff.
Nick and I helped run the closing sessions for the Confirmation program on Wednesday evening, which included prayer with all the families and the 6th class students from each school. The first hour had Father Martin announcing the names on certificates and sparing Nick and me the embarrassment of attempting to pronounce Irish names. However, we were not so lucky to escape the task during the 2nd hour and Nick and I were left to our own devices to announce the Scoil Mhuire students’ names. The hour went something like this: I had thought Nick knew the names confidently enough to spout them off without a hitch. He had thought I was more comfortable with pronunciation and was helping him from the side. The result was me whispering pronunciations to Nick as I handed him the certificates, Nick speaking it into the microphone, and then bursts of laughter erupting from the otherwise solemn congregation. When I thought he realized that I didn’t know any better than him, I began giving (what I thought were) extreme mispronunciations just to make him laugh. I’d thought it was pretty obvious, but apparently it wasn’t quite so obvious. For example, if the name were something easy-to-say like “Rachel O’Brien”, I would whisper, “Rakeeelay Ooobreeyan” and he would open his mouth before realizing that it wasn’t at all accurate. Sorry Nick. Ah well, the previous sessions had been rich in activity and laughter, so I’m sure the students had just needed something to giggle about, right Nick? I’ll blame our noticeable American accents for that one.
Finally, we are preparing our minds, bodies, and spirits for the invasion of the Puscas and Storey clans this weekend. I can’t speak for Nicole, but if I know my family, you should be able to hear their arrival in Ireland from…just about anywhere in the USA. This is how I foresee the discovery of a new country going, all stereotypes included.
Mom: WOW! Are those ALL sheep?
Em: (inwardly sighing and looking down at some book I’m pretending to read because I’m embarrassed) Yes, mom, and could we maybe take it down two or seven decibels?
Dad: I don’t think this bus driver knows how to drive.
Em: They drive on the left side of the road here, remember?
Blair: Do they put Guinness on their cereal?
Em: You’re thinking of frat boys, Blair.
Em: Where’s Julia?
(All turn and listen as she sits herself down behind an Irish person and attempts to imitate their Irish accent…to her amusement and my horror.)
Many blessings on your weekend and, if you think of it, send us over some of those classic 80 degree sunny May days.