We quietly walked into the store, could be we made up half its occupants. We browsed the CDs, recognizing none of the artists, and then we headed to the back where a greying man with a scruff that begged scratchy grandpa kisses recommended we pick up David Grey's White Ladder album if we were wanting something distinct and upandcoming and native to this land.
It was just barely 2000, fog rolling over the grey dates of March, and we were in Ireland.
So HighSchoolFriend and I purchased the CD, boarded the tour bus that held the rest of our chorus group, that held too many freshmen boys who cared nothing of this emerald country, her history and sounds, her people nervous about transitioning to the Euro, her smog-filled streets of Dublin,
We finished our sight seeing that day, exchanged full rolls of film for fresh ones, hoping for pictures in focus, pictures that captured Tim singing Oh Danny Boy with 90 year old native on the side of the road, pictures of sheep spray-painted fluorescent colors demarcating ownership, pictures of the brown lamb scooped up in my arms, coastal cliffs in blurry background, and we then piled into our modern hotel that promised the next century would be oh-so-cool.
And the reason we bought a CD that day was to use the trendy CD player installed in our hotel room.
The rest of the stay, those next four days, David Grey sang to us, morning and night, while rising and makeuping, while choosing whattowear, and then while peeling the day's adventure away for a night's rest.
Ireland now had her soundtrack, a musical accoutrement to her sights and impressions, to her faces and foods, to the adventures she'd lend me. And beyond those literal moments, these songs created memory space around the girl I was, the woman I was becoming.
The soul searches for continuity, for something that can tie the stories of a bright-eyed seventeen year old to the stories of a (happily) tired mother of two.
And I see some constants, some, against the glaring changes of eleven years. The heart is more weathered, pangs of disillusionment have replaced naivete. The heart is more full, loneliness and longing replaced by the friendship and love of one breathtaking man. And the heart is the same, still breaking away from common paths to discover hidden ones, still getting lost along the way, still craving silence and nature and horse rides over shopping, early morning runs to castles over sleeping in.
But the most constant thing between my present and my Ireland is not David Grey, is not my stories, is not the aspects of my personality unchanged.
The tie between then and now is Jesus.
He was there with me on that tallest mountain, fog rolled in, whispering through wisps of hair the glory of risk as we scaled the cliff, trail long lost. He was as oxygen as we traveled through humble villages, infusing me with an excitement to breathe it all in, with an invitation to revel in the majesty of rolling hills, of freckled faces, of the diversity of creation. He was with me when I shared my story with my hotel roommate, making for a total of five who knew then, inviting me to ministry, to love, to scrape away false strength in exchange for vulnerability, even when healing's not complete, and only just begun.
And Jesus, the same Jesus who met me on the mountain, who met me in the streets and in the pub, whose presence held me tight even on that hormone-filled, obnoxiously immature tour bus, is the Jesus of Here and Now.
The adventure is not as sensational, no one begs to see the scrapbook of a stay-at-home-mom whose days are filled with cooking and playing and reading and nursing, but the risk, the love of life, and the ministry are all open invitations still standing, still calling me to answer.
It's different now, it sure is different.
But He's not.
God of Ireland, God of now, you are my constant,
you are the continuity of my story.
You are Jesus, the same yesterday, today and forever.