Well, its hard to believe it, but our Ireland trip is drawing to a close. Jason and I are at our lodging for the night in Blackrock, a suburb of Dublin…its around 11:30pm and call time in the morning is 6am!
Im not sure where to begin! We had a pretty early call this morning, as Mike Mullins drove us down from Buncrana to Derry in order to catch the bus to Dublin. I didnt realize it, but Derry is right across the border in Northern Ireland and was the sight of the Bloody Sunday massacre. Most of us think of this as just a U2 song, but Mike took us through town to the actual site where the Catholic protesters were marching. History tells us that a shot rang out, and then the British troops opened fire on the marchers. Derry reminded me of Belfast, with slogans and murals decorating the various buildings. Even the curbs are marked with colors denoting the different neighborhoods (and factions). While the peace is thankfully still in effect (even with the recent assassination of a former British agent in the IRA), there are reminders everywhere of the Troubles that have plagued this country for so long. Both Mike Mullins and my friend up in Belfast, Fr. Martin Curley agree that the only thing that will ever bring peace to this island is the love of Jesus Christ.
Let me tell you about our final gig here. We played in the Irish Cultural Center (I cannot even begin to spell the Irish name for it!); this is a beautiful building in a grand old neighborhood, and this facility is a treasure trove of Irish music. If you want to learn about the history of this incredible music (and learn how to play it), then this is the place! And boy…I got a crash course, too! At the end of the night, our host, Cormac Shaw and a friend (also named Cormac) invited me to play along with them on a couple of traditional Irish melodies (these guys play the fiddle and the flute). I got thrown to the wolves! The two Cormacs are great players and I was struggling to keep up…I had never heard these jigs before, but it was a blast to play. What an incredible honor!
Tonight was another of our songwriting seminars. After playing a few opening songs, we launched into our session, with some great interaction with the participants. We played a few more of our tunes and then we turned the evening into an open mic night. There is a friend of Laura Robinson (Durand’s 17 year old daughter who is on the tour with us)…a girl named Lisa who played and sang one of her songs…wow! This place is teeming with incredible talent.
We took a quick break to talk to the folks in the crowd, who were so very gracious to us. When we came back, we played a few more tunes, and ended (as always) with Amazing Grace. I had the opportunity to introduce the song, where I shared with the crowd (a mix of believers and non-believers alike) how the grace of this hymn/folk song has been so very real and important in my own life. It was a small seed we planted, but a seed nonetheless that our contacts here will cultivate.
And that is pretty much our mission; to use our music to help the local church reach into their communities and cultivate friendships with seekers. And while this was really a scouting trip for a future tour with the whole band, it was far more successful in that ministries in Newbridge, Buncrana, and Dublin were able to meet new friends and to minister to people who would never come to just another church service.
Jason is fast asleep as I type this, and Im trying not to weep aloud as I think about the people just this week weve met and ministered to; Sinead at the restaurant in Newbridge, and the wedding party at the pub…Seamus and Mary at the Drift Inn at Buncrana…some lads who chatted with us on the street in Buncrana after our first pub date up north (I gave them a CD)…and the many faces of the people I talked to tonight. The names are running together, but God knows each and every one of them and I pray that our friends here will be able to be Christ to them in the days and months ahead.
I just cant believe that God would use me and this music in such a way, but I am so thankful He has. Thank you for making this trip possible and especially for all your prayers. You are all special people in my life and Im glad to be in this journey with you.
Ok…to bed and then to the airport! Until our next trip, keep praying!
God bless you all…