I checked the sea temperature today. Not much more than 13/14 degrees centigrade anywhere in Ireland. This year the cold sea water was harder to bear.
By the time we arrive in Kerry our friends are already a couple of weeks into the rhythm of twice daily swims. They glow from endorphins, icy water and warm wine. Dingle is their annual pilgrimage, and a sanctuary away from everything.
As a brief respite from the awful summer, the sun appears. It calms the icy water and the waves in Coumenoule are a bit less terrifying. I tingle all over from a fair few dunkings and summer holiday happiness.
On the way back I listen to John O’Donohue talking to Krista Tippett in a re-released interview from 2007. While I always found John hard to read, his lilting voice confirms so much tonight……
“Well, I think it makes a huge difference when you wake in the morning and come out of your house. Whether you believe you are walking into dead geographical location, which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you but in a totally different form. And if you go towards it with an open heart and a real watchful reverence, that you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you. And I think that that was one of the recognitions of the Celtic imagination: that landscape wasn’t just matter, but that it was actually alive. What amazes me about landscape, landscape recalls you into a mindful mode of stillness, solitude, and silence where you can truly receive time.”