Twenty years ago I lived in Dublin, Ireland. I moved there to plant a church. I don’t think I did very well at church planting, but God did some amazing things in my life during my time on the Emerald Isle.

One of my favorite things to do was to travel from Dublin (where I lived) to the Aran Islands for the weekend. I would catch a downtown train very early in the morning and begin my three hour ride across the country. I would always take a good book. On one occasion I remember reading “Gone With The Wind.” En route I would enjoy a good Irish fry (breakfast) in the dining car–Eggs, rashers, sausages, baked tomato, mushrooms and slices of soda bread–all, of course, accompanied by a pot of tea. As we traveled the Irish countryside it was just as you would imagine . . . they say you can view forty shades of green. There was typically some rain, thatched cottages and on a really good trip, a rainbow or two. In the purest sense of the word, it was one of the most “romantic” experiences of my life.

I would arrive around ten in the morning in Galway. A quick pub lunch and a visit to a bookstore or two and it would be time for me to catch my flight to the Aran Islands. When I say “catch my flight,” I don’t mean “board a jet.” I would go to the local runway where I would board a four seat plane to take the 20 minute flight over Galway Bay. Landing in the cow field was always an adventure!

Once on the island, there were no motorcars and most of the residents (few that there were) spoke the Irish language. I would be taken to my bed and breakfast by horse and carriage. For two days I would walk the rocky knolls, stroll the beach, read, and all the while spend time with God. In the evening I would walk to the local Irish pub for dinner which ironically was called, “The American Bar.” After dinner there was always live folk music and great “crack” (Irish for “fun,” not the drug).

Monday morning I would train back to Dublin having paid $80 for the entire experience!

Living here in the States now, I think those trips to the Aran Islands are one of the things I continue to long for. Time alone. Extended time with God. The desolate beauty of Inishmore.