I was told Ireland was going to be damp like a doormat at the foot of Europe’s entrance. While I’ll probably be cursed by those Mitchells whose rain jackets were their wardrobe, I have had more sun than not. Alas, I’ve now probably doomed myself and afflicted Ireland to a version of Groundhog’s Day. Like Bill Murray at the end of that classic, I’m conscious of how precious this time is, how fortunate I am to have it, to be a part of this experience, and driven by a desire to make my Mitchell experience meaningful. Because I still don’t know if I deserve this. I do, however, have the ability to make the most of it. That’s what I’ve tried to do thus far, to make meaning on Europe’s welcoming, wonderful, and whimsical doormat (big fan of alliteration).
In an attempt to earn this experience, I continuously remind myself to be more interested than interesting, which, no surprise, isn’t that hard given my intellect and obvious love for self-deprecation. My commitment led me away from my essays (don’t worry, they’ll get done) and onto a walking tour of three famous Dublin cathedrals—St. Mary’s, St. Pat’s, and Christ Church. The tour also led us down into the Cathedrals’ crypts, but that is a story for another time.
The glittering indistinguishable objects below come from St. Pats. The objects are actually leaves of “Lives Remembered” representing some 36,000 Irish soldiers that died in WW1.
The second picture is of the leaf I filled out for my best friend who passed away while I was in college. St. Pat volunteers chose 36,000 leaves like mine; they met twice a week between July and November threading the messages into 8.5m lengths of fishing line – creating 819 strands in total that stretch some 6.5 km.
Standing below the gentle sway of such a grand, anonymous feat reminded me of why service stands so close to my heart. The indistinguishability of a single strand doesn’t detract from that strand’s value; on the contrary, the individual gives itself over to the whole and in doing so becomes so much more than it could ever be on its own.
The meaning is always there, it’s just up to me to recognize it.
Oh, and look out for the Mitchell Scholar Album! See our album cover below.