“It's really friggin' cold,” I said to myself.
I had been standing outside at Moll's Gap for some time, hoping for a response to my outward-stuck thumb. Just then, a car with a couple in it pulled up. They slowed down. Hope rose within me. Then came the apologetic look on the young, bearded man's face. It said, “Sorry, we're just pulling into the parking area.”
I remained standing as the couple walked past me and into the shop and cafe. We exchanged smiles. My backpack got heavier.
I stood for a few minutes more, with no takers. The cafe stood there, too. All nice, with its inside having no howling Irish wind whatsoever. The debate for a hitcher in this situation is always this: Do I go inside and warm up? It's so nice in there. But what if while I'm in there, the car of my dreams comes along, and I miss the all-important ride?
It wasn't much of a debate. I was very cold. Besides, what if I met my ride inside?
I walked up the steps and in through the glass doors. Oh my. It was so very inside in there. No wind. No cold. Only dresses and sweaters and trinkets to buy, and toilets to go pee in, and a cafe upstairs. I lugged my backpack and book bag upstairs, and stood at the counter.
Pies. Scones. Chocolate. Tasty things. All under glass, looking lovely. But what I really wanted was a nice, warm drink.
The cashier and I small-talked, while the couple that had apologetically passed me by sat with their goodies.
“I'm trying to get to Kenmare,” I said as I looked over the pies, “but no luck yet.”
“Well take some time to warm up here.”
“Yeah. You know, I think a hot chocolate sounds pretty good right now.”
While the Cafe Lady prepared my drink, I set my bags down at a table a short distance from the apologetic couple. Oh, the simple pleasure of setting down a heavy load.
I paid for my hot chocolate, and delicately carried her back to my table. I call this hot chocolate “her” because, in that moment, this was no ordinary hot chocolate. Tastefully poised with hunk of solid chocolate resting gracefully upon a bed of pure, white, whipped cream, she was a classy, tasty lady. Even the overflowing goodness running down her sides only made her more appealing.
I sat with a beautiful view of the mountains and valleys below. Thankfulness for my life and the fullness thereof rose to the surface. I reached into my book bag, and pulled out my Bible to read and re-read a psalm that took on more meaning for me with each passing day.
The 23rd Psalm.
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures you let me graze;
to safe waters you lead me;
you restore my strength.
You guide me along the right path
for the sake of your name.
Even though I walk through a dark valley,
I fear no harm for you are at my side;
your rod and staff give me courage.
You set a table before me
as my enemies watch;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overfl...
I look up over my shoulder and up at the apologetic lady. She spoke with an English accent and said, “Excuse me, did I hear you say you're trying to get to Kenmare?”
“Uhm... Yes. Yes I am.”
“Would you like a ride?”
“Sure! Are you going that way?”
“No, but we can take you there. It's only 10 K.”
My cup overflows.
I walked with them to their little car, and climbed in the back seat. As we drove along, we began to get to know each other.
Mark and Carol-Ann were from London, and they were here in Ireland on vacation. They had fallen in love here 10 years ago, and were revisiting some of the places they had been. They were so warm and friendly. I was suspicious of something...
I told them about my journey so far, how I was getting around, the hostels I was staying at, and the conversation came around to what I did back home.
“I work with a group called Youth With A Mission...”
“Oh! YWAM!” came the response from the front seats.
I knew it. My suspicions were correct. These people were admitted Christians. They went on to tell me they had many friends who had been involved with YWAM.
We were now nearing Kenmare, and Carol-Ann seemed to be asking Mark something with her eyes. She seemed to get an answer.
“We're staying in a rented house just over in Dingle Bay,” she said somewhat tentatively, “It has four bedrooms and we're only using one. Would you like to stay with us tonight?”
“Does Johnny hate Jazz??? Of course I would you beautiful, crazy Brit!!!”
Well, I didn't quite say that. I said something like, “Um, well, I would not refuse a kindness. I'd love to!”
And so we drove through downtown Kenmare, the town I had thought was my destination, passing the hostels, where I might have stayed that night. We eventually came to the very small town, well, more like an ocean-side settlement of nice houses called Cromane.
We pulled into the driveway of the house. Palm trees swayed in the evening breeze. Yes, palm trees.
The car stopped, and the cool evening air greeted me as I climbed out from the back seat. Mark unlocked the side door, and we walked into the house. Oh my, it was nice. A great big, kitchen with a wood stove. A family room with a fireplace. A sitting room. And then, upstairs.
Bedrooms. A sitting room with a view of the bay. There was my bedroom. A great big Queen sized bed covered in an inviting white comforter sat across from a lovely, oh-so-private bathroom. I almost cried.
I showered and shaved while Mark and Carol-Ann prepared dinner. I put on some fresh clothes and came downstairs for dinner. I put my dirty clothes in the washing machine, and quietly rejoiced at the fact that though I was wearing my last clean pair of undies, there would be fresh ones waiting for me in the morning.
Supper smelled delicious, and tasted just as good. We laughed and told stories. Later we sat in the living room and got a little fire going. They told me about how they met in church, and then how they began to fall in love a few years later on a motorcycle trip through Ireland.
It was past midnight when we called it a night.
I slipped into my soft, warm bed. It was so soft, so warm, so... bed. I couldn't believe that all of what had happened today had in fact happened in a single day. From Cashel, to Killarney, to Kenmare and to Cromane, the Lord was my shepherd.
There was nothing I lacked.