by Sr. Noeleen Mooney MMM Ireland 28.04.2022
When I returned to Ireland after many years in East Africa, I joined a local hill-walking group. Apart from pandemic lock-downs, we meet every second Sunday, from September to June. For me, it has opened up a whole new world of challenges, new vistas and awesome beauty.
Recently, we did a sponsored walk in aid of Ukraine. It was billed as the “20, 20, 20” Challenge. It was done on March 20th, covered 20 kms and we each donated Euro €20 and it raised Euro €1000.
The walk was in the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down. We climbed three mountains. It was cold and windy, but we were sheltered for most of the journey by the Mourne Wall. This amazing structure, 1.5 metres high, stretches over thirty-one kms and passes over fifteen of the highest mountains in the region. It took twenty years to build and is a hundred years old this year. Its purpose was to protect the Silent Valley Reservoir (which supplies water to the city of Belfast) from contamination by livestock. It is crafted in huge blocks of natural granite. Stonemasons worked from mid-March to mid-October every year for eighteen years to build the wall.
When I looked at the size of the granite blocks, I realised that when they were put in place there were no modern machines for lifting or moving anything on these rugged hillsides. The strength and resilience involved are powerful testaments to the human spirit.
As we climbed that day, safely and sheltered, I will never forget the deep sense of gratitude I felt, for the freedom, for the vastness and peace that surrounded us. We also pondered on the imaginable horrors unfolding in Ukraine.
Sometimes, it takes the ‘lifting of the eyes to the mountains’ (Psalm 120) to make me realise my littleness, my utter dependence on God, and my fellow walkers. This allows me to enlarge my world, rise above the things that bog me down, and allows me to experience the sheer wonder of our natural world. I pray that the peace in my heart can spread and reach the ends of our troubled world.