Friday, April 1, 2011

Turning Darkness Into Light

Saint Matthew, an Illuminated Manuscript Page from the Book of Kells, 8th or 9th Century Ad Giclee Print
Several years ago we took a trip to Italy and the first part of the journey was one of those "logistical nightmares" that every traveler experiences from time to time.  At our age, you either learn from your mistakes, or you sincerely wish you had.  We learned.

Thus, when planning our trip to the Emerald Isle, I made sure that we made the trip in stages, and we arrived in Dublin a full day and a half before the tour was to actually begin.  After sleeping off our jet lag, we set out to explore the city. 

We hopped a bus and went down to Trinity College, the oldest one in Ireland, to view an exhibit called The Book of Kells, Turning Darkness Into Light.  We were so glad we did.


This exhibit displays beautifully illuminated manuscripts written around the year 800 AD, and is essentially a copy of each of the four gospels, copied meticulously by Irish monks at a time when many such copies were being destroyed in Europe during what came to be called the Dark Ages. (Hence, they were turning darkness into the light of the gospel.)

After viewing these wonderful artifacts, we proceeded into a part of the college called "The Long Room" - so named because it is 65 meters long.  It is a library with wall to wall books on both sides of the hall, stretching from floor to ceilings approximately twenty feet high.  I had never seen so many books in one room in my life.

But (much like the late-night commercials) wait...there's more!  There were busts of Milton, Locke and many others.  And there was an original of the Irish constitution.

And then, in the middle of all this, we came to, what was for me, one of the most wonderful items of all.  It was an ancient harp.

It was a simple instrument, much like the one
pictured at the right.  But it was very old, in fact, it
was considered to be the oldest harp in Ireland.

There are only three instruments considered to
be native to the Irish, and the harp is one of

As I pondered their history, so rife with suffering, war, famine, and deprivation, I thought how fitting that the harp, with its hauntingly lovely music, is one of their native instruments. 

In the Psalms (137:1-4) the Israelites hung their harps on willows (or poplars, depending upon which version you are reading) and declined to sing the songs of Zion while in captivity to Babylon.

The Irish we met were friendly, cheerful, welcoming people, who are keenly aware of their country's sorrows, but who have overcome those times to become who they are today.

This reminded me of another verse, Revelation 14:2:

"And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder.  The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.  And they sang a new song before the throne ... ."

Like many of you, David and I have known times when we wondered whether there would ever come a time of joy again.  As you can see from the picture of us above, this trip was a real joy.

But there is another "trip" , the journey of life, and while we may sometimes feel that we are captive to life's heartaches, and must hang up our harps for the time being, there will come a time for all who believe, when we will take up our harps in that great, joyful celebration before the throne of the Lamb!

Vacations can be wonderful.  But our permanent home with our Creator, will be better than we can possibly imagine.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." (I Corinthians 2:9)
Until next time - God bless you ...Marsha


  1. Great Post and Beautiful Picture.

  2. This is a wonderful post!

    Thank you for your visit!

    I love the sound of the harp!

    And your right, for it will be wonderful when we go home to be with Jesus!



  3. Amen! There are some beautiful and interesting places in the world but none can compare with the heavenly home God has prepared for His children :-)

  4. What a beautiful post! I'm going to add your blog to my reading list - somehow missed doing that!!

  5. Oh...I was there on Friday, showing my girls the Book of Kells for the first time. There excitement was contagious. I asked them if Daddy should build us a library like the long room and they thought it was a brilliant idea.

    What beautiful thoughts reflecting on a beautiful place.

  6. Hey Marsha,

    So glad you shared a bit about your trip! And, I love the harp image and pictures.

    I was at an event on Saturday where a beautiful harp was playing in the lobby all day. It was so soothing.

    I'll bet heaven is full of them!


  7. Sonja and Say What, Always good to hear from you both. And thanks for the feedback.

    Lon and ron, Glad to meet you both. Thanks for stoping by and for the kind comments.

    Karin, Thanks for joining in. I also read your post. Good stuff!

    Miriam, my friend, how fun to think we were both there within days of each other. I am really sorry we could not have met in person while we were there. Wonderful place, Trinity College.

    Melani, Thanks so much for your comments.

    God bless you all - Marsha