Have you ever felt like Alice, chasing an illusive white rabbit through the mazes of Wonderland? Because we had lingered longer than expected at the music festival, we were already “behind schedule” as we headed into Belfast.We gave up on trying to visit the highly rated Ulster Museum and just whisked through town capturing glimpses of a few of Belfast’s more notable sights such as the fabled Parliament Building, which someone told us “was Northern Ireland.” The Parliament Building (as I understand it) is 365 feet long (one for every day of the year) and was built in 1932 in honor of Northern Ireland’s loyalty to Britain, although I know the longing for Irish independence has been an unending, complex issue for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.It was a beautiful afternoon, so we couldn’t resist strolling through the extensive grounds of “Stormont Estate” where the buildings are located. This was a byway I’d not read about or anticipated, and I knew time was getting away on us.
What to do?There always seems to be the challenge of balancing opportunities that come to us with the importance of pursuing our visionary ideals. Do I keep the bird that’s in my hand or chase the two in the bushes? We didn’t want to miss the loveliness and life lessons in front of us simply because they appeared unexpectedly while we were trying to find Belfast Castle, so we paused to reflect on this beautiful memorial depicting the need for all mankind to seek forgiveness and love, even in the face of tragic evil and war.And we rambled past a grove of stately trees on lawns sprinkled with spring flowers, where I felt a little like we were part of some historic memory.
Breathe deeply and connect with time immemorial.But, soon enough we were on our way to the top of Cave Hill in hopes of seeing at least a little bit of Belfast Castle before its 6:00 pm closing time.I was overjoyed that the gate was still open at 5:40. It looked so inviting!But, we were too late to get in! The guard told me the gate was still open for the guests who were already inside, but they stopped new admissions at 5:30 pm. We were 10 minutes too late. 😦
Sadly, all we could do was walk along the edge and try to catch some glimpses through the fences and hedges.I do not think I would have changed anything about the good parts of the day, but we spent at least an hour getting lost, missing turns, and feeling a bit confused and frustrated about our directions…and it really did make me stop and think. Are we really following the Way, or do we spend significant parts of each day getting off the right track because we’re not paying close enough attention? Do we trust our Guide, or do we wonder if he’s really right (as our GPS unit sometimes isn’t)?
And, are we even chasing the right dreams? I think we would have loved Belfast Castle. If we’d been just a little wiser and more careful, we could have made it to the castle in time. In our journey through the wonderland of this world, I am praying that we all follow the Way and make it safely to our final destination —our very most important date—in time. I hope none of us ends up lamenting: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20).
“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
(2 Corinthians 6:2)