The small island of Ireland is a country on the west of Europe. It is known as the Emerald Isle. Photos taken of Ireland from the Space Station show the island is totally green. The photo does not show up any outline of a border. Since 1922 this beautiful land has been divided. Six counties in the north are called Northern Ireland. The remaining twenty six counties in the south are called the Republic of Ireland.
It was such a photo from the space station that inspired me to make a mosaic map of Ireland. I live beside the beach. I first picked up green pieces of broken glass there in May a year ago. The green, broken pieces of glass could have one time been parts of bottles that would have been used for all kinds of drinks. Before modern times when we are encouraged to recycle our empty bottles, many such bottles were disgarded into the sea from residents or ships that docked at Portaferry.
There were many shades of green among the pieces. As I looked at them I was inspired to make a mosaic of my country, Ireland, which has thirty two counties. I found a piece of wood and a tube full of tile filler. The outcome was a mosaic picture of Ireland.
The pieces of glass on the beach are all that remain of once useful vessels. The edges weren’t sharp any more and their colours were cloudy from the years of being broken and worn with the sea storms. They had lost their shine. As the raw glass is broken into smaller pieces and slowly polished by the sand as it is rolled around in the surf for anywhere from 5 to 50 years it becomes sea glass.
Like precious gems, sea glass is rare and beautiful.
Some of the synonyms for broken are
Damaged, in pieces, severed, injured, fragmented, dismembered, shattered.
The sea glass reminds me of broken people. The words above can be used to describe them. What hope is there for them? Each one may have felt useful at some part of their life. One may have felt whole at one time but life’s tests bring brokenness. These people have been worn down by the storms of life.
Circumstances in life bring troubles, disappointments, lose, fear, anxiety or rejection or divorce and one is relegated to the ash heap.
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.”
Psalm 113:7-8 NIV
But even after many years Our Creator God can reach down and touch all that remains of a broken vessel and make something new. My mosaics speak to me of hope. There is life after brokenness.
Like people, Ireland has been through much brokenness in her history, famines, invasions, civil wars, external wars, emigration, recession and divisions. Despite it all Ireland is surviving.
Just this week in the local Papers. I read these reports.
The Belfast Telegraph article by Cate Mc Curry on 17 th May 2016
Beautiful County Fermanagh came top in a survey to find the UK’s most neighbourly places.
It showed Northern Ireland is friendlier than anywhere in England, Scotland and Wales, with Fermanagh topping the list of counties ahead of Armagh and Antrim.
All of Northern Ireland’s counties made the top 10 friendliest spots across the UK – with the province dominating the top six.
The findings emerged after a study by the Big Lottery’s Big Lunch, which aims to bring communities together and reduce loneliness and isolation. Now in its eighth year, The Big Lunch is an idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the Big Lottery Fund. It aims to get as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours in a simple act of community, friendship and fun.
According to the website Belfast Live, Belfast has been voted the best city in the UK to visit. I quote,
“Belfast scooped the top accolade at the Guardian and Observer Travel Awards 2016.
The annual awards recognise excellence across the tourism industry and are voted for by members of the public.
Belfast now welcomes around seven million visitors a year and nearly two million of them stay for at least one night.
And tourism contributes more than £450million to the city’s economy annually.”
Whatever your budget, you will find a place in Belfast to eat or stay that suits you.
I am very encouraged to read about this success for Belfast. Despite Policital controversy Belfast is prospering!
Here is another success report from the Independant.ie on 17 th May 2016. I quote,
The report suggested that people in Ireland enjoy some of the healthiest lives.
A woman, with a life expectancy of 83.1, can also expect to spend 68 of those years in good health, while a man, who can expect to live to 79, can also look forward to 65.8 years with no major health scares.
Elsewhere, the figures also indicate a well-educated and hard-working nation.
The number of 25-34-year-olds who have been to college or university is the fourth highest in the EU – and they put it to use.
The report noted that even though we clock long hours, the productivity per hour was the fourth highest in Europe, behind Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The study confirmed Irish marriages last long with the divorce rate the lowest on record, 0.6 per 1,000 people.
The country still had the third fastest growing population in Europe over the previous 10 years.
Ireland is a safe place to live for the unborn, the young and old. I have always maintained that Ireland has been a good place to raise a family. Now people from all counties are circulating around our island from the south to the north, and the east to the west. May Ireland always remain green and friendly in the north and the south.
I believe God is reaching down and restoring our land as evidenced by these three newspaper reports. People will want to come to live in this friendly place.