While unpacking all our boxes when we first moved into our little piece of earth here at the end of the world I came across a diary I had kept while on pilgrimage in 1990. In it I found a message from a now old and dear friend who I met one night on a dusty road leading into the small village of Medugorje, Croatia. For a while we corresponded regularly and then as life continued forward we would exchange cards at Christmas and Easter times. In 1996 I spent a month in Eire and while in Dublin spent much of my time in his company. It was unfortunate but inevitable that once home and despite all resolve I became involved in my life and eventually all contact between us stopped.
So there I was sitting on the floor of our new home miles away from anything familiar surrounded by used packaging materials reading a diary I had kept while on pilgrimage almost twenty years ago and remembering. I recalled the peace and tranquillity of that small peasant village, the dust and the heat and the sheer joy of the experience. I was 17 and coming to the end of my school career and here I was in Eastern Europe having very grown up discussions about life, love and religion with a stranger. I had left on pilgrimage with no expectations, just a teenaged excitement at the prospect of being in a foreign country without parents or teachers. This was to be an experience I could keep for myself. I went home having gained a friend and confidant, a deeper understanding of myself and a more open mind towards my faith and the faithful. I will be forever grateful to the Irishman for helping me gain so much from those two intense yet fulfilling weeks, though I doubt he would take any of the credit. I recall it all with such clarity, even twenty years later I can still remember the many testaments that were shared at the impromptu gatherings that happened after daily mass. I still burst into the songs of praise I learnt over that time while in the shower. I taught my baby brother some of those songs when I was home, I wonder if he can remember them.
I was brought back to reality by the Butterfly and, once I had attended to her needs, left the diary and my memories tucked away in my newly acquired book case, once again forgotten in the wake of the more pressing and current priorities. Then we had a month long visitor from home which required some moving of furniture and I was once again to come across the diary and was reminded of the Irishman. This time I decided to try and see if I could get back in contact with him. I still have a telephone number and address of his family home in Terenure Dublin but no clue if he or his family still lived there. I had posted a letter or two to that address many years before and never received a replied, so I discounted the virtue of “snail mail.” I could have called the number but not being sure of the time difference or what it is I would actually say to whoever answers made that a non option. So I turned to technology and the wonders and horrors of the internet and “googled” the Irishman. Success! I actually got a hit! It did not give me a way of contacting him but it did give me hope. In the course of my electronic search I came across a site that allows one to put up an advert looking for people one met while travelling and another that searches the web for you and send s you information according to the “key words” you supply for the search. I was sceptical that either would produce any success but interested to see what would happen anyway so I typed in the key words and to date have not received anything new that I was unable to find on my own. The advert however was a different matter.
It was approximately seven months ago that I put up a post about looking for the Irishman and then in the course of all that has happened forgot about it. Imagine my surprise and absolute delight when I received notification that there was a reply to my post. Dropping everything I was doing I clicked on the link and there was a message from and an email address for my “long lost” friend. I of course, remained true to form and character and bounced about the house in sheer bliss and glowing in my success and of course my cleverness for posting the add in the first place. Of course the truth is that it was not my genius but rather serendipity that had a hand in reconnecting me with someone I have always held in high regard. It was serendipity that placed the Irishman and his son at the computer so that the father could show the son how “google” works. The father types his name into “google,” hits “enter” and there on his screen pops up my post. What a shock he must have gotten.
It is scary just how much information one can find out there in cyber space! George Orwell’s novel “1984” is prophetic when he says “Big brother is watching you...” because in today’s electronic age very little is private or sacred. But I, though cautious, will be forever grateful to “Google” and serendipity for the part they played in my search as across the miles on the other side of the world I am dancing a jig thrilled to bits to be back in contact with my favourite Irishman.