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Traveling Ireland: Guinness, a Donegal Hostel, and the power of prayer

A book excerpt from the spiritandflesh.com religion and spirituality online library.



                I certainly drank my fair share of Guinness during my stay in Ireland, though my intake was nothing compared to that of a brilliant young cossack named Jim Gains, whom I met in a country hostel, just outside the town of Donegal. Jim was on a year-long drinking binge, which began soon after his younger brother died in his arms in the aftermath of a head-on automobile collision, the trauma of which had led Jim to the pub- any pub- everyday for the last year, from 10:00 am in the morning until the publican poured him out onto the street in the wee hours. Jim was as hard at the sauce as they come, and boy was he all the more pugnacious, perspicacious, and laughably entertaining because of it, for though he was thickly embalmed with the booze, it seemed he was born for it- like many a Celtic man- and would live his life out and attain a ripe old age despite the chronic pickling- or perhaps because of it.

                Jim was as crazy as they come, and full of euphoria for life. He related to me how one night, while visiting Paris, he and some friends snuck into the well-guarded cemetery containing Jim Morrison's grave, and poured an entire bottle of Jack Daniel's over the tombstone, in veneration and respect, and then cracked another bottle and downed it between the group, before laying down and sleeping that night by the tomb.


                 I spent a day wandering around Donegal Town with Gains, sipping cider near the ocean, and sharing stories, poems, and ribaldry. He was a fine mate to endure the world with at that time, although I was noticing that he was so full of wild energy, so full of his own effect on others, and so full of making merry from whatever came to him, that he was off his center, and I had the sense that something was going to collapse around him, which did.

                As we were walking back to the hostel, which was on the outskirts of Donegal Town, we passed some travellers headed the other way. These folks had just found a baby kitten in the forest, but were soon to be boarding a bus, and so asked if we would take the cat and try to find a home for it. As I was by then refusing to get tangled in other people's lives, karma, and creations, I had no intention of taking the kitten, but Jim immediately jumped at the possibility, without much thought, and soon we were headed back to the hostel again, he with a pussy in his paws.

                After arriving, Jim asked anyone and everyone if they would be interested in taking the little kitten as a pet, which none of them were. And so it quickly dawned on him that he had taken upon himself a responsibility which he had no desire to fulfil, and now he was the owner of a feeble little animal, whom no one else wanted, and neither could he keep, for he was soon leaving town as well, and there was no way he could be a pet owner, not with his unpredictable and untethered lifestyle anyway. He soon became morose, anxious, and a bit unstrung, as his life was now in shambles, because he had thoughtlessly embraced a possibility simply because it was a possibility, and he had taken on someone else's burden without realizing what that meant.


                In very short time he was such a wreck that he was talking about clubbing the cat over the head, because he could not take it with him, and no one else wanted it, and it was going to have a horrid time if he simply abandoned it, so he might as well end its life before the suffering began.

                At the height of his frenzy he and I were sitting out on the front lawn of the hostel, and he turned to me and, with a desperate tone to his voice, asked, somewhat rhetorically, "I wonder what Christ would do in a situation like this?", a question which I have often asked myself, so often in fact that I have actually come up with an answer: he would pray, for that is what Christ did when there was nothing left to do, because he knew that he could do nothing of his own power. And so I related this to Jim, who, though he was a strongly spiritual man, thought maybe I was playing with him, because what can prayer do at a time like this?

                Well, Jim's conundrum and confusion continued, and we sat out there for another hour or so, and the tempest within him surged on, until once again he turned to me and asked, "What would Christ do?", to which I rejoined, this time emphatically, "Christ would pray!"

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                I could see the wheels now churning within Jim's overwrought cranium, and with a last look of capitulation he got up and ran into the hostel, and I knew he was going in to pray.

                Jim had gone upstairs, found himself a quiet, empty room, and laid his soul bare in front of God. And when he came back downstairs the proprietress of the hostel told him that she had decided to take the cat.

                Jim was elated, and not only that, he had experienced what the most powerful powerless man to ever walk upon the tempestuous shores of this psychic realm had known full well- "Of myself I can do nothing", and so he prayed.


(excerpted from Roots and Wings: adventures of a spirit on earth, by Jack Haas)






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