Yesterday the Old Boy and I took two lovely Irish ladies on a short trip through the Barossa Valley. They’re the mother and aunty of my son’s fiancee, out here for the wedding. (Only two weeks to go!) We had a nice day: the weather was perfect, the vines were green and leafy, the picnic lunch with a surprise visit by a hungry family of magpies was fun, the shopping was delightful and the visits to a couple of wineries were most pleasant. We even saw a mother, teenager and baby kangaroo grazing on the side of the road. As we tootled along through the picturesque towns and past the beautiful vineyards – vines to the left of us, vines to the right – I said: How blessed are we to live here?!

Later, as our conversation meandered like the country roads we were driving along, I began to realise how blessed I am to live here. We have a small Irish branch on our family tree (doesn’t everyone) and I mean no disrespect for the wonderful Irish people but…the stuff that goes on in the North is nuts! When I was young there seemed to be a news item every second day about someone in Belfast being kidnapped and shot, or a bomb going off, or soldiers shooting someone at a check-point, etc. It’s not like that now; well, not often. But there’s still a lot of cr*p, all based on whether you’re Catholic/Protestant/Irish/English. Did you know there are even Catholic/Protestant names? For goodness sake!

I’m not going to go into more details as I don’t live there and I haven’t walked in their shoes. But, my brain is boggling at the way humans love to find reasons to be separated from others. We even build walls through the middle of our towns to make sure we don’t realise we’re all human beings, living on the same little ball of mud, hurtling through space. Belfast isn’t the only place that’s divided like that (Jerusalem immediately springs to mind) and it probably won’t be the last. It’s just another expression of our fallen human nature.

I feel for the people of Northern Ireland, living in a beautiful land but a divisive society and pray they’ll find a way through the suspicion, resentment and anger to reconciliation and peace. And I remind myself that I need to live in such a way that I don’t create those negative feelings in my community. The challenge for all of us is to sow seeds of appreciation, respect and trust with the people in our lives.

Keeping with the vineyard theme: we can gather the grapes of wrath or the grapes of peace. Which one tastes the sweeter? What are you planting in your corner of the world?
P.S. I still love the Irish.