After listening to the sounds of chisels on stone and watching strong men lift big rocks during West Cork’s annual Stone Symposium, I headed over to Frank’s shop in a remote village on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula for a popsicle. Thankfully it’s an all-in one-shop … the popsicles are kept near the post office counter:)
Only Frank wasn’t there! I walked outside, popsicle in hand, and found him chatting away with a short, American sounding women. He was filling up her car with petrol and all I kept thinking was, god, I’ve never actually seen that fuel pump in use!
As I stood waiting to pay, I began to observe this small woman. She had lovely, flowing hair and what seemed a natural intuition. There was something in the way she spoke to Frank that made me feel this. I unwrapped my popsicle and began to lick the cold colors to soothe the heat of the day. As I licked I wondered…where was this woman from and what she was doing down here in Kilchrohane in late March?
You just never know who you’re going to meet…
Turns out this woman is Robin Rose Bennett, a well-known herbalist and elder in world of plant medicine. She is a teacher, published author, and has worked for years in the Bronx giving free health consultations to local people. And she completely surprised me outside of that shop when she asked, almost out of nowhere, “Are you Rosalee’s friend?” … My popsicle almost dropped out of my hand!
You see, last summer my herbalist friend Rosalee de la Foret came on Retreat to Ireland as a guest teacher and participant. Robin found out about me from Rosalee and when she decided to travel over to Ireland for 3 weeks she thought about getting in touch with beforehand. But she didn’t. So when we met in the little village of Kilchrohane on this sunny Sunday we were both in a little awe. After some excited talking we decided to spend some time together and explore this fortuitous meeting.
What happened next…
We got in the car and drove over to the nearby Beara Peninsula. Robin would shout out little hellos or thoughts or facts about the plants we encountered; how she loves using the flowers of Elderberry for medicine, how hawthorn is one of her favorite trees, and how useful self-heal is as a medicinal plant.
We stopped at Dzogchen Beara, the Buddhist retreat center with an incredible view, and had lunch. We visited the Hag of Beara, an ancient stone that represents a crone Goddess who brings winter with her and wields the power of life and death. People stop here to leave trinkets and gifts of respect and hope for their lives. As did we.
Robin and I spent the day enjoying each other’s company, exploring, and soaking in the warmth of the Irish sun right into our bones. Because, that’s what you do in Ireland…just in case the sun doesn’t return! I’ve learned that when meetings like this happen it’s best to go with the moment and be open to what unfolds. So that’s what I did. But always, like a little niggle in my mind I do wonder, what brought us together on that fine day? What does it mean? And where will it take us? Can you relate? When what seems like magic happens it always gets me wondering…
I do know one thing. I’m grateful to have met Robin. Her herbal work in local communities is really inspiring and I recommend checking her out. She is on sabbatical this year, refilling her cup as she says, but will be back to teaching in 2019 … ready for action:)
Now it’s your turn … have you ever had a meeting like this before? How did you handle it? What happened? Leave a comment below, we love hearing your stories!