We need to appreciate every day and every person in our lives as a gift

I was off this week and decided to spend a few days in Donegal.

I was tempted to book somewhere abroad but I have grown weary of airports and the stress of being on time for flights and trying to catch transfers.

So this year I decided to stay closer to home and booked into a hotel in Annagry.

For years we spent most of our holidays and day trips investigating the wilds and the beauty of Donegal.

As children we didn’t always appreciate the journey, suffering the boredom of being stuck in the back seat of the car with my younger brothers and sister.

As you looked out at the rain, usually the low clouds seem to hide anything of note worth seeing.

The mood was further worsened by the Country and Western music which seemed to add to the Groundhog Day feeling as you hear the trauma of one man’s life ruined when his wife ran off with his best friend, the dog ran off too and just for good measure he’s lost his job and house.

In fairness, Country music is like watching Eastenders; you don’t feel as bad about your own life when you see the depression portrayed on the screen. With such joyful memories I ventured on the road to Annagry with my brother providing his considerable navigation skills or more precisely those of his phone.

I knew how to make my way to Dunlewey; after that we had to make a few stops in the torrential rain to allow the Sat-nav to recalculate but eventually we arrived at our destination. We got a great mid-week deal which included two nights’ bed and breakfast plus an evening meal.

The food as well as the accommodation was first class, so after a healthy cooked breakfast our travelling party ventured out in search of the cliffs of Slieve League.

Getting to the cliffs was an enjoyable car trip; the two mile walk on foot was slightly more challenging as the wind blew off the sea into your face.

Such was the wind’s power, the waterfalls which normally flow down the cliffs were blown back over the path which meant you got drenched.

Yet the sight which greeted us as we reached the coastline was spectacular. By the time I had taken roughly 500 shaky photographs of stormy seas, cliff face and people’s feet I was well and truly shattered. All in all it was an incredible experience, enhanced by the coastal journey home.

We can travel the world in search of adventure and the pursuit of new experiences yet we can fail to appreciate what’s on our doorstep.

When we broaden our horizons and experience more of life we can be opened up to possessing a greater understanding of what is of value, what is beautiful and what is truly humbling and awe-inspiring. Having an appreciation for the power of nature can put us in touch with a sense of humility and gratitude for what we have in life.

When we take time out to look at our lives, especially to recognise the people who form the heart of our relationships, are we thankful or do we take family, friends and neighbours for granted?

I know I’m guilty of taking the generosity and the support of others for granted. To become more the person God wants us to be we need to appreciate every day and every person in our lives as a gift. We depend on each other and we too need see beyond our own needs to reach out to the stranger, even to those we don’t like.