Wednesday, February 25, 2009

rise and shine

-An older woman in the congregation telling me what life was like in Belfast during the second World War, with constant black-out (so bomber planes couldn't see lights below as targets). She talked about how they had to have black-out shades and no streetlights, and the day the lights came back on: "I felt like I was in a fairy world when all the lights came back on!"

-A really "on" night at my contemporary dance class. I felt like I really did my best.

-The warmth and light of a spring-like day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

playing catch up

-Exciting family news.

-A little girl punching the crosswalk button as she walked past it, to the scorn of her mother. By the time I reached it, I could cross right away.

-Little purple tulips magically appearing in our flowerbed.

-A busker in the middle of a busy shopping street belting out Johnny Cash tunes.

-Going to a dance class at the Grand Opera House led by Diversions, a Welsh contemporary dance company. They taught us some pieces they'll be performing tonight, and I will now fully appreciate the depth, skill and difficulty in them.

-A girl in my dance class inviting me for coffee, leading to a refreshing conversation about art, dance, feminism, Northern Ireland, housemates and more. We discovered that we share a love of the Queen's Film Theatre, and are planning to combine our brave-solo-movie-going habits and go together soon.

-Whistling as I walked.

-Texting my Dad to get pointers on making the perfect pot of beans and feeling like he was right there helping me. They were delicious (as were the jalapeno cornbread and spanish rice).

-A Sunday afternoon at home...the first in months. Veronika came over and we chatted, watched Sex & the City and had a lovely, relaxing time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

three's company (+ a dog)

Sorry I've been away for a few days...I have some more pictures to make up for it! My housemate Jonee is housesitting a lovely Irish farmhouse in Craigantlet, just a bit outside Belfast and near the beach. I took my friend Liz, and we all enjoyed a couple of days of watching movies, talking endlessly, relishing in a huge kitchen, walking on the beach with the amazing dog Casey and skipping stones in the Irish sea with such gusto that I was sore the next morning. I think the pictures convey the grace in this wee break. I hope you enjoy them. :) Whitney

(By the way--this is Casey's head as she dives in our game of "seaweed catch." She loved it.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

the dubliner

I impulsively decided to make the most of my Friday night off and take the bus to Dublin for a couple of days. I stayed last night in a little bed & breakfast, and spent my time exploring, reading, eating and I even went to a musical!

-Returning to Trinity College after a long time and feeling the immense history of the place--with Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde once calling it home and The Book of Kells calling it home now.

-A winding iron staircase in the library of Trinity College. (If anyone asks, I didn't take a picture in there!) I loved walking in and seeing stories of stories and smelling the musty, rich aroma of thousands of old books. Seeing the Book of Kells was absolutely amazing. I felt like Indiana Jones was going to bust in at any moment to uncover some secret passageway.

-The day before I went to Dublin, I looked up plays etc. in the area, but decided not to book anything so I would be more flexible. While wandering around Grafton Street, I came upon the Gaity Theatre--one I had been looking at online. Deciding it was fate, I bought a ticket to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and it was fantastic! I've taken classes on the Joseph narratives, done hours of translating and written several papers on his story, but nothing compares to the telling of it using Latin, Country-Western and 70's music, and yes, even Elvis. It was hilarious, poignant and all-in-all one of the most entertaining things I've seen in a while.

-The lights of Dublin at night reflecting off of the river.

-Those classic Irish lamp posts.

-The flame which burns continually, set inside a huge globe of chains, as a sign of hope for all who have suffered, especially children.

-The perfect combination.

-After being told by a local person that this bookstore/coffee shop was no longer here, I stumbled upon it, much to my surprise and delight. I remember resting our weary feet here when my family and I were trekking through Dublin, and was intent on finding it again.

-The bookstore part of the shop was the same, just a little smaller than before. There was still a quirky selection of old and new, amid innovative art, comfy chairs and regal chandeliers. The Winding Stair itself actually crumbled from old age it seems a few years ago. What was once a coffee shop above it has become a wonderful restaurant (keep reading, you'll see...)

-A very Glen Hansard-esque busker. I told him he reminded me of Glen, and he said he hears this often but "I had the beard first!" He was really talented.

-A beautiful door/sculpture along one of the main streets in the Temple Bar district. I'm really not sure what it is, but with the tree afixed to it, it looks like an elaborate entrance to some secret garden in the middle of the city.

-Going back to the Winding Stair for lunch and having what might just be my favorite meal ever: rich Irish beef and guiness stew with herby, creamy champ.

-Enjoying the view on my bus ride back to Belfast, and thinking I should take little trips like this way more often.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

turn, ready, warm

-Running into lots of old friends at the coffee shop and catching up. It was fun to see Jeff again and talk about mutual friends and share the news that he's getting married and I'm a minister now. He commented on how our lives have both taken fortuitous turns since we last met.

-The moment right before a dance routine starts (5, 6, 7, 8), where I take a deep breath and get ready to move.

-Curling up on the couch with my hot water bottle, a big fleecy blanket and warm socks.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

these are a few of my favorite things...

-Getting some very encouraging words at church today, on the heels of some less encouraging news. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has elected a new moderator: Rev. Stafford Carson, and he's against female ordination (and refused at one point to share the pulpit with a female minister from a neighbor church for a joint service). Today in the service, he was prayed for, as were "all women in ministry." I felt really loved and supported. Also, a woman came up to say that her young son thought I was "the coolest minister ever" because I played guitar and stayed up until 2am at Nightreach to give tea, soup and bacon sandwiches to students in the area. These words really uplifted me all day long.

-Hearing a steady drip-drip-drip from the window and looking up to see a huge sheet of ice dangling from the roof and melting slowly. A few minutes later, I heard a whoosh-thunk as the ice all tumbled down at once.

-Standing in the snow while having a happy conversation and letting snowflakes stay on my nose and eyelashes.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

dancing in the snow (as opposed to singing in the rain)

-More and more snow. I loved the look of melting snow and ice on my window with a blue sky shining through, walking through the park with snow crunching beneath my feet and seeing everything blanketed in snow.

-Feeling inspired to play my guitar and playing some old camp favorites and texting Karen in the States to say that I was thinking of her. She texted back that she was playing some songs for a retreat and was thinking of me too.
-Dancing as back-up dancers at the youth karaoke night with Jo and laughing deep, joyful, belly laughs.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

theresnow day like a snow day

-Talking to my sista on the phone.

-Waking up and noticing that my little ceiling window was a solid white glow. I got up to investigate and, sure enough, it was snowing! It's been snowing pretty much all morning now. There's something so peaceful about drinking a large mug of tea while watching snow flutter down. And having a morning meeting cancelled doesn't hurt either. ;)

-Tracy Chapman's "Talkin' Bout a Revolution" coming on my iPod. What a fantastic song.

(oh, and Melissa making this picture of me...hilarious!)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

now that's better

-A brilliant sunset lighting up the usually grey skies over my street, making them burst with pinks, blues, yellows and purples.

-Fluffy large snowflakes swirling down and dancing with the direction of the wind. They were short-lived: now we're on to sleet, snow's grumpy and sloppy cousin.

-The satisfying crunch of movie popcorn.

Monday, February 02, 2009

love's demand

-Meeting up with my home pastor's daughter, Liz, for a late breakfast at St. George's. It was refreshing to catch up on her experience as a Young Adult Volunteer here, and share laughter over cultural oddities and funny encounters. It was so nice to meet up again and see a familiar face, so we're going to make it a habit.

-Getting a new candle and enjoying its light honeysuckle fragrance and warm pink glow.

-Seeing Godfrey and Margaret Sunday as Godfrey came to lead the morning service. It was a warm reunion, where Margaret rushed over to give me a hug during the passing of the peace. I really enjoyed hearing Godfrey's gentle and enthusiastic sermon--he always preaches good old-fashioned gospel. Sometimes you just need to hear that the core of Christianity is profoundly simple. Proclaiming that the gospel is a gift but not cheap, he said, "love is the most demanding experience in the world."