Tuesday, June 30, 2009

found in translation

-Signs of summer: being able to dry my sheets on a line outside and eating fresh strawberries with cream. It's so popular here this time of year that the grocery store was giving away free whipping cream when you bought strawberries!

-Finishing the last pages of a book I've been reading with my coffee this morning. Reading comes in cycles for me, and I'm definitely craving good books right now. I think books just get under your skin a bit more. I find myself thinking about books long after I've finished them as I continue trying to suss out the characters. TV might be instant gratification entertainment, but it's gone just as quickly.

-Spending my morning translating (with the help of Bible Works) some texts for a couple of sermons. I rarely have time to do this, but today I did. It's good to be working with biblical languages again, and to experience the spark of memory when I recognize words.

Monday, June 29, 2009

there's something magical about...

-The smell (and of course, taste) of pancakes and bacon. There's something so comforting and homey about it.

-Little boys chasing pigeons with gusto.

-Going to the fabulous Linen Hall Library--this time with a membership card--and picking up a fun variety of books. I love this old library in the heart of Belfast. Little old men read their newspapers in tucked-away corners by windows as they sit at mahogany tables. Today, I saw an adorable old man with a shock of white fluffy hair and big ears and he was really the closest thing I've found to an elf here. You can check out books for a month at a time, so I loaded up. On a whim before leaving, I checked out the cooking section and grabbed a Jamie Oliver one. Cookbooks are my favorite to read, so why do I never think to pick them up at libraries? I'm glad I did.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

make a move

-Dancing in the Belfast Carnival. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so much imagination and beauty. I had a wonderful (and exhausting) time.

-A postcard from Ian and Gina in Italy saying that they found their hostel after some travel trouble, and now they "explore the home of Michelangelo, Raphael and all of the other Ninja Turtles." :)

-Hearing from Lori that she's meeting up with my friend Lynn in Atlanta, who I blog-introduced her to when I found out she was moving from here to there. I love that two people I think are really fun are going to meet and hang out. Little world colliding!

Friday, June 26, 2009

meandering home

-When I realized that my bus home from the city centre wasn't coming for another 30 minutes, I decided to walk. The walk was way better than the bus ride...I saw a gorgeous orange and pink sunset over the Lagan and picked flowers growing wildly on hedges along the sidewalk. The bus didn't even catch up to me until I was a block away from home.

-At our last pratice for carnival dance (the carnival's tomorrow!), one of the drummers came over and said "You guys look great." I hope we keep dancing after this, because it's been a bizarrely fun experience.

-I was frustrated this afternoon trying to find the best deal on a flight home for the end of July, and the next thing I knew, I heard my co-worker on the phone to a flight company asking about "flights to Houston for my friend." He helped me as we trudged from site to site and phone call to phone call, and finally achieved a booked ticket. It was really nice of him, and a relief to have things booked.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

lovely connections

-Being shown how to make daisy chains by lacing stems of flowers together.

-A smile from a stranger as he passed me on the street.

-A woman talking on her cell phone behind me saying, "What's for tea? Well, yummy beef pie with potato croquettes. Ok? Love you honey bunch. Bye, sweetie."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

the doors

-I was locked out of dance class last night, but luckily so was a French girl who's in the class. We've never really gotten to know each other while dancing, so we went and had a pint and did.

-The first delicious bite of a toasted bagel with cream cheese. Yum.

-A family has moved in across the street, and when I came home there were three little girls with long hair jumping and laughing in the sunshine outside their door.

(By the way, I think I have finally decided on a blog design. It's been so much fun playing around with ideas, but I think I've settled on this one. I love how 3D (or is it 2D?) it feels.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

remember, reinvent, reconnect

-A couple sitting at the bus stop, one saying to the other "Remember when we first met? I do."

-Having great fun jazzing up my blog. I keep adding things (and think I might be getting carried away). My favorite is the "shalom" in Hebrew.

-Calling the fantastic Marie at First Pres Bryan and saying, "Marie? It's Whitney." and hearing "HEEEEYY!" from the other end. She has such insight and joy.

Monday, June 22, 2009


What a whirlwind week I had last week! First, my good friends Ian and Gina came from the States for a wee visit and we had the greatest time catching up, slagging each other off*, seeing the sights of Belfast and re-living old memories. Then, in the middle of the week, about 20 Romanian families in Belfast were victims of racial intimidation: a group of teenagers broke into their homes and hurled racial slurs at them. These families were removed from the area for their own safety and taken first to a church, then a gym and now an undisclosed location. Chris and I know several of the children affected by these terrible events, and have been supporting them. So, all in all, a very busy week! I'll share some of my glimpses of grace from it with you...

(*: "slagging off", ie. "taking the mickey out of", v. Belfast slang for making fun of someone. Most commonly is a sign of affection.)

-Ian announcing his arrival by sticking his head in the window above my door and giving me a cheeky grin. He is ridiculously tall (by my standards, anyway...). The hugs and "Heeeey! Howareya?" that ensued made for a great reunion.

-Gina's enthusiasm about my house, loving everything from my yellow kitchen to my green "wooden" bathroom floor. She looked around and said, "Hmm. Everything's different--just slightly--but different."

-A gorgeous sunny walk in Botanic Gardens smelling the huge variety of roses "This one's lemony!", "Wow-this one's like cinnamon!", "This one's like...cleaner. Ugh." I smelled roses until I had a headache from all the fragrance. It's amazing how each one has such a different scent.

-I loved this little guy. He looks so real, I half expected him to wink at me as I walked by.

-This huge bright lizard caught me completely off guard. The colors and quirkiness instantly made me think of my Aunt Karen.

-I love the Palm House in Botanic Gardens. Just gorgeous.

-I, of course, took them to St. George's Market (I feel like they should give me a commission for all the advertising I do for it here!!) for the Friday Variety Market. Gina had her first Ulster Fry and loved it. It was also a cozy respite from the cold, rainy weather.

-Bright orange goldfish swirling around in a big blue plastic tub. I thought of buying one but didn't...maybe next week.

-There are several ways I know I'm becoming just a bit more Northern Irish. The fact that I find rainy streets beautiful is just one of them.

-Going into a gym where Roma families were being temporarily held and having several children I know rush over to hug me, their faces lighting up with seeing someone they know.

-The amazing resilience of Roma people. They had been through the most harrowing experiences but were able to just sit around talking, while children played expansively, enjoying the huge gym.

-A colder night that demanded my soft flannel pj's instead of the cotton ones. I really enjoyed the extra warmth.

-The energy and collective passion of a community worship service at Fitzroy that centered around solidarity with Romanians and all immigrants, fighting racism and the poverty that ignites it, and worshipping the God of all people. As Chris and I pulled up to the church, we saw about 20 Roma children playing inside the church gates. When some of the teenagers played with them after the service one turned to me and said, "These kids are awesome!"

-While talking to my sister on the phone, she held it up to my niece and I said "Hi, Natalie! It's Aunt Whit...I love you, sweetie!" and I heard a little squeal. My sister got back on the phone and said, "Whit, I swear she totally smiled!" It made my night.

Monday, June 15, 2009

all that jazz

I'm sorry I've been belated in my blogging! Life has gotten very busy, but I have lots of pictures to show for it...

-I was on a training retreat for Preparing Youth to be Peacemakers through the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and enjoyed a couple of days in Derry. Derry was one of the places hardest-hit by the Troubles (Bloody Sunday happened there), and remains a place where tensions bubble beneath the surface as communities insulate themselves from one another. Today, there is a very small minority of Protestants in Derry, with a lot of the Catholic population actively seeking Republican ideals. This "free Derry" wall was painted to show British soldiers decades ago where the Catholic community began. It remains today as both a sign of Republican fervor and a tourist attraction.
As we went through the training, I found that I was able to instantly engage and enjoy it, but realized that as much as I love and am called to this place, this is not my history. I then looked around and saw my colleagues engaging and unmasking their stereotypes and was amazed at their openness. I only hope that, when engaging with my own history in all its complicity of racism and fear, I can approach it with the same openness to transformation.

-We went on two walking tours in Derry, one with a Protestant guide and one with a Catholic. They told very different stories and celebrated very different histories. But both were proud, kind and lovely people.

-A little comic relief...now that is one dapper looking badger!

-I loved driving through endless verdant hills with Ruth in her mini. I never get tired of the green here.

-Catherine and I went to Rowallane Gardens for a picnic (another one) and jazz. It was nice and sunny, and it turned out that Joanna from Fitzroy was playing in the youth jazz orchestra. My day before this was really hectic, but after relaxing in the beautiful gardens it was all forgotten.

-There were people there grilling fancy fish and drinking champagne as their "picnic", but I thought homemade pasta salad and smokey chorizo sliced was pretty fantastic.

-And Catherine provided a sweet ending to a lovely evening!

Monday, June 08, 2009

happy anniversary!

It's my parents' 36th wedding anniversary! They're in North Carolina at Montreat Youth Conferences serving as small group leaders today. This slide should show up on the big screen in front of everyone, wishing them a great day. Love you! Whit

Sunday, June 07, 2009


-Presiding over my first funeral, and realizing what a complete honor it is to be invited into such personal and sacred moments. Other than accidentally saying "he will not be forgotted", it went really well. It's a wonderful thing to be able to say "Death does not win. Life does. Love does. And love endures forever."

-Ending up on msn.com and seeing a thrilling article about my super-athlete cousin (my cousins are ridiculously athletic), Bonnie, who won the state track championship single-handedly against over 50 schools. Again. She did it last year, too. Way to go, Bonnie!!

-Holding Neil & Ruth's precious baby girl Ruby Rose, and thinking that I've had a very full-circle couple of days.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

T.S. & T.K.

-Going with my new friend Catherine to see Ondine the ballet in Botanic Gardens. It's a really wonderful thing: a live stream of the Royal Ballet performing in London sent all over the UK. It was free, a beautiful day, and we had all sorts of yummy picnic snacks like proscuitto, parmesan, tomatoes with basil and caramel squares. Oh, and a bit of red wine too! It was such a lovely way to spend the evening. As we left I heard some people behind us say, "See, when you go away, you come home and discover things that are new to you. It's like home is a holiday." I thought of one of my favorite T.S. Eliot quotes: "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

-Going to T.K. Maxx (it's K not J here) and finding bargain summer bedding. I really love my green and blue lightweight quilt that keeps me just warm enough, but not too hot on cool summer nights.
-Light-hearted banter.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

moving along

-Working really, really hard at dance class and feeling the difference. When my teacher (who, by the way, is a dead ringer for Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music) said, "Whitney, now do it a bit more freely, relax into the movement" and I did the next time, she said "Yes! Much better." Our bodies really are remarkable. She can tell me something to do, I can concentrate on it, and then it happens...most of the time.

-Seeing one of the young people we work with speak at General Assembly, and thank us for all we do. What a great kid.

-Prophetic words uttered courageously.

Monday, June 01, 2009

no monday blues here

-"I think you lead a fascinating life."

-Feeling inspired (by the colors in a tea towel, actually) to re-do my living room using things I already had, giving it a bit of funky personality.

-A phone call from home! I was so excited that my parents could call me from their cell phones now.

-Warm sunshine on my face, sweet caffeinated goodness in a mocha frappuccino, a new friend.