Monday, November 30, 2009

oh, i see

-Walking through the park this morning and having a moment of being completely blinded by the sun, so much so that the person who walked by me just looked like a glowing outline. As I felt the warm sun shine through huge pine trees, I felt a deep sense of pure love. It was one of those fleeting moments of sheer clarity when I realized how very much God is looking after me and all I do.

-Being in a room full of Fitzroy youthy-types and thinking about how much they all mean to me, and how intertwined our lives have become. I think back of other churches I've worked in or attended and I also feel this connection with them, even though I'm not physically there. This is something that I think is unique about the church, and probably part of why I'm drawn to it.

-Coming home to warmth.

-Making up a new word for Advent: that I'm adventurous. What a nerd I am.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


-Tonight, Andrea, Tilmann, Catherine and I met up at the Christmas Continental Market at the city hall. Bundled up to ward off the cold weather, we meandered through stalls from several countries (Poland, Spain, Germany, France, India, and oh yes, the U.S. to name a few) amid a crowd of other festively-minded folks. I had a steaming bowl of fragrant chicken & chorizo paella, followed by mulled wine from a local winery and amazing chocolate churros that we all shared as our fingers got gooey and we laughed at the fun of it. Oh, heaven. Thanksgiving all over again. We walked, snapped pictures, ATE, laughed, made up twisted versions of Christmas songs ("Frosty the Snowman...roasting on an open fire..."), and I even bought an adorable little Christmas tree for a tenner that Tilmann graciously lugged around. That provided for even more silly antics, and we may have invented not only bizarre Christmas songs but a new winter olympic sport called "Christmas tree jousting." Then, we (and "we" includes the tree) came back to my house to watch friends and then sung Swell Season, U2 and, sigh, even Ricky Martin songs with Jonee. It was such a great night...full of grace, friendship and food. What more could you need?

Friday, November 27, 2009


-Successfully cooking my first entire Thanksgiving dinner at Andrea and Tilmann's, taking one bite and sighing with joy that it tasted just like home. I made turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, cinnamon-roasted butternut squash and broccolini with pancetta and chestnuts. Yum! It's a wonderful thing to have people to cook for, and we all had a great time. A skype video call with my family was especially fun: they saw my friends, we got to catch up and my friends even hummed the national anthem in the background to be silly. It was great. (I'll try to get some pictures up soon.)

-Walking through the park on a sunny, chilly day and enjoying the bright blue sky, crisp air and music pumping through my iPod.

-A very relevant lectionary reading today.

Also, I intended to include a little Thanksgiving prayer yesterday, so I'll give it to you today. It's from the Iona community.

O God, for your love for us, warm and brooding,
which has brought us to birth and opened our eyes
to the wonder and beauty of creation,
For your love for us, wild and freeing,
which has awakened us to the energy of creation:
to the sap that flows,
the blood that pulses,
the heart that sings.
For your love for us, compassionate and patient,
which has carried us through our pain,
wept beside us in our sin,
and waited with us in our confusion,
For your love for us, strong and challenging,
which has called us to risk for you,
asked for the best in us,
and shown us how to serve.
O God we come to celebrate
that your Holy Spirit is present deep within us,
and at the heart of all life.
Forgive us when we forget your gift of love
made known to us in Jesus,
and draw us into your presence.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

give thanks with a grateful heart

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! It's a lovely, cold, sunny day in Belfast and I'm doing a bit of work before attempting to pull off a big Thanksgiving meal for some friends. I'm looking foward to yummy comfort food, great company and a good skype call with all my family back home. There's lots to be thankful for. I'll try to get some pictures of all the festivities up soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

wee favorites

-Going to Belfast's oldest coffee shop for a late breakfast and enjoying the close-knit community inside, with people clanking plates and forks and sending greetings across the table. The highlight was when an older woman held up her LIGHT UP purse for all to see: it was covered with a Christmassy snowman motif that blinked brightly. She giggled, we all nodded approval and she said excitedly, "Everyone loves it!"

-The proliferation of the word "wee." I came in to the coffee shop, was asked to take a "wee" seat, was handed a "wee" menu and then a woman came to take my "wee" order. I ordered a mini fry, which I was surprised wasn't called "wee" as well.

-Going to Sawyer's, the fun international food shop. I was looking for cornbread mix or something similar, but sadly their wee American section consisted of just peanut butter and Lucky Charms. I did, however, spy an A&W rootbeer in the fridge. My sister and I used to think A&W stood for "Ashley & Whitney, " and it was always a favorite. One sip, and I was a kid at home again.

Friday, November 20, 2009

head over heels

-Having coffee with some of the girls from Fitzroy and enjoying looking out at the torrential rain outside whilst being warm and drinking something yummy inside.

-Light filtering through layered green trees and bushes. Light through trees is always holy for me, and especially so in a place where it's so rare.

-Going to the old-fashioned cobbler to have the heels of my favorite free Ferragamo's (from the Clothes Closet at Columbia) repaired. Their sign (which I must get a picture of) has a little elfin cobbler on it, and after seeing the magic wrought on my tired old boots, for only a fiver, I think they might just have one there.

-Jessi taking this picture while on a mission trip in Guatamala and tagging me in it on facebook.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

birds of a feather

-A colorful and cheery peacock on display at Botanic Primary School. The kids always do the most amazing artwork.

-Going to AM/PM for dinner with my housemates. It's this bohemian, chic, Parisian-style pub/restaurant with pink flowers blossoming on the ceiling, dramatic candles on the tables and gilded gold frames everywhere. Next time I'm in, I'll take pictures, I promise. As we walked away, I thought (with a bit of heaviness) that these are the moments and places I'll miss. You just don't get many Parisian cafes in the US.

-Cooking soup for the Nightreach students (and for my housemates and me) and just throwing in a bit of this and a bit of that and ending up with yummy chicken curry soup. I also love hibernating in the kitchen and cooking with music loudly playing, making the kitchen the warmest and most lively place to be. My housemates and I even ended up just eating in the kitchen because it was so cozy and fragrant.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

hello, old friend.

-Warm sunshine on my face.

-Being at a meeting at Starbucks (that's right, I have meetings in coffee shops as often as possible!) and seeing Ken from Mornington and having him join our conversation. What a visionary.

-Walking into the city centre to run a mundane errand and running into Brian and David from church along the way, making it much better than mundane. I think it makes me feel a part of this place when I see familiar faces on the street (or in coffee shops, as the case may be).

Monday, November 16, 2009

cinema deux

-Going to the cinema with Ruth on a terribly cold and rainy afternoon. We went to see Dirty Dancing at the amazing vip seats in the Odyssey and had reclining chairs, unlimited popcorn and drinks and the whole theater to ourselves. It was wonderful! I love the music in Dirty Dancing, and it's another of those I've never seen before on the big screen. What a change it was to go back from that warm little haven into the rain again.

-Cooking french onion soup while Jonee blared music from The Wizard of Oz as he prepared for an upcoming school concert. It was so much fun to hear the whimsical and bizarre music. Jonee commented, "Were these people on drugs when they wrote this or what?!"

-Going to a screening of For The Bible Tells Me So, a documentary looking at the relationship between the church and homosexuality through hearing the stories of several prominent Christian American families. It was really powerful, and my friend Padraig was speaking at it. At the end, he said, "I don't think Jesus is on my side. He doesn't belong to me. I can't tame him, but he has some interesting things to say." What a wise soul!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

an arm and a leg

-A couple walking arm in arm through the park.

-A pink cottonball sunset behind the dark outline of my church.

-Meeting up with Catherine at St. George's (and incidentally seeing Fiona and the Sedgewicks there too) and then going with her as she took pictures for a photography project she's doing. Her subject is a one-armed, one-legged doll her mother had in the 50's and she's taking picture of her all around town. It was a hilarious exercise, because people kept walking by as the doll was repositioned and Catherine with all the style of a Hollywood producer snapped photos. As people walked by many tried to hold in their laughter, and then just couldn't and we all laughed. There's not a lot that's more random than stumbling upon the photo shoot of a one-armed, one-legged doll. That's why it was so much fun!

-Going dancing with my fun carnival girls at the Oh Yeah! Centre, a really hip, quirky venue that turns into a club every two weeks. The crowd was wonderfully older than the usual clubs and so all the music was 80's and 90's. When I came in, Caoimhe (that's pronounced "Kieva" by the way), Suzie (the birthday girl), Denise and John all welcomed me with hugs and "Yaaaaay you're here!" and we danced the night away. John's one of the carnival drummers and I had no idea he could move like that! He's also my postman, and so at one point I turned to him and said, "You're a good dancer! You should deliver the mail like that." He quipped back, "What makes you think I don't??"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

i spy with my little eye...

-C.S. Lewis once said that all of his great ideas and thoughts came through taking a walk. I had such an experience last night. A little girl in Religious Ed asked me about how you know that God puts people first, how you know that God works in the world when you can't see God. I said that it's about faith, about believing in something even if you can't see it and about looking for God in little ways through other people. "Okay," she said with the amazing acceptance of a child. I was thinking about faith all day, and while walking it came to me that faith is seeing when you don't believe and believing when you don't see. I mean, faith is looking for God even when you're not sure God's there and believing God's there when you can't see evidence of it.

-Wearing a cozy oversized scarf to keep out the cold air.

-Coming in from the cold, swirling rain absolutely soaked and having a delightfully hot cup of mango strawberry tea.

-A really great hug.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

hey, i'm a funghi

-Delicate tiny, brown mushrooms growing along a lichen-covered tree trunk.

-Andrea bringing Chris and me lunch of sandwiches with clementines and yoghurt, all in a very first-day-of-school-appropriate tupperware container. It was so thoughtful.

-Singing Sister Act songs with girls from the youth group and thinking of my sister and how we used to sing them to each other over the phone. We all just belted out "AH-AH-AH-AHHLAAYYLOOOYAH" in the middle of the coffee shop with no shame. What fun.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

it's golden, you know.

-Reading in the Linenhall Library coffee shop and appreciating the utter silence of the place. What a change from outside. It was so quiet that I could hear each little coarse grain of sugar mingling with my winter spice tea, the clink of the spoon as I stirred and the regal dong-dong-dong of the Grandfather clock. Looking out on a glowing city hall and sitting in silence was a simple refreshment.

-My co-worker remarking to me as we compiled a report outlining our values for youth ministry, "You're on fire!"

-Spidery black branches stretching out across a wintery lavender sky. Lovely autumn seems to have left after too short a visit, and winter is here. Today, I had to put on my warm plaid flannel shirt and cozy fur-hooded sweater.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

chunks of grace

-A wonderful day at the market full of exciting things (I really do never get tired of St. George's): German visitors with Andrea and Tilmann, purple cauliflower, devil's food cupcakes, one of the church young people working at a stall and the vintage clothing lady making something just for me. I've bought a couple of things from her before and this time she had a lovely brown vest (they call it a "waistcoat" here) with brass buttons that was embroidered with a beautiful flower and embellished with orange trim. I loved it immediately, and told her so, and she replied with a smile, "I made this with you in mind." I tried it on and it was too big, but she just got her pins out and pinned it to my size, saying she'd have it ready for me next week at the market. She even gave my friend who bought a sweater a discount. How lovely is that?

-Getting on the bus and showing the driver my day ticket, only to have him react with amazement like I'd just shown him a winning lottery ticket. Enthusiasm is just wonderful.

-Going to the Crown Bar (where John Wayne filmed parts of "The Quiet Man") to meet the Germans and claiming one of the charming stage-coach-esque booths (they call it a "snug") while I was waiting for them. Some very friendly and slightly inebriated folks came and sat in it with me and we enjoyed hilarious conversation (as you might expect). When the Germans all arrived, we turned into one big, happy tri-national gathering and all parted with hugs and well-wishes at the end of the night. Tilmann said to me at one point, "I bet these are big chunks of grace for you!" I couldn't put it better myself.

Friday, November 06, 2009


-Christmas coming to the city centre of Belfast. It's really early, but without Thanksgiving, what's to stop 'em? I think the bright colorful lights and banners add a lot of warmth to such a cold place. The neon glow even makes the ever-present rain beautiful.

-Having dinner with new and old friends and deeply enjoying their company.

-A really wonderful night's rest after a really demanding day.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

dancing night and day

-Lovely light while walking to and from work: sunshine through golden trees in the morning and city light and the moon glowing at night.

-Dancing with such gusto in contemporary dance class that I spun my rubberband right out of my ponytail during a turn.

-Telling a story and doing a little shake at a funny part and realizing with joy that I have picked this little dance up up from my 18-month old niece.

Monday, November 02, 2009


It's our last day at this heavenly house, and so I took a wee dander outside accompanied by a cuppa tea and Casey to admire the charm of its garden. I love the hand-woven fence that looks like it's straight out of Braveheart, the swirly tendrils of green-tinged vines growing, bright red sticks of a shrub that are so lovely they don't need leaves and the content cat sunning herself in a window. I made a new collage/painting this weekend that is a fitting word: be. What a wonderful weekend of be-ing.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

weather permitting

-Homemade cinnamon rolls and coffee.

-Weather that calls for laziness. It's rained all day long (this is pretty common) so I just stayed in and watched Last of the Mohicans and worked on a painting.

-The way I get a little adrenaline rush when I start looking at potential calls.