Thursday, March 18, 2010

paddy, todo and freddie b

Hi everybody! I'm back (well, I've been here, but my computer's been sick and it's back). The laptop guru Andrew has my laptop virus-free and functioning better than she has in years. She's (not sure why she's a she, she just is) over 5 years old and so this for a laptop was the equivalent of a hip replacement that will keep her moving! We have a bit of catching up to do.

-I received two amazing care packages, one from my sista for St. Paddy's Day full of green goodies and adorable niece pictures and one from my grandmother full of warm caps knitted by my great-aunt Lolly. Both were so thoughtful and made me feel much closer to home (and much warmer)! My sister also made a doozy of a St. Paddy's Day blog in my honor! So great.-We had a youth retreat last weekend and had a brilliant time. There were about 30 young people and we were talking about grace all weekend. I used Ephesians a lot, a story from my time in South Africa, a clip from Amelie where she returns a middle-age man's childhood treasures to him sneakily and, of course, some wisdom from Frederick Buechner (I call him "Freddie B" in front of the kids). Here's one of the quotes I used (in addition to the one that's always on this blog):

"The grace of God means something like this: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. "

-The day after coming back from the youth retreat, I found myself Dublin-bound on an 8 am train to visit one of my dad's best friends, my Uncle Todo. He had been travelling around Ireland with a church group and they had a day off in Dublin, so I went down to meet him. We talked (a lot) about Irish/Northern Irish history, my experience here, his family, his travels, my dad and in between all that talking, we managed to have a great lunch, stop in a pub for a coke and stop again later for a cappucino and a chocolate in Butler's Chocolate Cafe. We strolled around St. Stephen's Green and at one point he turned to an older couple sitting on a bench, basking in the rare sunshine and said in his characteristically Texan drawl, "Y'aaaalll look like you're workin' reeeall hard!" I'm not sure they even understood his accent, but it made me laugh. We also went in a very upscale cigar shop on Grafton Street (Uncle Todo loves cigars) and he proceeded to pull one of his Texas-made Travis Club cigars out of his pocket and give it to the man working there, saying "Here's a little something for you to try...the only cigar made in Texas!" I guarantee that the cigar shop man had never actually been given a cigar by a customer before. That's just how Uncle Todo is. He brought me an 8 lb bag of flour tortilla mix and I've already made several. They taste just like home. Uncle Todo and my dad have been friends since they were very small and I felt like I got to know my dad in a new way by spending a day with one of his best friends. It was great.

-St. Patrick's Day was spent in the Holylands, the area around Fitzroy. There are about 7,000 students who live there, the vast majority of them Catholic, and so St. Patrick's Day is a very big deal. Last year, unfortunately, the drinking got out of control and the police came in in full riot gear to confront the students, which of course, started a riot. It was not good. But this year, we decided to be more proactive than reactive and give the students bacon sandwiches, biscuits, tea and coffee all day long to keep them a bit more sober and to show some Protestant goodwill towards St. Patrick's Day. It was a success: plenty of drunken antics and seas of green people, but no rioting or violence. Now that's a happy St. Paddy's Day in Belfast. :)


Lynn said...

I printed out the Frederick Buechner quote and taped it above my computer. Lovely. I needed a bit of an attitude adjustment this morning and that was just the glimpse of grace I needed.

Clay and Ashley said...

I just love your blog. I can SEE Uncle Todo giving that man his own cigar...I giggled. I'm sure the shop owner will never forget that :) I MISS IRELAND! Love you...AP

BeluBelloBelle said...

inspiring as well :)

like those photographs esp a group of card with baby pics .

Whitney said...

Lynn, I'm reading a Lenten devotional by Buechner and some days he really is so helpful. Hope your day's taken a turn for the best. :) We all have days where we need a little adjusting.

Sista, isn't he so funny? Wish you had been here! Love you so much...sent a wee birthday package to Nat today. They say it'll be their in 10 days, but you never know.

Thanks for visiting BBB :)

Heather said...

This is a totally random question - as protestants, do you wear orange on St. Patrick's Day? Or is wearing different colors considered too divisive since you are trying to bring reconciliation?

BTW, I love reading your blog. It reminds me to seek out joy and peace.

Whitney said...

Hi Heather,

No, Protestants definitely don't wear orange on St. Patrick's Day. Some would just not celebrate it. The only time orange might be worn is on July 12, a Protestant holiday, when the Orangemen (who are a Protestant group who celebrate Protestant/British history) wear orange sashes and march in parades. The division isn't reflected in wearing different colors much at all, it's more reflected in whether people see St. Patrick as part of their heritage and faith or not. But, many Protestants here celebrate St. Patrick too.

Servant of the Most High said...


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Heather said...


That's interesting. There was a man in our church when I was growing up who insisted that we should wear orange on St. Patrick's Day because we were protestant. But I never really knew anyone who could confirm or deny that before. Thanks.