Friday, April 30, 2010

"All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful."
~Flannery O'Connor

Thursday, April 29, 2010

i see trees of green

-Driving with Dorothy by Botanic Gardens and commenting that the trees were so beautiful and vibrant. She replied, "There really are 40 shades of green aren't there?"

-Coming downstairs to discover that Jonee put a ticket to a play I want to see on the steps for me. So nice.

-Calling the primary school to ask what they wanted me to do an assembly on this week and them responding with "the world." Through laughter I said, "Ok, no problem, should be able to cover all that in 15 minutes!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


-Having a meeting postponed until next week, meaning that a night that would've been rushed was suddenly opened up. I made Karen's wonderful chicken and black bean tacos (with homemade tortillas! yeeeehaw), did a bit of cleaning, caught the second half of Tristan and Isolde and made it to bed early with a cup of rooibos tea.

-My ladies Bible study met yesterday and they were just so enthusiastic and engaged. With about 5 decades of an age difference between us, I'm so honored that they want to hear what I have to say and that I can learn from them.

-Seagulls calling outside my window, making me feel like I'm on a beach vacation.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

well, aren't you funny?

-A delightful lunch with Ruth at Made in Belfast made even more so by the presence of famous British comedian Jimmy Carr at the next table. It added a little excitement to our usual catching up.

-Laughing really, really hard.

-A sunny afternoon warm enough for me to sit outside Common Grounds and read.

Friday, April 23, 2010

something new and something old that's blue

-Sheena wanted to show me her favorite artist/jeweler/jeweller in Comber and she bought me some amazing earrings made from what I think are metal images from an old English transit bus. They're so quirky and one-of-a-kind, I just love them! She does all of the silver work herself too, which is just so impressive.

-The "flesher"or butcher that looks like it could be straight out of the 1950's but is still in operation. I wonder if Mr. McWhinney ever looks at the building as he opens up in the morning and sees how lovely it is with its sea blue mosaic and hand-painted, peeling sign. I bet he does.

-After dance, Denise and I decided to get a pizza at a place near where we both live ("They're real Italians!") and we sat in her house devouring an impressive amount of pizza and chatting.

Monday, April 19, 2010

don't stop believing

-Finding the perfect periwinkle blue scarf.

-Catching up with Tom over lunch and talking about life transitions, calls, expansive theology and even how much we adore coffee.

-A little boy walking down the street with his Mom loudly singing, "Don't stop believin', hold on to that feeeeeeling..." I'm pretty sure he thinks Glee invented the song, not Journey, but it was great to hear.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

a walk in the woods

-It was a lovely, sunny Saturday and my housemate Jonee and I went walking through the Cregagh Glen and it was so refreshing to just breathe fresh air, see sunlight on bright green grass, white flowers blooming together and trees arching overhead like inviting tunnels to hobbiton.
-Then, we went to see the docks where the Titanic was built here in Belfast. Above is where the Titanic was built and stored until its fateful journey. As I stood there in utter silence, I tried to imagine a ship that large and the tragedy that occurred. It really did feel like a heavy place.

-Sunlight illuminating a cloud so brightly that Jonee exclaimed as he pointed at it (we were in his convertable on one of the rare days the top can be down), "Oh, wow, take a picture!"

-A Sunday full of thoughtful and engaging prayers, remarkable recitations of scripture with no notes whatsoever, music to connect me with God and my sense of calling and simple, articulate wisdom on the heart of the gospel. Fitzroy really is a talented place.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

roma here, roma there

-A little Roma girl at the primary school seeing me outside and rushing to me, throwing her arms around my legs in a big hug and then looking up with a grin and saying "Hiii!".

-Exciting things in the works.

-Our Romania Mission Trip Team meeting was last night and it was so much fun. We were talking about how important it is to think about how we go about sharing our faith and ourselves with people and letting them share with us and we gave them scenarios they would face and they had to create skits to show how they would show love in that situation. The night was honest, vulnerable, hilarious, encouraging and energizing. It's going to be a great trip.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

little miss sunshine

-Passing by beautiful, delicate, little yellow flowers as I walk to the office.

-A well-timed text from Catherine: "sending love and sunshine your way." Such a great friend.

-Waking up from a bad dream with my heart pounding and seeing chinks of light coming in through the slightly open window and hearing birdsong drift in with the breeze. It was 5am, but the days are getting much longer and so the sun (and the birds) are up much earlier. I drifted back off to sleep relaxed.

Monday, April 12, 2010

sermonating and the sea

Apologies for not blogging lately! I have lots to share, though. Last week, I went away for a couple of days to Articlave, near Castlerock where I was before, with my friend Ri to stay in her friend's holiday home. It was just a time to read, cook and go to the beach and as things are really quiet here over Easter, I enjoyed being able to get away. There are lots of pictures of grace found there below.

Also, I preached this past Sunday and decided to wear my clerical collar. My text was Jairus' daughter and the hemorrhaging woman. It was fascinating to discover some of the Greek text and how shocking it really is and try to strip away some of the sanitized way we read familiar texts. We talked about this concept in the text of being made well, and I began by sharing a story of my time as a chaplain at Grady Hospital in Atlanta where a family were praying for the healing of their son at the same moment I had to tell them he didn't survive. Then, I told the congregation that in the reading of our text, we weren't going to glean any easy answers out of it that we wouldn't tell that family in the midst of their grief. So we entered into the text again, and ended with questions, not answers, but I think discovered something about the profound presence of God in suffering. It was a great Sunday.

-This is the fairy tree in the back garden of the house we stayed in. It's called a fairy tree because it would've been the tree in the middle of the field before it was developed, and it's considered bad superstition to cut it down (don't want to bring the wrath of fairies on you!) and that's why with fencing all around it, the tree's still standing. So interesting!

-I love the rolling grass on Irish hills that makes it look like a big, furry, sleeping animal.

-Seeing a familiar sign at a house for sale a couple of doors down from the house we stayed in.

-If the tree in the back garden is a fairy tree, I think this must be a gnome or troll tree with all its green lichen and knobbly arms.

-I love seeing ruins, it reminds me of the history in this place and also off when my family came to visit when I was here before and we drove through the hills yelling "RUUIIINNNSS!" whenever someone spotted some.

-The beautiful sight of angled cliffs and the silvery sea behind.

-Ri and I discovered a cave below a cliff face and I felt like a kid exploring a foreign world of cold rock and water dripping with plinks and plunks.

-Watching the waves roll and tumble into the shore with the sun on my face. I love Mussendun Temple in the background on the cliff (and you can see it closer in the next pictures).

And now, the sun is shining and it seems that spring might have finally come to Belfast. It's wonderful!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine

Happy Easter!!
Oh, I'm so glad it's Easter. Here are a couple of adorable lambs I met at St. George's Market yesterday. I'm pretty sure they're somehow related to my sister's dog, Hayden...
Wishing you all a blessed and joyful Easter. As Frederick Buechner's been reminding me that God's been with me through my Lenten journey, it's just fitting to share a bit more of him today. Here's the Good News of the resurrection from Freddie B:
"Love is the victor. Death is not the end. The end is life. His life and our lives through him, in him. Existence has greater depths of beauty, mystery and benediction than the wildest visionary has ever dared to dream. Christ our Lord has risen."


Friday, April 02, 2010

good Friday

-Seeing my housemate Jonee in his play at the Waterfront. It was called "Over the Bridge" and is about sectarian tension in Belfast shipyards in the 50's during the IRA Border Campaign. It was painful, raw, redemptive and, beginning and ending with a hymn sung, it somehow to me conveyed the God who is bigger than sectarian violence in God's name.

-Seeing a video of some of the kids from church dancing to "Nooma, Nooma" during our Easter Party last week. It's absolutely hilarious, and great to see Roma kids dancing with them.

-Texting back and forth to my Mom and feeling a bit closer to home.

-I can't believe it's already Good Friday. This Lent has really been a journey of discernment and attempts at patience, and I can't wait for Easter. I'm going to a Good Friday service at St. Anne's Cathedral (also called the "Belfast Cathedral") this afternoon to contemplate the last three hours of Jesus' life. Frederick Buechner had some good things to say about Good Friday:

I believe that by dying [Jesus] released into the world an entirely new kind of life, his kind of life, that has flowed down through the tragic centuries like water through a dry land, making alive and whole all who will only kneel to drink. That is the only reason it is not blasphemy to speak of the Friday of his unspeakable death as Good Friday.