Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Adventure begins

You might know that every year a few of us organise a Preparing for Advent morning about now. Some craft, some cookery, some reflections- space really, to raise your altar before the madness begins.
Well, this year we are all just a bit wrecked for lots of different reasons, good and bad. The plan was to take a break completely, but the wonderful Catherine, about whom I often eulogise, decided, "Let's make Christmas wreaths. In your house."
So, we did! Just a very few of us. With very little preparation on my part. Actually no preparation on my part. Catherine brought fabulous cinnamon buns, Rosemary brought fabulous poetry, and everyone brought boughs and berries and great generosity of spirit.
It was lovely. Marking the start of the season ready to light the light as each week passes, and the road to Bethlehem winds on.
My Jo nipped in after his two hour revision session with Prince Charming in the room next door. He is my creative guru. These are our Advent wreaths.
I cannot tell you how it pleased my heart when he not only wore Catherine's wreath on demand, but also knew that he looked just like the Ghost of Christmas Present- and he is even wearing that jolly man's green! That tiny baby in the photo behind him is him, nearly exactly twelve years ago.
Jo's sweatshirt says "Adventure begins", and I thought how very appropriate. In the midst of all the stresses and strains to catch the joy in the journey that opens up now. In October I was floored by the last question on our church's retreat day:
I feel today, at the start of this Advent that I will raise Ebenezers this year, remembering all that God has done for me, all that He has done for me, and be bold enough to ask Him for what I want him to do for me again.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

For Your Tomorrow...









 Now, let me make my poppy position clear. As with all else in Northern Ireland, it becomes as divisive as the way you pronounce the letter "h" or as the way you answer the question, "Where did you go to school?" With this year being the centenary of both the Somme and the Easter Rising, you can imagine which event was claimed by each set of hard-line defenders of culture, heritage and identity. And I'm not particularly interested in belonging to either one of them, thank you very much. I find this day and these rememberings just as painfully poignant as anyone else. I have, with my army childhood rooted in The Troubles, just as many reservations about our dealing with the past as the next forty-something Northern Irish native. As a mother, I work hard at discussing all of it with as much good sense and faith perspective as I can muster.

However, when our Hookery group was asked by the council to produce two installations to mark the Somme centenary in our local Mossley Mill and the council offices in Antrim, I did crochet my little heart out. Admittedly my thirteen poppies were but a small offering towards the 282 we needed to symbolise twice the 141 days of the Battle of the Somme. It was undeniably moving to watch the huge pile of individual poppies on the table come together into a collective whole, twice! All the different patterns and shades and textures becoming on vibrant flower, twice. For me it represented more even than the 420,000 individual lives lost in one huge and bloody whole. On a much smaller, but more hopeful, scale it depicted what our Hookery group is for me. Individual women coming together with their different ages, stages, worries, joys, stories, and forming one very warm, very lovely, very supportive whole.

Heather Boss' account of the poppies is over on the Hookery blog. The two pieces are called: For Your Tomorrow and They Gave Their Today. I am so sorry to all who have and to all who do and to all who will.  That we should live in such a world as this.