Sunday, 20 March 2022

Lent 3


I have a friend who shared a story on facebook, and now I'm noticing letters all over the house.
The story was about a little girl who is found repeating the alphabet but the way she is saying it sounds like prayer,
And the person, maybe her mum or somebody else in the house, asks why she's praying the alphabet.
Then the girl explains that she doesn't know what to pray, so she has decided to pray the alphabet and let God work out the words.

Which sounds like a genius plan to me this Lent, and a little bit like Romans 8:26. And now I'm noticing letters all over the house, and the words that they get formed into, somehow, magically, wondrously!

Saturday, 19 March 2022

High Lands

 I didn't post my photos of half-term in Scotland with Catherine and then Jacqueline, my oldest and my newest friends. I was still warming up for a while and then the world broke. But here are some remembered moments of high places and wide places in case you need to look at something different this weekend. And chickens! (And thank you - Prince Charming is much better and back at work. We are very grateful x)

Monday, 14 March 2022

Covid 1

Prince Charming has just emerged from his turret after eleven days of either Omicron or BA.2, who knows anymore? He doesn't have hair long enough to get him down from the window, and the only succour from his princess in shining armour was an occasional tray at the door. He had to shield in the first Lockdown, so we are immensely thankful that pain and tiredness were as serious as it got.
Downstairs life went on, with everything pared back to the bare minimum. Which is lovely enough when the bare minimum still involves heat and light and food and water and quietness on tap. I was chatting to a girl in school today about the news and about where she found her hope. We both agreed that tea is often enough.
You could get annoyed, I suppose, that the best a son could do was your school water flask when a friend leaves you flowers. But then again, here we all are together and the best that we can do at any given moment is all there is, and there's such joy in knowing that you've been given the best that someone can do.

Praying that our Ukranian brothers and sisters will be blessed with the best that friends and families and kind strangers and generous hosts all over Europe can do x

Sunday, 6 March 2022


Oh dear. So, to clarify, I got to Scotland (where it was really very cold!) and got back, and ended up covering for our sixth form study supervisor for two weeks which annoyed my Head of Department, and war broke out in Europe? And Lent started.

I opened my Bible randomly this week because I was feeling so adrift. Joel 2 with its startlingly modern description of an army moving with devastation through a land. But also with its startlingly Lenten call to return. My boys have me signed up to the YouVersion Bible app that sends me a verse a day, and today it was from Joel 2 too. So, I'm going to sit in Joel 2 for a while longer, with fasting (from black tea) and weeping and mourning.

I've had John Donne's words in my head all these awful days. I've shared them before, and I hope he wouldn't mind if I borrow them again.

No Man Is an Island

No man is an island,

Entire of itself;

Every man is a piece of the continent, 

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less,

As well as if a promontory were:

As well as if a manor of thy friend's

Or of thine own were.

Any man's death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.

Monday, 14 February 2022

A game in two

We are in the Mourne mountains for a few days over half-term. Weather-wise today has definitely been a game in two halves! I have only once in my life been as wet in the hills as we all got today. And that first time was a New Year's Day, not the middle of pretend Spring!
Matt and I turned back and let the tallest and the youngest plough on for a spot of caving. And then as soon as we parted ways, the sun came out to stay!
I thought I'd be here until Wednesday which would give me time to wash and dry all my walking gear before heading to Scotland to stay with two friends, but then a weather warning of strong winds was published and all my outgoing plans fell into disarray.
So in fact I leave tomorrow to fly to an airport still quite far from where I want to be, to catch a train to a town closer to where I want to be, to catch another train to a smaller town much closer to where I want to be, and there, hopefully, will be a friendly face to gather me up!

This will be my first time in an airplane since these times of plague, and Northern Ireland is lifting all its restrictions tomorrow. For a convert to reclusivity, this is a stretch. Thus far x


Monday, 7 February 2022

Arboreally ironic

 No, I'm not sure if that is a word either. I'm running out of words, and we're not even into double digits of February. Today's word was 'arboreal' and I knew in my mind that I wanted it to be all about Psalm 1: planted by streams of water, bearing fruit wherever appropriate. But in the back of my mind was the growing panic that after tomorrow, there are only two words on the list (except for one that I'm saving for half-term). 

So, there I was earlier, doodling away about putting my roots down deep into words, knowing fine rightly that I haven't read a thing since January and you can't drink from an empty cup. Isn't that the expression? If somebody has a good word for that, do let me know tout de suite!

So, I am somewhat abashed as I trail upstairs to bed now. And I am taking my Bible and 'Leaving for America' with me. So far in 'Leaving for America' nobody actually goes to America. I'm also beginning to wonder if there really is anybody living next door to his big house, or if there is even a big house at all next door to his big house.

I'm teaching in school at the minute, instead of supporting teaching. Our fourth teacher out of a department of nine has tested positive. I'm a bit slaughtered. You can probably tell. So much for my glorious white space of January. Here's a tree, an aspirational tree, an arboreally ironic aspirational tree. Normal service may be resumed shortly.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022


 Last Friday in work, one of our English teachers was telling me about an article she'd recently read in the Guardian. You have to read it; it's so good. It declares that after two years of the last two years, we all need some 'funtervention', and it's up to us to decide what that means. Connecting, limiting the good things before they enslave us (which speaks directly into this house's current obsession with episodes of Grey's Anatomy), picking up a dusty guitar - whatever it takes to help us through the times when "the void within yourself becomes manifest". 

The thing that had captured HR's imagination was the concept of The Daily Delight. Catherine Price, the author of the article, said we needed to find something fun, something light-hearted every day to make us smile. Something to spark a bit of joy - something deliberately sought and carefully cherished.

Now, I thought this was all very lovely, but I didn't really take it much on board, until I was driving to work on Monday morning. There on the footpath, pedalling along at a purposeful speed was a man on a bike on the footpath. I think it was a man. It was hard to tell because his whole upper body was completely encased in the hugest, fluffiest, plumpest teddy bear that you could possibly be thinking of right now. I could not wait to get into work to tell HR!

Then, on Tuesday morning, when I dropped Jo off at the side entrance to the university, all the daffodils had come out overnight. They were definitely not there the morning before.

And today, well! Today, numerically but without the zeros, today was 2/2/22. Fabulous!

And it really is quite nice having a daily delight! 

Another nice thing that has been happening to me over the last month is the appearance of very interesting words. Some I've known; some I've had to look up. I started making a list. Then, because I have a writer friend in Scotland who is very inspiring and also kind, I was told decided that I would try to write something about one of my words every day for this month. It has been quite fun thus far!

If you'd like to see my words, I'm putting them into a facebook page for my friend. If you're on facebook, you just search for Margaret Elizabeth, and maybe there they'll be! And here's today's x

Lent 3

  I have a friend who shared a story on facebook, and now I'm noticing letters all over the house. The story was about a little girl who...