Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Pause in Lent, at Corrymeela

This is a short section of a queue of over one hundred people queuing for their Sunday lunch at the weekend! To the left of the shot is the dining room and to the right is the entrance to Corrymeela, Ballycastle. Prince Charming, the strawberries and I first went to Corrymeela with just such a group as this- a church family enjoying time away together, three generations all catered for and enjoying blissfully fabulous weather.

I was there as a Community member, on Cover Duty for the weekend. I usually go on Presence Duty, as this mostly involves giving people tours, drinking lots of tea with them, having interesting conversations with people from all over the world and all over its opinions, and then getting out your crochet.

This weekend, however, I: sorted out two heating issues, made tea and coffee and juice and biscuits for 168 people inside the space of an hour, helped an older lady who was feeling poorly, discovered in the process that the wheelchair is in the lift and thus the code for the lift, filled in many, many accident report forms, gave out many, many ice-packs and comforted many, many children (not necessarily in that order), did one tour, explained the community to everyone who asked, and thankfully avoided sorting the fire alarm because Night Cover had taken over, though I did have to rouse two impossible to rouse strawberries and get us all out of the building!

You can imagine, then, that as I arrived to lead Evening Worship on Saturday night I hadn't had much time to prepare! Earlier in the day the wonderful Barbara, half of the centre's resource couple had lent me a copy of the centre's Evening Liturgies. It now became clear to me why I hadn't been able to read past this sentence in the second paragraph of the first page:

All words are inadequate; we use them tentatively.

Corrymeela is not summed up in words. It is summed up in the resident volunteer who saw the cover person flop down at her dinner table, populated entirely by children , two of whom were hers, all stoked on Lemon Fanta procured at the vending machine on the proceeds of coins counted from their mothers' purses. This volunteer saw that there was no jug of water on the table before the exhausted cover person realised this herself. By the time the cover person had dragged herself back off her bench, negotiated three bins and a room full of 102 Baptists and got to the tap on the other side of the dining room, this volunteer had a jug of water ready and set it into the cover person's hands with a kind and knowing smile.

Preach the Gospel. Use words if you must!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Views of camellias

 We've been aware of a hint of pink in the top corner of the garden for more than a week, but when we went to investigate we were quite amazed. This camellia bush must have been in flower just before we moved in last year, because we certainly didn't see it then. The pink wool that I bought on Monday is to try a little capture of its finery for my Spring wreath- as yet unstarted!

Below, however, is something mostly finished. Today is Mum's birthday. It's very special to be celebrating her second birthday post-stroke, They have recently had their everything recovered in a most modern tartan- green with brown and white stripes. I used Cute and Easy's camellia pattern and did a 7x10 sleep-under-while-snoozing-on-the-sofa blanket. The wool is Rico merino aran. The crocheting astute among you will realise immediately that this needed another row to finish off the two row repeat! So it's not quite finished, and it's not at all edged!

Mum likes it though. And that's a big relief!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Owed to Spring

Oh, I know. There were so many other things that I should have done on a totally gratuitous day off school today. At least four of you must be guts for garters with me in mind. And I didn't even show you the most incredible giveaway that Simone gave away to me last week. I'll use her photo because mine would never do it justice. I have it in my schoolbag for random acts of celebration. Thank you, Simone. I'm still delighting in its beauty.

I'm going to suggest that my gay (can I till use that word in that sense?) abandon of the to-do list is owed entirely to Spring. This is where I was today, instead of being efficient. There were lambs and daffodils and many, many balls of wool. I bought two- balls of wool. Now I have three little shamrocks all ready for tomorrow, when I shall look at my to-do list. Promise...

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Pause in Lent

I didn't blog my Pause last week. I couldn't actually blog my Pause last week, and I don't have Angela's good excuse of an injured wrist. I have really no excuse at all. Except the slightly messy story that I am going to try to tease out of my messy head just now!

I have been able to keep up all Delia's readings so far. The passages in the book have come on amazingly apt days, covering car disasters and a wobbly time of illness.And then it happened. I got to the weeks on repentance and on listening to God's word. One of the last passages was from Hebrews 4: For the word of God... penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

A while ago I bought a new paring knife. It was very, very sharp. I was chopping onions for my brother's birthday lunch later in the day and was thinking how very, very sharp the knife was, and how fabulous it was to be chopping onions with my new, very, very sharp knife, when yes, you knew, I realised that the top of my thumb was also beautifully sliced. But what I couldn't understand was how little pain I felt. Admittedly when the nurse had lifted it all up to check for onion residue, that was not pleasant. Afterwards though I was able to get to Sunday School on time, finish making the birthday lunch, and even spend the evening at the Summer Madness festival. I'm still slightly afraid of the knife.

This feeling, however, of having my soul and spirit sliced by words sharper than a double edged sword, than a Marks and Spencer paring knife. This feeling hurts. This rooting around in the grumpy sin of my life is not comfortable, not happy, not easy, not meek and mild; this is Jesus in the desert requiring obedience.

The annoying thing is that the part of my life that needs sorted isn't even spectacularly significant to anybody else. I keep wondering how much more God would have to say to me about spectacularly significant things if He didn't have to waste time on my grumpy messiness. But He has been pointing out to me for two whole weeks now that my attitude is wrong. Thankfully He hasn't gone away! The problem is that I keep skim reading through the difficult bits, virtually holding the book at arm's length to maintain safe distance. Although that last bit might be somewhat explained by middle-aged eyes...

There were two whole days on the Prodigal Son. Help me. A whole day on the grumpy brother. I'm about to get out my notebook and lay it all out on a page. I don't want to harden my heart, but my heart is hard.

I hope you're all much braver than me! These last readings started with Isaiah 30: Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Delia's translation has the last line as: Happy are all who hope in him.

I'm off to do some hoping!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Some views, of small pleasures

 Goodness, is that another week nearly done? It's been  fair to medium on our Richter scale here. Lots of bright blue days with some tangible heat from the sun. I pathetically can't remember which day was so lovely and so mellow that I was struck by many small pleasures, but here are some them! Below is my private nut cupboard.
 Our friend whose painting has taken off recently gave us one which he said wasn't very good. I'm delighted that he doesn't like it because we most certainly do! It's a view of the tiny "village" of Portbradden which nestles in a corner at the foot of the North Coast's cliffs. If you scramble round the rocks at low tide you come to the sweeping sands of White Park Bay. We have atmospheric photos of the boys playing cricket in fading evening light below those same cliffs, and stayed one weekend with my parents in the end cottage of the fishermen's terrace.
 This week has been a week of finally putting things on walls. Goaded by the fact that we have been here very nearly one whole year, we resolved not to argue over what went where, but just to do it. So we did. Mostly.
 In the process I found a little stand that now holds Mattman's art leaf. I didn't find any batteries for the clock. It worked when we got it. It was an engagement present in 1997....
 The landing avec tableaux. It makes quite a difference! The place feels much more like home. We should have made more of an effort before this. "We" probably should have made more of an effort to put "our" dressing gown away as well.
 So to today's view. Rainy, grey and cold. I was reading Dormouse's blog this week and she described March as a false lover. That's definitely an Irish March.
And here are definitely some Irish musicians: two harpists and a guy on pipes. In a pub. In the city centre. Yes, I was out last night- midweek on a school night on my own! Well, not really on my own , but with a friend. The storytelling session we wanted to hear was all full up so we went to a bar I've been longing to see for ages.
It's in one of Belfast's old, old warehouses and when you walk past all you can see is a scaffold of old, old beams going up three floors. We were pleasantly surprised to find at the back a very cosy room with open peat fire and sofas right beside the harps and pipes.
The Dirty Onion. Oh go. It is a delight. And when we tried again we managed to slip into the storytelling session across the road as well.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Pause in Lent

We have had a fairly amazing time this week with Lent readings. (The red lentils are part of a different Lent anecdote that you can read here, if you really have absolutely nothing better to do.) It's been a week to make me flick back through my Lent notebook and check that God is actually doing what I think He is doing. And He is!

Back in 2010 I was overwhelmed by the sense that, on sitting down at all to reflect on Him in Lent, He was already there. He was already there for me. I remembered that last Thursday when Delia quoted Jeremiah 29,

When you seek me, you shall find me, when you seek me with all your heart; I will let you find me.

One day into Lent in 2010 I had an enormous bill to pay for a catalogue of disasters with my car. Needless to say it was all sorted. Painfully! But sorted. On Monday of last week, Prince Charming realised he would have an enormous bill to pay for a car disaster. Delia quoted Isaiah 55,

Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come!

On Tuesday of this week, health issues in the house. Delia quoted Isaiah 43,

Do not be afraid for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are mine. Should you pass through the sea, I will be with you; or through rivers, they will not swallow you up.

Interestingly our minister has just sent this very same passage home for PC to look up.

So what I think God is doing is waiting for us to come to Him, because he has Delia and ministers and friends, and His Word all ready and waiting. Many, many instruments of encouragement and instruction and reassurance. He will let us find Him. In His desert, regardless of setbacks and worries, we can come home.

Happy St Patrick's Day!

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