Monday, September 28, 2009

There and back again

Panasonic LX1, 5 images @ f5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO 80, (click to enlarge)

Panasonic LX 1, f4.5, 1/250, ISO 80, 28mm equivalent, (click to enlarge)

We had a very enjoyable weekend going over to Llanelli for my Aunt and Uncle's Golden Wedding Anniversary. It was great to see them and many other family members, some of whom I had not seen since I was a toddler! It was lovely to wake up on a Sunday morning, initially in a panic about getting ready for church- is the sermon ready, what to mention in the prayers etc. and then remember that it was not for me to worry about on this, one of my precious four Sundays off per year.

Happy childhood memories were rekindled as we took a walk around Burry Port harbour yesterday afternoon. The places where I built many sandcastles and went hunting for cockles with my Nanna and Grandad just the same as they always had been. Looking down onto the sands I could almost see myself thirty years earlier digging and building away in childhood reverie...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I'm seeing if i can post a blog message from my mobile phone. It's very tricky (for me at least).

Putting down roots

Nikon D70s, f10, 1/16 sec, ISO 200, 28mm equivalent (click to enlarge)

Our favourite tree is one that we grew from an acorn brought back by my stepfather from Canada. It is a Red Oak or Quercus Rubra (please feel free to correct me on that one). We planted it first of all in a small pot and it has graduated every couple of years to increasingly larger pots as it slowly but surely matured. Now we have it in an old wooden barrel that's been sawn in two (the kind you find in any garden centre). I doubt we could find a bigger pot so it is going to have to be planted soon.

Here's the thing. When it's planted that is it, no more moving. It will literally put down its roots until the day eventually comes (hopefully several generations in the future) when a storm, or disease or a need for it to be chopped down comes. What will the world be like then?! The tree has moved as we have moved house and in the same way that it has only partially put down roots so have we, settling but always in the knowledge that it will not be permanent, that the time will come, don't know when, but it will come that we shall be on the move again.

One of our dreams is to have our own place, a small cottage somewhere to escape to. I would be happy to plant our tree there...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Harmony of Black and White at Harvest

Panasonic LX1, f4.9, 1/500 sec, ISO 80, 14.4mm (click to enlarge)

I had the great pleasure last Sunday of being invited to the Harvest Thanksgiving service in Mallow, north Co. Cork. Now you would be forgiven for thinking that this might be a very rural and very traditional parish and of course, in some ways, it is. What they have managed to do though is something quite special. In the past few years, a number of Nigerian families have moved to the town and have got involved in the church. The Rector made the very canny move of appointing one of them as church warden and has expertly involved them in all sorts of ways in the life of the parish. The singing is phenomenal. With colourful clothes and infectious smiles our African brothers and sisters have brought a level of joy and celebration that is seldom seen in most parts of the Church of Ireland. My favourite part was the presentation of gifts, where several families danced up the aisle bringing baskets of fruit and other produce to the front of the church to thank God for all His blessing and provision. What is wonderful too is how this has all been warmly welcomed by those who have attended this church all their lives. I was happy to join in too - my clapping maybe not quite in time and my voice not quite in tune and my body not quite in rhythm but the whole experience made me more grateful for the harvest (and all God's blessings) than I had been for quite some time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dromantine and Arrow

Entrance to Dromantine Conference Centre, Co. Down
Panasonic LX1, f3.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 80, 28mm equivalent (click to enlarge)

Last Thursday I 'popped up' to a place called Dromantine just north of Newry for the introductory day of the Arrow Leadership Course that I have just started. Leaving Cork at 4.30 am and returning home just before 9.00 pm, and driving 740 km, it was a long day but well worth it. The Arrow course is just what I need - in a nutshell it is:
"To be led more by Jesus
To lead more like Jesus
To lead more to Jesus".

Sounds pretty good to me!

Friday, September 11, 2009

We're moving Parish - initial thoughts...

Well I don’t know how to write it so I'll just put the words down as they come to me. We are moving. Yes, I can’t believe it, but this place which has become our home we will soon be saying farewell to. It is exciting but it is also very sad to be leaving behind such a wonderful bunch of people. It was hard to phone parishioners and tell them the news, folk who have been there for me and my family in so many ways over the past six and a half years that we have had the privilege to be here.

But do you know what, I never felt so appreciated in my work as when I made the phone calls. People reminded me of weddings, baptisms, funerals (oh there have been so many, too many of those) and other high and low points in their lives where I had some privileged access or responsible part to play. To be involved in so many lives, often in very painful, stressful or joyous times is an incredible (here’s that word again) privilege.

It’s impossible therefore not to get really attached to people and so it will be very hard to say good bye. What can you do though, when you feel with such clarity in your spirit that it is time for a move? When God is so clearly leading, one is compelled to follow.

As we move west to Kilgariffe Union (Clonakilty) we will be sad, but we will also be very excited at a new beginning, so many opportunities ahead, new people to get to know, a new home to live in and all the many minute changes to every day life that on their own don’t amount to much but put all together form a quite different life to the one that was lived before.

I’m sure I will read over this tomorrow and not understand a word I wrote, but this is a big thing for me and my family and it’s going to take some getting used to. To be both sad and excited at the same time is a strange feeling...

Monday, September 7, 2009

To open the door

Panasonic LX1, 1/50 sec, f2.8, +0.1 EV, ISO 80, 28mm equivalent (click to enlarge)

I was delighted recently to unearth a copy of “Prayer” by Ole Hallesby in the second-hand section of a Christian Bookshop. It’s one of those books that has for a long time been in my mind to read because it is so often quoted by other Christian authors, especially in books on prayer.

Usually when I pick up a book and get going with it I have a pen to hand so that I can mark sentences or ideas that resonate with me. I might have to take a different approach here though as there would little else but pen marks on the first few pages!

I really like this bit on page 10:

“The results of prayer, therefore, are not dependent upon the powers of the one who prays. His intense will, his fervent emotions or his clear comprehension of what he is praying for are not the reasons why his prayers will be heard and answered. No! God be praised, the results of prayer are not dependent upon these things! To pray is nothing more that to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting Him to exercise His own power in dealing with them.”

Great words from Dr. Ole.