Archive for September, 2012

September 25, 2012

Garden life and colour

Some recent pictures from the garden…

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…

(Genesis 1:31a)

September 17, 2012

Give us this day our daily bread

Photo:  ‘The Alternative Bread Company’, English Market, Cork.  (Photo on Flickr here.)

It all started with a trip to the dentist. The week before he had warned me that for my next visit I was going to be sat in the chair for about an hour and a half.  With this not particularly welcome bit of news there was an up side – I had a few days to think about what I could do with my time in that chair.  My first thought was to listen to music via headphones but I needed to be able to hear what the dentist had to say so that was not an option. I eventually decided to try and (silently!) pray the Lord’s prayer instead, not just say it through a hundred times, but to pray it through once, spending time on each line, mulling the words over, what they meant, their implications and so on. Well I have to say that it was the best time I have ever spent in the dentists chair! With my mouth numbed because of the anesthetic and my eyes closed, I hardly noticed the horrendous drilling, filing and general carpentry going on in the workshop that was my mouth. Instead I found myself marveling at God ‘our Father’, with a name that was very ‘hallowed’, and so on. When I got to ‘thy kingdom come’, I felt like I could have gone on and on indefinitely; ‘thy kingdom come… into my life, Sonja’s life, our boys, then wider and wider outwards to, family, friends, neighbours, strangers, events and people in the news, even the dentist and his assistant!

Of all the lines, it was ‘give us this day our daily bread’, that I mulled over the most.  For so many people, poverty is a gruelling, grinding, daily reality; they do not have enough daily bread because people in wealthy countries (like me) have too much and hoard too much rather than give it away. I think it all ties in well with ‘thy kingdom come’; in many ways the advancement (or not) of God’s kingdom is in some ways entirely up to us (a scary thought).

When I got home I was looking for a book on the shelves in the study when my eyes caught another book altogether – I had completely forgotten about it and it is one that I have never read since picking it up at a second-hand stall a number of years ago.  It’s called “Praying the Lord’s Prayer” by Terry Virgo.  In the chapter entitled Give us today our daily bread, he writes:

If God’s highest gift is his Son, what’s his most basic gift?  Couldn’t it be ‘our daily bread’?  The two are extremes.  Surely God is telling us that if he’s willing to give us both the most precious and the most common things, he is more than wiling to supply us with everything in between.

Perhaps I realise now more than I ever did previously that EVERYTHING is a gift from God.  It is easy to see eternal life as a gift (for what else could it be?) But what about every breath, every heartbeat, every person with whom we come into contact, each and every day, each meal, indeed everything in this world and in this life that is good being a gift from God?  It is wonderful and liberating to know that none of the things I have are really mine anyway, they all belong to God, and I am learning (albeit slowly) that that really is the best way for it to be…

September 9, 2012

A ‘Soft Day’.

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If the Eskimos have many different words to describe snow, so here in West Cork there are many words to describe the numerous types of rain that we enjoy in this part of the world. One of my favourites was stated by a wise old farmer who greeted me earlier today with the words:

Grand soft day.

And that was it, no more needed to be said. The rain today was not heavy, it was not that awful sideways stuff that blows in off the Atlantic, it was gentle, misty and slightly swirling; in a word it was most definitely ‘soft’.
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I had been invited to come along ‘and show my face’ at a vintage threshing day near Pedlar’s Cross (halfway between Clonakilty and Bandon). Although I brought my camera with me I left it I the car (due to my not wanting to expose it to the ‘soft’ conditions). So I only had the iPhone to take pictures with.
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I really love these community events, enjoyed by all ages, farmers and non-farmers alike. There is something here for everyone to enjoy and appreciate and everyone has time to talk, whether it’s about the weather, the price of milk, the hurling final or anything you like.

A grand soft day it was.

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September 5, 2012

Walking at the edge of the world

Last Saturday we joined with a sizeable number of others taking part in the annual Sheep’s Head walk for Christian Aid. The “Sheep’s Head” is a peninsula in West Cork jutting out twenty one kilometres into the Atlantic Ocean and is only four kilometres across at its widest point. It is a truly spectacular location. We started from and finished at Kilcrohane Community Centre, with a very enjoyable walk along the way.

We soon found ourselves up at about 300m above sea level and the views were spectacular. Then what so often happens anywhere along the West coast of Ireland happened – the clouds and mist started to roll in off the sea.

But the light remained bright, so even though we were walking in cloud and fog, the visibility remained good. Just occasionally the veil was lifted and a swirling gap of light presented the opportunity to take a picture of the wonderful and vast scape of land and sea. At times it was hard to see where the sky, sea and land met each other, such was the wonderful array and trickery of the light.

Of course the whole point of the walk was to raise money for Christian Aid. Andrew Coleman and his team of volunteers had (as they always do) done an excellent job of organising the day and making it enjoyable for all ages and walking abilities. In brief but powerful words, Canon Patrick Hewitt reminded us that the distance we had walked that day would be a daily necessity for many, whether to collect water, medicines or simply to go to school. In some small yet not insignificant way the money raised by this event would go to help people a long way from this place, that at that moment we somehow felt a little closer to even though in many ways in comparison with them it felt like we were walking at the edge of the world…

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Link to photos on Flickr:

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