April 1, 2016
It is a remarkable place. Five thousand years ago the mysterious people who lived in the Boyne Valley created one of the marvels of the ancient world. They assembled an immense and sophisticated structure to try and make sense of the conundrum of life and death and to fill the blackest of all voids with some semblance of meaning.
Breathtaking. Imagine standing deep inside the womb-like darkness at the centre of the tomb just before 9.00 am on the 21st December, the Winter Solstice. From the East, as the Sun emerges over the hills beyond comes a shard of warm morning light, it slowly makes its way along the floor of the passageway, finally alighting on a special stone upon which human ashes were once carefully placed. The gap between life and death, light and dark, this world and the Other must have seemed gossamer thin…
But the moment didn’t last, it was just an illusion, frustrating in its brevity, a tantalising mirage of what seemed forever beyond reach…
Some words of Jesus kept coming to my mind as we walked around:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
In Christ the light is not infrequent, obscure or hidden away for the chosen few, but for all people everywhere…
In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. (John 1:4)
August 3, 2015
With excitement and eager anticipation we took an evening drive towards the sea, headlong into the boisterous weather. Angry waves, blustering wind and sideways rain and it’s thirteen degrees, it does not feel like August! I got out of the car on the road overlooking Ownahincha to take this photo (with the ‘Snapseed’ app my phone), fighting against the car door as the wind tried to push it closed. A perfect day for chip shop chips, steaming out of a brown paper bag, followed (of course) by ice cream…
May 23, 2015
Last week I was invited to a retreat day in Coolkelure church, near Dunmanway. Bishop Richard Henderson spoke to us about the prophet Jonah and, as always, what he had to say was inspired and truly excellent. With great skill and infectious enthusiasm, he brought the ancient text to life and it was a joy to be there, to listen and to learn.
One of the things he mentioned in an offhand way was the old Willow tree in the north-west corner of the churchyard. It had sustained quite a lot of damage in a storm, (perhaps during the gale on February 12th last year). In the photo (taken with my phone) above, you can just about see the split in the upper part of the trunk.
Yet since and even because of this catastrophe, recovery and new growth has begun.
We too might suffer something so catastrophic and life changing that we are tempted to lose all hope. Yet as the tree continues to draw water and nutrients from the soil and absorb light from the Sun, so we can continue to receive from the Lord. He will relentlessly work to reshape, rebuild and restore every broken heart and every shattered life of all who will come to Him.
April 15, 2015
Earlier this morning while taking the dog for a walk, something about the field behind our house made me want to go and have a closer look. The sun, still at a low angle was shining across the soil, highlighting the long furrows created by the ploughing that took place yesterday.
There was an almost palpable sense of expectation coming from the ground, a sense of readiness and anticipation. Soon the crop will be planted and growth will begin.
Jesus’ story about a sower sowing seeds provides a wonderful description of those who allow his words to take root in the fertile and receptive soil of their minds:
“… And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
How good and receptive is our soil? Perhaps a bit of weeding is needed, perhaps there are some rocks to be cleared away!
April 10, 2015
Strolling across a bridge over the river Lee yesterday evening, the reflection of the buildings along Camden Quay looked remarkable. I only had my phone to take the picture – how I wish I carried my ‘proper’ camera around more often!
Here’s a picture of the same location from 1955 (the night of the Opera House Fire) on the Cork City Council website.