Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An afternooon with the Crofts

It is our second to last Wednesday in Northern Ireland. Billy and Mindi surprised us by arriving early on Monday and shocking us tremendously. Our group took a wee walk down the road to Richard and Amanda Croft's home this afternoon to enjoy minced pies, hot drinks, Christmas crackers, good conversation and general Christmas cheer. The Croft's home is lovely and hidden with wondrous old surprises. Richard played us delicious old records on his gramophone, which dates back to the 1890's, and the records he played us were from the big band age of the 1920's. It was transporting. I felt myself pulled back to the days of women in boyish fitting dresses, with shortly cropped hair, and wee hats, dancing away to music of brass and the like. We toured their house further and surveyed their extensive art collection (they are both professional artists). Carrie, Jill and I settled ourselves in their reading room, having discovered a wonderfully old book of Irish wit and humor, entitled "Brave Crack." We proceeded to read aloud selected verses and poems with the best and most dramatic Irish accents we could muster. Their house inspired the mind and wakened the soul to great thought. I mourn at the idea of leaving this place...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The real Ireland

I think I experienced the real Ireland for the first time since being in Northern Ireland. Carrie and I accompanied our new Irish friend Aiden and his German friend Klaus to a pub in an Irish village called Castlewellan, near Dundrum, where authentic Irish music was being played. We were easily the youngest people in the pub and it was an obvious difference. The band played and played. The tunes were like something heard only in films. There was a banjo, guitar, Irish flute, and another instrument I could not distinguish. The voices of the band rang out true Irish tones of nationalism. There were a great many songs about immigration and America. Klaus plays the harmonica and decided to play a few songs with the band. By the end of the night the entire pub was in love with him. The culture was evident everywhere. The accents were markedly different, the tunes, the language (some people spoke Gaelic) the people, the Guinness. Klaus was begged to stay and sing many more songs. He was essentially a celebrity when by the time we left the pub, people were getting up to shake his hand. The music was incredible. I felt as close to Irish as I might ever get. The beat pulsed through our veins as we clapped along to the rhythmic beat, while singing happily along with those around us. It was a beautiful scene of culture I have only now been privileged enough to survey. We drove home beneath a blazing moon, listening to beautiful Irish bagpipes and pensively watching the dark outline of the Mournes as we rode past. It was a glorious night...
I felt as if I was seeing the other side of Ireland for the first time. It was not until tonight that I realized the entirety of my experience in this wonderful place has been secluded to the Protestant, Unionist side of Ireland. I was able to glimpse finally the Nationalist, Catholic Ireland which has been denied me these three months. I think unintentionally, our group has been dragged right into the middle of sectarianism and allowed only to experience what others wanted us to. I am saddened by this, but grateful for my brief glimpse...

Friday, November 23, 2007


I am far too much of a romantic. I attempt to live my life in the world of optimistic idealism. But, sadly I am often brought crashing down into the cold, harsh world of realism. Cruel reality grips my ideals and vindictively breaks them apart-leaving me with only my dreams, shattered, but real. I realize my ideals are exactly that-ideals, but I choose them over the harsh reality of this world. I would rather live deluded and idealistically deceived then to constantly live in the sad reality of life. Perhaps I should temper my world of ideology with a bit of reality, but I can not be persuaded to part from this that is part of my nature. I am an shoot me. This is who I am and I can be no one else besides myself. That is the key really-to arrive at a place where one is content with oneself-perhaps I am on the way...? Or perhaps instead, this is just another silly ideal?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Crowds and Individuals

I find that when traversing my way through the crowded streets of Belfast, faces and people appear as mere blurs, nameless characters with no meaning or individuality. People begin to all look the same, losing all sense of uniqueness. It is only when the maddening rush ceases and the crowds disperse into small groups, individuals emerge. It is in the small coffee shops and restaurants that the faces slow down and I see people, separate from the masses. It is until those moments that I remember to look at people as unique creations and not simply as mass produced clumps of sameness. I am able to see personal stories and experiences-people emerge from the crowd and become is indeed a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


The monotony of studying is broken only by the metallic sound of rain crying its tears of steel outside our doors and windows. We have been cooped up all day due to the dismal weather. The wet, sopping outside as frightened us indoors. We cower in our cold rooms, with curtains shut tight, so as to keep out the cold, wrapped in layers we clutch mugs of hot tea for momentary relief. The words dribble out of our fingers with a click, tat, click, type of the computer keys--it is the only and incessant noise of our still houses. The wind howls outside our confinement like a mad child, reminding us to be thankful for being within doors. Hot stew for dinner, wondrous warmth. Besides warmth, our main aim is sanity, which bodes difficult in such forlorn conditions. I think cabin fever has begun to set in. We are all beginning to feel the effects: restlessness, irritability, fatigue, etc. I do not want to leave this place to which my soul has become attached, but I might be prepared for this time to be at an end. My nose is incessantly cold...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Industrial. That is how the city struck me upon entering its boarders this morning as the sun shone through the fog and mist of the early day. The early morning cold reached into our limbs as we ascended from the bus and greeted us awake. We boarded another bus into the city. Houses, stores, and people unique passed my vision and rapped me in the life of the city. Teasing rays of sunlight peaked through tree branches as we continued, drawing me to further alertness and awareness. I tried to read, but could not keep my eyes upon the page or the ideas that flitted in and out of my attention span. There was much to see. The city neared or rather we neared it. An automated voice screeched out the announcement that we had arrived at the city center. We departed the bus and entered the city. Swarms of people. International. We traversed to Trinity college which brought one into times past and romanticized. The architecture harked back to what appeared Victorian or something old and grand at the least. We communed with our art guide and had coffee. The accent of Dubliners is lovely, different and harsh upon my ears after being long accustomed to the Northern accent. The National gallery awaited. She took us through rooms upon rooms filled with artists and their work that related to our art course. Such beauty that I sadly do not possess the capacity to fully appreciate! The security guards at the gallery talked incessantly, sweet but time consuming-I adore the accent. Eating, walking, talking. More crowds. The thrill of walking through a big city alone and independent absolutely exhilarated my soul. Shops upon shops-overwhelming. Unique streets lined with Christmas light adorn my memory. We walked where "Once" was filmed-wonderful. There were street musicians-I gave them a Euro. A park with geese and many people-I took a picture of Carrie despite my hatred of being "that person" who takes pictures like a tourist. More walking, window shopping-fresh flower venders, homeless people, lattes and crazy talk. Dinner in a pub, walking to the bus, languages galore-international city. The Dublin Post office-I am reminded of The Easter Rising-what history I have been allowed to see...wondrous city.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I just finished reading the chapter in my philosophy book regarding Post-modernism. It definitely caused me to pause and ponder. There is so much emptiness in philosophy, but it is pursued by individuals who, I believe, are genuinely seeking true life and meaning to existence. Why then do so many find only circular philosophies that leave one without meaning or life? But, philosophy requires reason and we are intelligent beings gifted with reason. We are left with the keys to knowledge and with that comes power, responsibility. We have been given much in the form of ourselves, but even more in the person of Jesus Christ. He has done much and given all, and we must give up to receive all. We have been given much in the realm of reason and philosophy, but we are offered life in the person of Jesus. He has reached down through the heavens to rescue us, but it is our responsibility to respond. This response, I believe, transcends salvation and reaches into the daily surrender that must take place for true life to emerge. We must die in order to really live-now cause that to make sense in philosophy...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cows and books

Obligingly they dip their heads to feed and chew
Their bodies automatically filling their bellies
Their hunger is insatiable
They eat, chew, digest and absorb
Similarly, we lower our heads to our books
Drinking in knowledge and wisdom
Insatiable is our hunger
We cannot ever attain enough to be fill
We eat, chew, digest and absorb
We are like the cows
They eat
We eat
They must
We must
We are the same, but not at all...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The chains that bind

Materialism. The word sickens me because of its truth. I am suffocated by the presence and overbearing realness of the material world in which I reside, but even more so by my own tendency to succumb to its deadly clutches. Everywhere I look I see it, the demon of materialism. It lulls humanity into a false security-promising happiness and fulfillment, but it leaves only rotting emptiness. We clutch, grab, snatch and madly fight to possess it, to capture it, but always and forever it eludes our grasp and vanishes into the realm of impossibility. Clothing, houses, cars, all things material are temporal and weak, empty-it will all leave us alone with just ourselves with nothing to offer us comfort if that is all we possessed and looked to. If we turn to this demon for happiness we will ultimately find despair and hollowness. I can attest. I attempt vainly to capture some sort of permanence or security by means of materialism, but am always left completely empty and without fulfillment. It is all the same, a guise of unique individuality. It wears the mask of beauty and fashion, but the ugly reality beneath the mask is mass commercialism and anything but individuality. Things will rot and decay, clothes will go out of fashion and we will always be continually trying to keep up with the impossible demon of materialism. If we, if I attempt to fight him and win, we, I am doomed to failure...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Castles and rainy days...

I think our time here is finally progressing into the type of weather that most Native Irish people are used to: cold, wet, and rainy. We gathered together in the "eating" house for a warm lunch of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. We talked about the semester, while sipping cups of wonderful Irish tea. We are all amazed at just how little time we have remaining. The rain is falling against the window, making the indoors and my C.S. Lewis book all the more appealing. Jordan and Madysen are down stairs baking cookies while listening to Christmas music; the scene is truly picturesque...
We visited Hillsborough Castle this morning, the visit having been arranged by a member of Parliament, whom we met while visiting Stormant (Northern Irish Parliament) earlier this semester. This tour was exceptionally enjoyable. The man who showed us through the house, David, has seen many great and powerful people pass through its doors during his time there. He is essentially the caretaker and housekeeper. He has met and assisted the Dali Lama, President George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Tony Blaire, The Queen of England and many more. The house itself carries much history and significance in light of world events and decisions made. President Bush and Prime Minister Blaire met and decided upon the invasion of Afghanistan in the library where we stood. The picture of their meeting resides in the room, giving testimony to the fact. Many powerful people and many great decisions took place in that house, and we were fortunate enough to tread where those events took place...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nights in Ireland...

Today was C.S. Lewis day. We attended the church where he was christened and spent his "formative years" as the bulletin stated. It was also remembrance Sunday, which commemorates those who gave their lives in the two great world wars. It was a Church of Ireland service (similar to that of a traditional Episcopal church). The church was dotted with individuals in military garb and there was a general moment of silence in which to remember those lives were lost. It was a beautiful service, but I fear that routine and mechanical behavior set in around the time the actual sermon began and I might have fallen asleep! I met a women from Connecticut after the service who had married an Irishmen and moved across the ocean to live and love. She told to never fall in love with an Irishmen, "they will never move" she said. We visited a famous sculpture by an artist named Ross Wilson, who we were actually fortunate enough to meet early upon our arrival here in Ireland. It depicts Lewis's wardrobe and Diggory, the first boy in Narnia-it was magical...
We also visited the hotel where Lewis is said to have taken his honeymoon with Joy, his wife. It was wonderfully quaint and pleasant, with a fire going in the reception area. We visited various other little small Irish towns Lewis is said to have visited and stayed. It was bitter cold and many of us were not properly dressed for such weather, so we took the long bus drive home with Hadden to Betty and her wonderful cooking, which was sinfully delicious and far too indulgent. We listened to Hadden read his poem about a kiss in the dark; it was hilariously funny and witty-I love Hadden...
Hadden then drove us all home in the dark and shadows. It was only nearing six, yet the sky was completely dark and the windows of the bus were fogged with steam. He played lyric Irish music and we clapped and sang along-it was brilliant. He also played a poem of W. B. Yeats put to music; it was hauntingly beautiful. I will miss this place...

Friday, November 9, 2007


I am far too reliant upon people and circumstances for my happiness. I seek to often the fleeting affirmation of fickle individuals and ever-changing circumstances. I look to others for my value and not to the face of my true love, Jesus. How I must hurt His heart! I yearn so passionately for recognition and pursuit. Yet, I already possess it? Why then do I run towards emptiness. I cannot seem to rest in the arms of my first love and great pursuer. I hate that people have the ability to control my feelings and emotions. I despise, but love my reliance on individuals. We are meant to be in community, but the fickleness of humanity makes it difficult to ever be safe. I must run to the One who will never fail...only then will I be safe.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Amazing Grace

Beautiful, glorious, amazing grace...we were just assigned our final research project in our literature class and I could not be more excited. Professor Bingham gave us a most relevant topic: our assignment is to trace the story of William Wilberforce and his Christian faith which helped lead him to become the conscience of the British people. Flipping awesome! I feel like Jesus speaks in such mysterious ways...We watched a documentary in class today regarding modern slavery and my heart was gripped. The slave trade has not been completely conquered-thousands around the world still live within the bonds of slavery. William Wilberforce was a single man, but a man called of God. He tenaciously fought to end the horrors of the slave trade; he did not give-for over twenty years he worked and labored to end the trade and possession of his fellowman. What is God calling me to? I am just one girl, young and naive, but why could he not use me for His purposes? I have passion for his people and more than that, for freedom, both physical and spiritual. I surrender what I have for His call-may I be prepared for what He gives me...

The morning...

The Mournes are shrouded in cloud, the bay is filled to the brim and the sun is teasingly peaking through the clouds at intervals. The mornings are quite dark now. I awoke thinking it was very early, but looked at my clock, only to find that it was already ten. I do not know how my soul is going to part from this place? I feel I will be eternally discontent for my second home. This place has been where Jesus has rejuvenated my mind and soul. I long for friendships at home; however, I will ache to be here again-I ache at the thought of leaving. But, life is seasons and this was a wonderfully glorious season, for which I must thankfully continue on the road of life. Ireland will forever be in my heart and that I cannot forget...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

And the world goes on...

The sun sets early here in Northern Ireland. It takes me off guard every day when I witness the blazing sun begin to retreat behind the Muron Mountains and bid farewell to the world at half past three, nearly four. It always takes my psyche a significant amount of time adjust to the changing of the seasons and the ever-shifting mood of the sun. I have never experienced such short days in my life before being here. I have learned to absolutely chase the sun and bask in its glory for all I'm worth until I can do it no longer. With these short days has come the cold. Fall has truly come to Northern Ireland. The almost naked trees are a testimony to the time and season in which I find myself in this beautiful place. I still make myself go out for walks, despite the cold, because it will only get worse. The path I choose to walk takes my breath away daily and astounds me further at God's creative genius. The creatures that I encounter upon such outings remind me that God cares for all living things, and that He especially cares for me, His child. The colors of this season are absolutely delicious. The burnt reds mingle with the mustard yellows and cooperate in a world of blissful color. The season of fall brings with it shorter days and colder weather, but it is also accompanied by the vibrancy of color and the reminder of ones own relevance in the world. The seasons change and progress-that we would stop and survey His wondrous creation and its beautiful manifestation of life and its cycles...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Some new moves

I learned some new moves tonight. I spent some time with my new friends from Murlough house. The people that live and work at Murlough house (a house of ministry) come from all over the world and represent various nations and countries. The girls I hung out with tonight are from Jamaica. They are a blast to spend time with! Shasi and Dana taught me some Jamaican dance moves-it was freaking awesome. We shook and moved, sweated and laughed, and did it all to Reggae Gospel music. I felt privileged to be allowed to experience their culture in the form of dance. They even said I had great rhythm! Dancing transcends verbal communication and speaks to the soul of a person. Jamaican dancing definitely speaks to my soul!

Why I have hope

A new day...

Newness and rejuvenation come with the morning. The sun rises and brings with it hope and awakens joy. The night of sadness and darkness recedes, melts and is replaced with the goodness of light and beauty of the new day. However, this newness, this rejuvenation comes, but there are still storms and trials. One cannot live in the newness always, but must trek through the muck and trials of life. Mr. Lewis refers to pain as being the megaphone God uses to speak (roughly spoken) and to this I agree. If we are not pained and put through difficulties, for what reason do we have to reach our feeble hands upward towards a Saviour? Oswald Chambers talks of identifying with Christ and says that "God's way is always the way of suffering, the way of the 'long, long trail.'" Thus, we must be partakers in Christ's suffering...we must lay down our rights to gain freedom-paradox? Yes...
Pain will come and it will mold, shape, break...but then we will be made new. His way is suffering, but it also freedom-losing oneself to find true liberty-odd thing Christianity...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

My heart

I am alive
Free falling
Empty space
I am lost
There is nothing
I grab-only emptiness
I find only facades in the dark
My tears drown
My heart is racing
I am alive-but only in part
It must be parted from me
I have to part from what makes me live and breath
My life source must be given
So that it can be found
My heart breaks with the pain
The pieces mingle with the tears
I am caught-held
I cannot breath for want of air
The tears become a flood
The broken pieces are gone
My heart is whole again
I am new
I am alive...

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Presence of God

The name of the study is Lydia, named for the Lydia of the Bible. We read a passage of Scripture, out of John specifically. Then, we took about twenty minutes of silence to reflect, meditate and pray about the passage after reading through it again. We then came together as a group (only women) and shared our thoughts, insights, perspectives-which all differed greatly! After this we prayed together-oh the Spirit was present! He moved in our hearts and spoke to us individually and wonderfully. Hearts that want to serve Him and love Him fully are beautiful things. Passion and the all-consuming love of God in women of God is incredible-so encouraging! We are to die to self. We must learn to hate this life in order to find true and everlasting life in Him-such a paradox of truth! Our nature rejects such concepts. We are self-preserving beings, why would we want to lose ourselves? But, that is the way, that is where followers of Christ are called: to lay down ones rights and die to live. The phoenix is brought to new life in its own death and ashes, so must we find life anew in death-only then can we truly live...