Tuesday, April 28, 2009

just thinkin'

I think that I would like to marry the kind of man who, if we lived in a small community, would be in the volunteer fire department.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

so happy to be here for this prettiest of Charlotte springs

Spring in Charlotte this year (which seems to have ended when summer temperatures suddenly appeared yesterday) has been the prettiest I think I've ever seen. And after living here for over 10 years that's saying a lot.

Spring in Charlotte is full of color. Soft but vibrant color. The white of the flowering trees. The pinks of the azalea bushes. The purple wisteria growing wherever it can. The rainbow of greens in the grass and brand new leaves and the evergreens and magnolias. And don't forget those Carolina blue skies. At the horizon the blue is so pale it's almost white and as you follow the curve of the domed sky higher it becomes more saturated, but never darker. It's beautiful.

There is something very different about the sky here and the sky in Britain and Ireland. I haven't been able to fully put my finger on what it is. Sometimes I think the sky here is bigger. Sometimes I think maybe it's closer in Britain. I just can't pin point it, but there is a difference. I love the sky in both places, but this Carolina blue has captured my heart this spring.

So, not much measurable progress has been made on my job search. But I have received some helpful emails and links to websites and lots of encouragement. If I could get a job and move to Ireland purely on the good wishes of my friends I would be there tomorrow!

I've been doing other things to prepare for the move. Going through all my boxes of stuff and down sizing. This is always a hard thing for me as I tend to be very sentimental. For about 4 hours this morning and afternoon I was pulling boxes out of the storage room, opening them up, and sorting through what was to keep and what was to get rid of. I am very happy to say that the get rid of pile was several times larger than the keep pile. I've let go of over ten boxes of stuff. And I think the keep pile would maybe fit in 3 boxes, it has yet to be repacked. I only cried a little bit, when I opened my Christmas box. I think that was mostly about not having seen it for several years because I didn't make myself get rid of much from that box. Just the twinkle lights (it's just silly to keep electric stuff when you're moving internationally) and candles. Oh, and a box of plain red balls and some gift books. Nothing I was really attached to.

I kept reading the labels on boxes and thinking, "Oh great, this is where it gets dicey" and then having no problem what so ever. That is huge for me!!! (I guess that's not news to you after I memorialized a pair of shoes!) Speaking of which here is a picture of my other pair of new shoes. I like the pair they replaced, but not nearly to the extent of the brown pair. So no need to include a picture of them. The only thing memorable about them is that, more than any other pair of shoes, they taught me the valuable lesson that it is worth paying to have good shoes when you live in Europe and have to walk everywhere. (They were the "get one free" part of a Payless Shoes purchase.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

job hunt

I've been waiting a while to get my CV (resume) back from the dear lady who has been making it for me. The waiting paid off this weekend with a CV and basic cover letter much more strongly built than I could have ever hoped to make myself.

So now, I am ready to begin looking for a job in Ireland. I am SO excited and a bit nervous about this. When something that has been a dream or a hope for so long suddenly becomes a reality it takes a bit of getting used to. At least for me. I remember how I felt when I was accepted to Transit. This is a very similar feeling, on a smaller scale. (I still have to find that job after all!)

If you know of any churches or ministries in/around Dublin or Belfast or anywhere else in Ireland who are looking for someone to fill a position involving outreach to small children (and their families) let me know!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

old shoes new shoes

Sometimes I'm too sentimental for my own good.

I've been in need of new shoes for a while now. So recently I found a good deal on a great pair of shoes online. They are sturdy and cute and designed with eco-friendly materials. Plus, I got them for 50% off.

But now that they're here I'm having a hard time getting rid of my old shoes. They're old and worn out. The heels are so worn down that my back aches if I wear them for too long. The inner soles are pulling away from the foot bed. They're scuffed and gouged. It's time to let them go.
The new shoes really aren't all that different from the old ones. And they're much better quality. The old shoes were $16 at Target. The new shoes were originally $90 from Hush Puppies. (Remember I got them on clearance.)

But the old shoes have taken me everywhere. I got them for my first trip out of the country when I went to visit Kirstin in Scotland. I wore them the first time I walked down Dublin's streets. All last year, walking through England they took me where I needed to go. So saying good-bye has proven an emotional event. I'm hoping that this memorial will ease their passing, at least a little bit.

And so, farewell shoes.

praise song for the day

On Easter Sunday my church, a non-denominational church planted by an Anglican church in London, shared a service with the congregation with whom we share a building. This church is Greater Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, an African-American church. The theme of the morning was Reconciliation. It was a powerful and emotional experience. Our band combined with the full gospel choir to lead worship. The pastors tag-teamed the sermon. Much was said about the racial issues in the south of America. All I could think of was the sectarian issues in Belfast.

Truly, reconciliation is a universal theme. Each and every human being stands in need of reconciliation. First with God. This is what Easter is all about. "God was in Christ reconciling us to himself." Then with each other. This is the good news of Christianity. That God wants to restore our relationships, all of our relationships.

I was moved during President Obama's inauguration by the poem written and read by Elizabeth Alexander, Praise Song for the Day. I purchased a copy of it recently. Now seems a fitting time to share it:

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eye or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors upon our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other with words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

o happy day!

One week ago today my sister, Laura, married Wes. The day was beautiful, Laura was radiant, the joy was tangible. We couldn't have asked for anything more.

Friday, April 10, 2009

the Tain

So I just finished reading The Tain, translated from the Old Irish by Ciaran Carson. I've heard a lot about this story. It's a pretty big deal in Irish literature and history so it's mentioned and referenced a lot. For good reason I think. It was a very powerful and emotive story. Basic story line:

King Ailill and Queen Medb have a matrimonial fracas over who has brought the most wealth to their marriage. They count all of their possessions only to find that they are equally matched except for one Bull which really belongs to Medb but goes over to Ailill so as not to be counted as a woman's property. So Medb decides to steal another bull to match him. This leads them into a series of cattle raids and battles between the hero Cu Chulainn who single handed wards off forces from all over Ireland and protects Ulster for months. It all ends with the two Bulls fighting and killing each other and the armies calling a truce.

One thing that really stood out to me is how women are portrayed.

First you have Queen Medb who is a powerful warrior getting into a feminist little tiff with her husband and then to prove her worth instigates this series of events. Several times through out the story she asks for favors from men offering "the friendship of her thighs" as a reward for their service. She causes their great ally Fergus to lose his sword by sleeping with him. Her pride and fickleness are continually sited as the reason men are losing their lives.

Then you have Finnabair, Ailill and Medb's daughter. She apparently is very beautiful because her hand in marriage is offered up as the prize for many different men if they will join the army and/or defeat Cu Chulainn. She is the reason Cu Chulainn's foster brother and greatest friend Fer Diad is tricked into combating Cu Chulainn which battle ends with his death. She eventually dies of shame when it is discovered how many men have been promised her hand and 700 men are killed as a result.

The other women are either mentioned as pleasure giving objects, Cu Chulainn's wife, or vindictive bit players in the greater story, the Morrigan. At the same time there are women who are strong characters (though really only mentioned as background characters) like Scathach who is Cu Chulainn's foster mother and the one who trained him and Fer Diad in the martial arts.

A very interesting look at the role of women/how they were seen in ancient Irish society.

Perhaps it is emphasized more in this translation, but I can completely understand how the Northern Irish unionists have taken this story as their own. The pitting of Ulster against the rest of Ireland is very clear and a very powerful part of the story. There always has been something a bit seperate about Ulster and I think this is something I want to explore further.

The one thing I really loved was when the Ulstermen begin assembling for the war and King Ailill's scout, Mac Roth, is relaying the information about all the different companies and their warrior leaders. Then the chapter closes with this:

"And many more companies were still arriving as I left. Wherever I cast my eye," said Mac Roth, "on any hill or height from Fer Diad's Ford to Slane in Meath, all I could see was men and horses." "What you saw was a people coming together," said Fergus.

So powerful, so moving. That is what we need now in Northern Ireland. A rallying cry. A reason for all the people to come together.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

around the dinner table

While eating pizza with William and Davis, both seven, this conversation ensued:

William (reading my shirt): Jamaica me happy. That means I'm happy.
Me: Yes. Guess where Miss Laura is going on her honeymoon? Jamaica.
Davis: For my honeymoon, when I grow up, I'm going to go to Antigua. ... Or Atlanta. Atlanta is a popular place. Lots of people go there for their honeymoon.
Me: Oh! How about you William? Where will you go on your honeymoon?
William: I don't know. ... I have abs.
Me: What?
William: Abs, I have abs.
Davis: Yeah, me too. I have a six pack.