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Picking Teams

Amongst the nostalgia-fest for schooldays here in Northern Ireland triggered by the final episodes of "Derry Girls" (as well as a sense of despair at how our politicians and successive British Governments have allowed the hope engendered by the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement to be frittered away - while too many on both sides of the "Irish Sea Border" misrepresent their attachment to it), over the past week I've been revisiting my own schooldays... which I largely enjoyed, but did included a repeated experience which has perhaps coloured my self-perception in some settings... Standing by the playground wall Awaiting the inevitable sigh Of the team captain who Is forced to have him Join their team. The playground wall is long gone But that boy still stands there In ill-fitting adults' clothes Expecting to be left on The sidelines. Selah
Recent posts

The Underneath

Kenneth Branagh's recent film "Belfast" is an unashamed child's-eye view of the city and community trauma that shaped him and set his life on the trajectory it has subsequently followed. He was criticised by some for having rose-tinted spectacles on, despite the film's predominantly black and white perspective, but I suspect that was both a function of Branagh's own personality (contrast his upbeat, if bargain-basement Henry V with the grim fare offered recently by the NT with Kit Harrington) and a deliberate choice. He wasn't offering a forensic political analysis of the inter-community violence and economic doldrums that drove his family from Northern Ireland, but a fond tribute to parents and a small community that saw him through a difficult if  formative time. I grew up in Belfast a few years after Branagh, if a part of it that was insulated from the worst of the violence here because of it being a solidly Protestant area with no interface


Blue skies; blue mood. Serotonin is no insurance Against sharply defined shadows. Do not fear, faithful watchers of my wellbeing, this is not a reflection of my mood, merely an observation, as lie on my hotel balcony looking at this view, partly in the light of some unhelpful drivel by an internet "influencer" who I will not deign to cite, and partly after listening to an edition of BBC's "Soul Music" on ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky", when unable to sleep for a  Shalom  period last night. It is worth a listen and should do your serotonin levels some good. Shalom

The Song of Time

This is a archetypal "doodle". It has been sitting in a notebook for months, prompted by a re-reading of Carlo Rovelli's "The Order of Time" (though he might balk at my use of the word "eternity" and the idea that time "flows") together with some of  Augustine's reflections on the same subject. Discuss... or not... Song is shaped by time; it marks time; it enriches time. But like time it flows from the singer into eternity. Selah

I Saw Him

An adaptation of a very old monologue based on a piece from New Irish Arts' "I Witness" 2 decades ago, but re-written as a partner piece to the post on Friday, as part of the livestreamed service from the Agape Centre led by my colleague Emily this morning while I was conducting the service in Grosvenor Hall. You can watch Mel Lyle's delivery of it on the recording on our Circuit YouTube Channel. I saw him… with my own eyes… although I didn’t recognize him at first… it must have been the tears… I thought he must have been the gardener, and I gave him a hard time about where they had put the body… I can’t imagine what he thought… I gabbled on until he said “Miriam”… My name… though you know me as Mary… Whatever way he said my name cut through my distress and confusion and I saw him as clearly as I see you now… my dear teacher… “Rabboni” I said as I rushed to embrace him… But he wouldn’t let me… Something about not holding him back from returning to his father… So I did

Walking Away

Based on an experience I had a few days ago when heading to the first of our Holy Week events, but I thought it was appropriate for Holy Saturday, and I  dedicate it to all those dealing with bereavement and loss, whether recent or from long ago. I saw you walking away From me today, As I have done quite often In recent weeks. I wanted to follow you, To catch you up With all that’s been happening Since you left us. I long for your perspective. To hear your voice, Its accent, wise words, laughter And silences. But you have stayed silent friend For far too long. You went on ahead of us, And I miss you. Selah

I Saw Him Die

It's Good Friday... The first time in three years that we have been able to have in-person events during Holy Week, and so as a result of deciding to do things differently from before the pandemic, for the first time in 25 years I am not responsible for a Good Friday Service tonight. Instead we had a longer Good Friday Prayer Pilgrimage across our churches in South Belfast this afternoon. As part of the last reflection "at the tomb" my colleague Emily asked if I had a partner-piece to the Easter Day Mary Magdalene monologue I have previously posted. I didn't... I had written one for that point in the story from the point of view of Jesus' mother. But I used that one as a jumping off point and wrote this one instead, which was delivered beautifully by Mel Lyle this afternoon: I saw him die… He who said he was the way, the truth and the life… the bread of life… the resurrection and the life… The one who said he was all those things was no more… The light of the sun