Lenten {contemplate} {reflect} {repeat}

Thursday February 15th 2018 – mid afternoon

I did something really stupid today, nothing new in that.

I misspelled Lent.

The spelling I used was leant.

But on reflection, I think I might have spelled it right.

The verb to lean means to be in or move into a sloping position or incline from the perpendicular and rest for support against (something) or cause something to rest against.

According to UMC:

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.

Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.

Lent is a time of digging deeper and drawing closer to the Lord, it no longer is a time of fasting, regret of sinning and asking for forgiveness in particular. Some people give up something they like and others try a new way of generosity, giving and volunteering. Over the years I have taken part in a photo a day, writing a day and reading a day through Lent. This year I had the feeling that God wanted something different in my response. But I wasn’t sure what it was so I just read the devotional and journaled and that is when I did the daft thing.

But in spelling Lent as leant. I pondered and thought deeply then relaxed because I think I got my answer God wants me to lean, to recline in his arms and I am happy to do so. So as I delve into this leaning I will share here as it happens.

Naming the child

I had a story of how my life began but it turned out to be only one perspective. As an embryo my name was Jill. But on arriving into the world my name became Susan. My sister is named after an old flame of somebody or other.

My best friend (when I was 4 and 5) had a daddy and he called me Sukey, She was called Catherine but he always named her as Polly. He was a sickly man, spent days upon days in bed, with a stone jar filled with hot water and a house full of medicine. He would sing the nursery rhyme of Polly and Sukey and kettles and tea. And we would dance and laugh around the bed.

The first and unfortunate nickname I was given – elephant features was replaced by most everyone when I hit 13 and I became The SoupDragon. One person still will call me soups but the one who named me took his life when faced with “child” type charges.

When at the age of 21 I became Mrs. Gallagher it was all a bit of a shock but all my people from then on named me Suzie up till now.

You see I don’t fit a name as such, Doris was convinced of Rosie and Heather thought Jessie was a good name for me and there was a nurse I worked with once had Noreen on her mind.

God named me via JA house in Milton Keynes. He called me steadfast and so in my head, I am steadfast and true, Susan as my daddy named me all those years ago.

One day the world, my friends, and family will catch up with my mind.

It started with a …

hairband. Never thought it would end up with me in a supermarket car park praying for something, a word out of sight, a notion, a piece of wisdom carved in rock I could carry with me. I was fleetingly plumbing the depths.

I lost my hairband. I lost my identity. My life was that hairband. I threw it on and people thought I had groomed and the bits that stuck out were a new coiffure style not yet encountered (on the planet).

Hairband was less than a month old. I probably wore it every day for two weeks and it became a part of my morning routine. Dress, throw hairband on, grab keys, gulp coffee, go. I have this down to five minutes but I can do it in three if pushed.

I had cast hairband in a starring role. I have done much visualising of my future, casting a net over buildings and imagining me in those architectural nightmares. It is part of the coaching, life skills, communications guru stuff I have gone through in the last while.

Hairband was supposed to get me ready. It is part of the routine except that on Wednesday in Dublin I left it behind in the guest house and arrived at college sans hairband. Everyone noticed. Well actually that is a slight exaggeration, no one noticed. It was in my head that what was on my head mattered. But it is my head so to me it mattered.

I missed hairband, it added structure to my exterior. The hair is a woman’s crowning glory and hairband was my crown. Because it was all about the paintwork. It reminded me of the Year of Self Control. I learned so many things in that year about other people and their perceptions and also after nine months discovered why I was to focus on self control.

It wasn’t about the money, clothes or coiffured hair. It was about sitting and listening to some news that rocked my world without reacting in “old self” ways. A number of years previous to this I had not learned this valuable life lesson and sought out numbness in all the wrong places. I remember the morning I so wanted to go to church but family ties meant I caught a plane instead. I guess I did have the beginnings of knowing where to turn but not the gumption to halt proceedings.

My world rocked on its hinges, fell off the axis and smashed. The history I had built my life on disappeared and a new history began to appear. A history that took time to form and questions raised and answers sought. But it is formed now.I didn’t need a hairband for that.

What is it about talismans, necklaces, brooches and hairbands that make us feel more confident? And was this what I was pinning on that hairband – confidence? Surely not, after life coaching and guru communication sessions. Surely now was the time to stand confident in Christ alone. For an hour or so I smugly agreed I did not need a hairband.

And then I left the confines of the building into a howling Dublin wind and realised the real reason I needed a hairband was to keep my hair out of my eyes. So I bought a new one and wore that to the meeting. It was not about hairbands.

So what brought me to the supermarket car park? I lost focus, and navel gazed too long. I was remembering a similar journey three years ago. Could my pride allow me to go through the door? I sent out a prayer request for urgent covering as I sought God’s opinion. The answer I got was yes there will be humility involved but He would protect me from humiliation.

I continued on the path that would teach me more about humility than I had expected and with no massive cost of face. I was just myself and fielded the questions and answers with the ease God has given me. Confidence comes from God not a hairband.

Jeremiah 17:7

‘But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him’

Such confidence we have through Christ before God.
It is with His confidence I continue walking along a precarious path. I was reminded of the delicate veil between old and new when talking to someone stuck in a moment this week. On one day this week I met some struggling and someone hiding behind a facade of propriety. And I looked at myself through a different lens, where was I on the line of “in it” and “over it.” This took me down a few different routes of self discovery and awareness.
And I got here ….
on God alone, Christ alone, Spirit alone
and all those “troubles” will stay clear.
through writing this piece I realised I sang and stole lyrics or concepts along the way so …
It started with a kiss never thought it would end like this
stuck in a moment
stranded at the drive thru – branded a fool
brain drain

Random {chat} between sisters


What is in the hampers?


Two bottles of wine, a bottle is spirits, a box chocolates and/or biscuits. I’ll see what comes tomorrow when the delivery arrives.


really??? wow… we could never do that


Hampers aimed at non Christians. They have money too!


I know, I am not judging, just comparing what we do here

to what you do there


The joy of different churches.

Still. You get to preach and lead. I don’t. Different strokes.


I guess I prefer my side of the fence then

Following the boat

I had an epiphany on the M50 yesterday. I suddenly wanted to do something different. I wanted to start following the boat. It was on a flatbed, an old cranky boat with a ripped starboard.

It was older than a starboard boat. I remember playing a game called Port or Starboard as a child with bruised shins. I don’t think the game came from centuries ago but I think the boat might.

I was driving so I don’t have a picture. Smudge tried and failed to get an in focus picture of the boat but got a lovely side view of my melanoma and double chin. We had been to the hospital and had new hope and a new doctor. Things could change.

We discussed what the doctor said and the procedures he wanted to perform on Smudge. I mentioned the daily injections and that is when he hit me. Not literally… he said he might not go back to college.

The boat came passed, we were going to Dundrum to find Jamie’s restaurant for a massive treat. But I started following the boat. And I asked him, “shall we just follow the boat?”

He said, “we can’t do that, we have to go home, you have things to do.” But I just kept on following that boat. Every now and then he tried to persuade me that going home would be okay. But just for that moment I did not want to deal with church stuff, home stuff, college stuff. I just wanted to follow what looked like a Viking longboat and never deal with my stuff again.

I had been studying Psalm 46, with the intention of writing a sermon. But it all went south, yesterday. I know God is with me, I know I can be still and let God work in situations, I know he is ever-present and I know being Christian does not mean everything becomes easy.

But just for that moment I wanted to follow the boat and never go home. A few weeks ago I was at a coach station in a European city and I {almost} got on a bus going anywhere else but home. Then I was at an airport and I wanted to fly away to anywhere.

There was just so much to think about , so much to deal with and now Smudge may not go back to university. My lovely ring-fenced days off are gone. Hospitals, doctors and canteen coffee loom on the horizon and beluga caviar. I just want to follow the boat. And the empty nest Sean & I were looking forward to became technical once more.

I thought of the story told of the God who dances in potato chips and I remembered. I remembered who I am, I remembered why I was at college, why I had been fired, why I bend like a reed to help Smudge, why I have become protective of people, why I have been placed where I have been placed.

The transient thought of following the boat passed and I turned to go home. Smudge went to sleep. All is quiet, all is well. “Be still and know I am God.”


Recall for recall

I got a letter today, recalling my vehicle for a small adjustment and it got me thinking about life and the need to recall. There is, of course, the wonderful example of Mary who treasured up memories to ponder on later. She could at a later time reach into her treasure chest of memories and be encouraged and soothed by special times.

How can one word have two radically different meanings?

Recalling in relation to revoking, or bring back was first used in 1580’s French and thirty years later it began to be used in the sense of bringing back to memory. Eidetic memory or photographic memory is the ability to totally recall events as if they were in front of you.

I have always struggled with this photographic memory I had no need to hone. It was just there, not always wanted. I think it sometimes annoys people that I remember clothes, stance, words.

Last year someone clearly said something to me that knocked me a bit, it didn’t floor me or make me curl into a ball. But a few months later when they denied or forgot they had spoken those words I wondered. I could clearly recall them and yet they couldn’t do the same thing.

{editor note – I had written this some months ago}

When I recall now distant memories from my childhood, I wonder how much is skewed by my perception or whether it is coloured by others perceptions. For example I had an ace day once with my dad on the dodgems at a local fair in some kind of town or village. When I got home, for once I gave up the information of where I had been and how ace it had been. Stony silence was followed by “he only took you because he wanted to go”

But now I wonder… why the stoniness… why the fair?

Did I actually experience this event or has my perception been so skewed?

I sometimes long for a letter to come to recall me to the factory to be reset to default settings.



The news hit me like a tidal wave that took not only my breath but also my entire history away. My childhood had been like walking across a never-ending stretch of quicksand. I had to keep moving or I would sink without trace.


So who am I? This person with no history. How do I rebuild a new history that is not a tissue of lies from other people but a true reflection of what really happened for all the people concerned.


Alopecia and vomit stained overcoats, where was the love? How did the participants in my coming into the world actually get together and why? What made them stay together beyond a year or two?


I was reading a story and lost the plot, it disappeared and I didn’t know where to go to find it. I walked in Dublin and cried on the tree lined avenues, the red brick semi-detached houses made me feel more alienated than ever. I walked to my train on Wednesday, again not wanting to go home. Because I didn’t know how to be the me they knew anymore. I was a different me and they found that hard.


On Thursday I went to Ballybunion with Lorelei and we walked on the beach and I realised I didn’t lose the plot because that plotline never existed, it was their imagination.


My reality is not in their imagination and so now it is necessary to go back to the beginning and work out a real plot. I shall scrutinise all the characters and it may be a time for some pruning. Too many characters can spoil the plot.


I remember reading someone’s blog, I think it may have been the white space author when she had a complete epiphany and had to rewrite her history and that is what I have to do. But I never expected this. I wanted the Disney story of being brought up in the wrong home. Or being sent to Mallory Towers, I would even have accepted “care.”


Throughout my life I have wanted those things, because I did not belong to the historical framework of my family and I knew it. Somehow, deep down I knew I was being fed untruths, not the full story, lies and deceit. But I always thought it was because underneath the solid rock of our shared history was something so awful “about me.”


The freedom I feel now is like a 51-year-old weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It isn’t my fault; there is no one to blame. We were just child pawns, in a very grown up game of chess. My brother and I are known for picking up our ball and leaving the playing field. My sister stays on the pitch crying out for us all to come back.


Weirdly then, it is I who wants to bring some peace and clarity to all our lives, I want to give a voice to people who have had no voice. I want to explore with them what it means to live, truly live. And maybe, just maybe I will share.