Random {chat} between sisters

Me:

What is in the hampers?

Friend:

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

Me:

really??? wow… we could never do that

Friend:

Hampers aimed at non Christians. They have money too!

Me:

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

to what you do there

Friend:

The joy of different churches.

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

Mer:

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.”

 

Stories weave

The best stories in the bible did not happen in religious services. 

They happen in the real world, the messy world, the situations we sit in, still after thousands of years.

Joseph changed history working for a secular government in a pagan nation.

What does this mean for us in our life? Are we sitting in the real world? Or a sanitised version of it. 

Morrigan has left

reposted here, originally posted on http://marycronin.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/not-sure-what-to-do-about-mary-but-it-wont-be-written-down/

Mary was a part of my life for so long, but didn’t get round to writing her whole story down on paper. There exists a short story about Mary Cronin called Morrigan Mary which can be found in the short story section  at http://sukeymacki.posterous.com/, warning though it is not a pretty romantic tale, this girl is desperate and has no hope, it’s powerful only in it’s shock value. It was the first short story I wrote after a twenty year abyss. I was in a place of no hope when I wrote it. From that came the idea that even in desperation there has to be hope, this took Mary on many jaunts, being homeless and getting out in various forms including death, being abused and abusive and getting out in various forms including education, pregnancy and death. Mary was finally going to have a story for her in this blog, as a scrawny, malnutritioned, neglected child through various trials, as Morrigan the goddess within her surfaced more and more until she blossomed into the girl she is today.

But, and that is the clincher, but I have grown spiritually so much since first meeting the character Mary that I find I can’t continue. The reasons are many:

  • The concept of goddesses and gods – can’t go there anymore
  • the language needed in the place she is – can’t go there anymore
  • the girl and her decisions – can’t go there anymore
  • I can’t write about the hopelessness without a glimmer of hope
  • but most of –

The people, the characters I based on real people are still in that situation. “Mary” herself is no longer the fourteen year old girl, befriended …

A letter to Santa? the not poem

In response to the poem “A letter to Santa?”

 

I was watching a drama on ITV3 the other night entitled ‘Clash of the Santas’ and as the plot unfurled I found myself becoming more and more disturbed. It began as the children of the family explained to their dad that there was to be no Nativity this year respecting other religions. The dad says “what’s religion got to do with Christmas?”

The poem was written at the same time as watching the drama, real needs in the world, real needs within families are not going to be fulfilled by a fat man in a red suit. Not so much the images in the drama but the dialogue was disturbing because to place all your hope in an idol is wrong.

Now I have to confess I am a Christmas movie aficionado and love nothing more than to curl up in my blanket watching someone’s life changed around the holiday season. They tend to follow the same plot: there is a baddie who becomes a goodie, there is a victim who is vindicated, and all characters end the film with warm fuzzies and a happy ever after. The santa character is a mystical person – part angel, part social worker who puts the world to rights. The children tend to be right and the adults tend to be wrong. Marriages are fixed or singletons are united in a true and loving relationship. Christmas movies are fantasy, but in the main follow principles that can be found in the bible:

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased;

and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matt 23:12)

and Matthew 5 the Beatitudes.

The movies themselves are cheap, made for tv movies that are usually vehicles for specific actors or singers. The sets can be seen moving and the lighting is atrocious, with shadows appearing in the wrong places, like a bad soap opera. All this is allowed because of the message of hope they bring and like bringing a daughter to a Justin Bieber concert, you just hope they get it: the hope they yearn for can only be found in Christ.

‘Clash of the Santas’ did none of this, there were no warm fuzzies that could lead a person to discover Jesus. From the press pack, the following excerpts:

‘The essence of the story, in true Christmas style, is about the power of believing in Santa Claus. Will Howie become a true believer?’

The writer, Jeff Pope says,

“But the real struggle was the story within the story. That question again: ‘Do you believe in Santa Claus?’ Unfortunately there are some people who don’t, who would like to spoil it for those of us that do. Howie Scott is one of them, and Colin Armstrong spends the entire film trying to persuade him to change his mind. Belief in Santa Claus goes to the very heart of Colin as, I suppose, it does in me.”

One of the main actors, Robson Green says,

“That Christmas is only magic if and when we believe it’s magic. Santa is real if and when we believe Santa is real. Clash of the Santas is really about having faith in the magic and wonder of Christmas.”

Reading the entire press pack, there was one thing missing, Jesus, and for me the true meaning of Christmas is remembering back 2000+ years to when God came down to earth and that He’s coming back again. It is a joyous celebration of the birth of Christ tinged with sadness for what we, as humanity did to him and with anticipatory excitement of Him returning.

So yes I love to watch Christmas movies, but now I have discovered they have to dovetail with God, if there they are only based on the ‘magic’ of Christmas without the substance of faith and belief in God. At the end of ‘A Christmas Carol’, a book which has been adapted into dozens and dozens of Christmas films ends with an apt ending to this piece:

“God Bless Us, Every One!”

caper sauce

Fern

I have been reading Sarah Willis’ book Caper Sauce, under her pen name Fanny Fern she amongst other things coined the phrase “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”

She was fiesty woman, who married three times, was the highest paid columinst of her day and came in for lots of criticism for her autobiography, ‘Ruth Hall’

I was heartened by this piece which eventually gets to the issue of parenting and she has sound advice for those of us going through a time with our care.

The Good Old Hymns by Fanny Fern

Did you never know any person who was brought up on the good old Zion-hymns, whom they ever failed to move to the foundations when heard? The feet moving on unholy errands linger on their way past the church door, as the melody floats out upon the air. That man—who has wasted life, and energy, and talent, which might have blessed mankind, to reap only the whirlwind—he is back again with his little head upon his mother’s lap, while she sings that same hymn, which will never grow old, about “the beautiful river.” His eyes moisten as he thinks how pained she would be, were she living, to know him now. The hymn ceases, and the low benediction follows, and as the worshippers emerge, he recollects himself, and with an impatient pshaw! passes on. What, he moved at a “conventicle hymn”? He, who for years has never crossed the threshold of a church! He? who believes neither in prayer nor priests, Bible nor Sundays? He, who has “outgrown all that”? Ah! but he hasn’t. He can’t outgrow it. It is there. It will come, whether he desires it or no. Come in spite of all his efforts to laugh or reason it away. Come, though he lives in open derision and mockery of that religion whose[Pg 186] divine precepts he cannot efface from his mind. Come, as it did to John Randolph, who, after years of atheism and worldliness and ambition, left on record, “that the only men he ever knew well and approached closely, whom he did not discover to be unhappy, were sincere believers of the Gospel, who conformed their lives, as far as the nature of man can permit, to its precepts.” “Often,” he says, “the religious teachings of his childhood were banished wholly by business or pleasure; but after a while they came more frequently, and stayed longer, until at last they were his first thoughts on waking and his last before going to sleep.” Said he, “I could not banish them if I would.”

“Now and then I like to go into a church,” said a young man apologetically to a companion who was deriding the idea. “Priestcraft! priestcraft!” exclaimed his companion. “Tell me what possible good can it do you?” “Well,” said the young man, “somehow, when I hear those hymns it is like hearing the pleading voice of my mother as I left home to become the graceless fellow I am now. I cannot tell you how they move me, or how they make me wish I were better. If I ever do become better, it will be because I cannot separate them from all that seems, in my better moments, worth embodying in the word ‘home.'” Walter Scott said to his son-in-law, when he was on his death-bed, “Be a good man, Lockhart—be a good man; nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here.” It were easy to multiply instances where earth’s gifted[Pg 187] and greatest have borne similar testimony, after having tested all that the world had to offer, as an equivalent for “that peace which passeth all understanding.”

Parents sometimes say with tears, my boy has forgotten all my teachings. You don’t know that. You can’t say that till the grave closes over him. Said a good mother I knew, who kept on singing those hymns, and whose faith never faltered through long years, when her only son disgraced the family by intemperance, “John will come right by and by. He must.” And day after day, when he was brought home helpless, the mere wreck and libel of manhood, she smilingly repeated to all cavillers: “John will come right. I know it. Every day I ask God to give him back to himself, and I know He will do it.”

And John did come right. Out of that horrible pit of degradation he emerged “clothed and in his right mind.” He is now in good business standing, owns the house he lives in, is the comfort and pride of the patient wife who, with his mother, waited woman-like, Christ-like, all those weary years for his return. I myself have seen him in church, when the Sacramental wine was passed to him, bow his head reverently and humbly over the cup without raising it to his lips.

Never despair of a child who strays away from those hymns. Somewhere between the cradle and the tomb be sure those hymns will find him out.

Only he to whom heaven is a reality, can possibly [Pg 188] preserve his self poise in the jarring conflict of life. How can man, constantly disheartened and disappointed as he is, by the apparent triumph of wrong over right, by the poverty of those of whom the world is not worthy, in contrast with the gilded, full fed, honoured wickedness which seems to give the lie to everything to which our better natures cling, how can man, under such circumstances, walk hopefully in the narrow path, if beyond and through the mists of the valley he discerns not the serene mountain-tops? No—only the Christian can say in view of earthly loss and disappointments: “It is well—let Him do what seemeth to Him good.” Only the Christian—nor need he be—nor is he—of necessity a “church member,”—can say—”Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

 

MY DAD’S THE ENGINEER

Engineer
We were none of us thinking of danger,
As the train sped on in the night,
'Till the flames front a burning forest. 
Made the passengers wild with fright,
Then a tiny maid near a window, with a smile, said,
"There's nothing to fear;
I'm sure that no harm will befall you,
My Dad's the engineer.
"Refrain.
"Daddy's on the engine, don't be afraid;
Daddy knows what he is doing,"
 said the little maid;
"We'll soon be out of danger, 
don't you ever fear;
Every one is safe, because my Dad's the engineer.
"With the sparks falling closely about us,
Thro' the flames we aped on so fast,
And the brave little maid's father,
Brought us thro' the danger all safe at last;
And the proud, sweet face of his lassie,
And the words of the calm, little dear,
Will live in my mem'ry forever,
"My Dad's the engineer." -Refrain.
Copyright, MDCCCXCV, by Henry J. Wehman.Words and Music by Charles Graham.

A new look at Charlotte Brontë

When you have been given a snapshot, or someone else’s viewpoint about a person and don’t bother to go looking for a more balanced version. You will, like I have just discovered, that person only exists in fantasy.

Charlotte-bronte

I imagined from other people’s telling and visiting the Parsonage at Haworth, that the Bronte sisters were plain, pious, weedy little things who wrote as part of a drab life. I imagined them terribly polite with exquisite manners who would never dunk a biscuit in tea. “Good” women, good Christian women who faced trials and tribulations head on and suffered, oh and produced great melodramatic novels.

The background: I was reading a book today,

SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS (XV-XIX CENTURIES)

ARRANGED BY M. DUCKITT & H. WRAGG 1913.

I was interested in Cowper’s letters with Newton and also Charles Lamb’s letter to Coleridge. A search term I used brought me to this letter of Charlotte Bronte to an un-named friend. She shows some fire. In other bits I have read and of the images now seen refreshed, she is certainly not plain and possibly had a lover, Monsieur Heber in Brussels

I now have to go find the real Charlotte, or my snapshot of her to get a more balanced view.

A letter from Charlotte to a friend bemoaning curates and admitting temper.

[1845.]

You thought I refused you coldly, did you? It was a queer sort of coldness, when I would have given my ears to say Yes, and was obliged to say No. Matters, however, are now a little changed. Anne is come home, and her presence certainly makes me feel more at liberty. Then, if all be well, I will come and see you. Tell me only when I must come. Mention the week and the day. Have the kindness also to answer the following queries, if you can. How far is it from Leeds to Sheffield? Can you give me a notion of the cost? Of course, when I come, you will let me enjoy your own company in peace, and not drag me out a-visiting. I have no desire at all to see your curate. I think he must be like all the other curates I have seen; and they seem to me a self-seeking, vain, empty race. At this blessed moment, we have no less than three of them in Haworth parish—and there is not one to mend another. The other day, they all three, accompanied by Mr. S., dropped, or rather rushed, in unexpectedly to tea. It was Monday (baking-day), and I was hot and tired; still, if they had behaved quietly and decently, I would have served them out their tea in peace; but they began glorifying themselves, and abusing Dissenters in such a manner, that my temper lost its balance, and I pronounced a few sentences sharply and rapidly, which struck them all dumb. Papa was greatly horrified also, but I don’t regret it.

goodbye friend

Dear Friend,

We have had some times together, haven’t we? Got in some scrapes, you were my rebel friend, for many years you defined who I was. We lost contact for, how long was it? Oh yes, five years. Stuff happened in those years that you don’t know about. Stuff that you wouldn’t ever be involved in.

Daft as it sounds those five years were special, I hold them in a place of wry smugness, the things I did, that normally I wouldn’t. You see, you were my normal, thirty one years of normal, then five years of un-normal, un-rest, unconventional in your terms. I let you back into my life at the weirdest of times.

You were just there hovering in the background of a bar in Kamari. Wafting around when my usual drug of choice was not working, straight vodka on ice. I hadn’t had vodka touch my lips in fifteen years. I had stayed tight lipped as Smirnoff Ice and it’s ilk were marketed. I so wanted to try them but refused, and yet, in that bar in Kamari, it was my first choice.

Never having had a yen for anything mindbending in an illegal sense, although the aroma of spliffs were also in the mix in Santorini. I made a decision, one that I have regretted ever since. If only I had a human to talk to, one that understood confidentiality, one that would never bring it up again.

I had prayed, I had been praying since Wednesday, but my prayers like my mind were skewed. Skewed by a sense of misplaced and appropriately placed responsibility. Even writing about it now I have all the same symptoms that I remember, all the same symptoms I have always remembered from times before I was a cognizant being.

So I invited you back into my life, how easy it was, old friend. We slipped back into our old habits, we spent more and more time together, but you had to go. I have spent a few months without you over the last five years and spent many months thinking about leaving you again. Now is the time, I have to say goodbye to you. I will miss you, but unfortunately I cannot have you in my life.

You are an unhealthy friend, I can’t walk with you, I can’t run with you, I can’t swim with you. You have been there around my life forever. I was introduced when I was eleven. For thirty years I could not imagine life without you but having that five years, I know I can have a life, a much better, healthier life on my own.

You are not the only change in my life that I will be making but you are the first and so now, tonight I will say goodbye, farewell, not adieu, you are leaving my life and I am joyful about it, though I acknowledge I will miss you,

With love for the good times we had,

Suzie