unfolding for the sounds of the city

12509070_10156394458740324_5831690278449904378_nClip-it-ti-clop, clip-it-ti-clop. The sounds of the city filter through my window. I lift my hands off the keys and exchange a view through the window of the worldww for the window of the world. I stretch, lengthening my body from its desk side curl. My eyes search the grey sky above me, triangle peak and red brick in front of me until they settle on the cobbles below. A smile tugs my mood upward as I spot the source of the noise interrupting my staring contest with the screen. A horse, saddled, with its owner are the only traffic between my building and the next.

The cobbles and the hooves have been here longer than the metal strips placed between them and the ding-ding of the Luas sliding by. The new city resembles these. It has reconstructed the inherited streets so that glass, metal and plastic can whisk us through them fluidly … in a hurry … forgetting to look outside … forgetting to listen.  But the windows were not forgotten in construction. They have been built into our modernity. The sounds can still seep through them. Our legs can still carry us and feet can still bridge the cobblestone gap. And the horse outside, it can still clip-it-ti-clop, clip-it-ti-clop. They can still disrupt and entice me to the window where I give thanks for the sounds of the city.

Longing

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I am Longing. At the edge of the garden, that first garden, I made my home with you. Grief rolled in waves down your cheeks as you looked back one more time to the place of belonging and wholeness you were denied. I dried your eyes. While you slept I whispered promises of restoration until the air sang a new harmony that sounded like hope.

I am Longing.

In the soul of the nation.

In the breath of the prophets.

In the scriptures and stories.

You grew tired of waiting and tried to expel me from your home. You don’t even recognise me anymore. You mistake me for Hurt and lash out at anyone who doesn’t heal you. You mistake me for Loneliness, and so move the people around in your life like furniture, as if the right combination will finally make me disappear. You mistake me for Disappointment and so take control of your life and everyone else around you.

But I am Longing.

I turn your stomach sour at the thought of where you are and hang a framed picture of promise of some unknown, impossible place that will dissolve your sleepless nights and endless days into realities so perfect, so unimaginable. The painter of it dipped his brush in joy to wash the sky and carved out peace across the earth.

I am Longing

In the girl who believed what God had said to her.

In the wise men who studied and searched the stars.

In the heart of the shepherds who got up day after day to do the same thing all over again.

I am Longing, more than anything, in the baby born that day. His longing was as the one who could make the pictures come to life, not as in a dream, but life more real than you have ever felt before. His longing was for you. I followed him to the grave and back again. He restored the home built for you, where you don’t just hear about belonging but can be filled with it again; where you aren’t in search of the pieces of yourself you lost along the way but are complete.

I am Longing. He made me his companion, and I followed him to you.

if i give you me, would it be enough?

11012191_975360895858913_6670742371155085826_nWhile handing out Christmas cards to friends in the community this week I was told, “Most people are only lovely at Christmas, but you are lovely all the time.” I was a bit tongue-tied as I wasn’t expecting a response like that when I was just passing through on my way home. I had those cards printed and signed for people in my life I wanted to bless with prayers of peace this season. I wasn’t really supposed to figure into their thoughts at all apart from them feeling loved and appreciated. Those words stopped me and turned my thoughts to the gifts we give people.

What if the best gift I could really give people is me? What if the best gift you could really give someone is you? These aren’t vulnerability questions. They are value questions.

What are you worth? You, with all your quirky likes and dislikes. You, with all the unique talents you possess that you don’t even think others would want to know about? Your smile. Your laughter. Your forgiveness. Your friendship. Your love. Your hospitality. Your handshake. Your kindness.

What are others worth to you? Him, with all his quirky likes and dislikes. Her, with all the unique talents she possesses. His smile. Her laughter. His forgiveness. Her friendship. His love. Her hospitality. His handshake. Her kindness.

Although I absolutely love the festiveness of the season we are in, those celebrations have very little to do with another event that lives in the depths of my soul. God gave us him.

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” (Matthew 1:22-23 … an explanation during Joseph’s inner turmoil about finding out about Mary’s pregnancy)

If I didn’t believe in Jesus I would still keep the Christmas traditions. We don’t exactly have too many feast & festivity dates on our calendar and I am convinced that we need them to help build healthy societies, even if they aren’t for spiritual purposes. I am also convinced that we could all do with at least a little of God with us, even at that moment when he seems so small and insignificant – a baby, a promise. The King of kings. Love incarnate. Prince of peace. Everlasting father. Saviour of the world. God with us … If there is any loveliness in me throughout the year it is because I walk with him and he makes me complete. I give you me because he gave me him. I took him up on the offer.

What gifts can we give that will last this year? What gifts will we recognise and accept from others?

caught up in this white-out, called peace

PeaceThe world goes silent as streets and gardens and fields are insulated under a thick layer of white. The first intricate clusters of snowflakes bring promise of silence, of a sort of temporary peace on earth where sounds are muffled into the pockets of air reserved to capture and hold all indication of chaos.

I dream of snow.

It is a white duvet of purity that slows down the speed of life, halting us in this moment, this place, these four walls. At the moment when movement becomes impossible, it presents a blank canvas of possibility. The world looks perfect draped in robes of glistening diamante of temporary splendor. A reverent hush subdues the noise of silence in the immediate settling of it. It is peace come to earth.

I dream of peace.

It is a hush whispering over the soul. Chaos is caught up between its particles and, for once, we are stilled and silenced long enough to really see the beauty of this present moment without removing us from it. It is gentle as it falls in a storm where white is all you see, purity is what you see. Gone are the thoughts that have set up false expectations wrapped in cheap, brightly coloured plastic. Gone are the images of everything we do not have, cannot have. Satisfaction is found here in our present relationships, in what we have and the warmth we share.

Welcome the peace. Invite it to come. Do not fear it. Let it bring promise of possibility. Let it still you.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.

Isaiah 9:6-7

 

lavender scented heat packs

2015-11-19 10.42.08-1The weather finally turned in Dublin, bringing in storms Abigail and Barney one after the other. Somehow, not all of our trees have figured it out that winter is coming. They are holding onto a few green leaves still. Days and weeks continue to roll over in spite of their ignorance … and Christmas is coming! The past week has been a busy one. There have been stockings to sew for the Christmas Fair in less than a week, Christmas cookies to bake and sewing classes to teach (amongst a few other things)!

This month I have started teaching two new 4 week beginner machine sewing courses. The first class is almost always one of my favourites. People who have never used a sewing machine before or who have had a bad experience eye their machine as if it has fangs. By the end of the first 2 hours they have worked out how to set it up, move their fabric through it with control, troubleshoot problems and come away with a project in hand! I have yet to have one person who doesn’t leave without a sense of accomplishment and renewed determination after the first class. The project that I love to have people complete during their first lesson is a lavender scented heat pack. It is quick and easy, practicing straight seams, pivot corners, back stitching (reverse stitching, bar tacking … loads of different names for going backwards and forwards a few stitches!), clipping corners and top stitching. Now that we have reached the cold weather, it comes as a particularly welcome project. If you would like to join us in warming up this winter, or are looking for the perfect small Christmas gift to make, you can download the pattern we use for the Lavender Scented Heat Pack. Want to sew with us?

walk around like the good work of art you are

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Imagine a world where art took in a breath and came to life. Imagine it walking through the streets stirring up questions about existence, about purpose, about possibilities. It would congregate where shadows gather, lighting up dark allies that strike fear.

Fear begins to pitch its tent in the streets around me. It sells its fortune-telling trinkets from stalls glittering in dark omens on every street corner, computer and smart phone. Fight, flight or freeze – natural responses, normal responses, survival responses.

But I want to respond differently. I don’t want to be afraid. It muddies the waters and stifles out life. It steals away joy and cauterizes contentment. I want to be beauty. I want to be art. I want to speak to these streets and shout, “It doesn’t have to be this way!”

In the beginning God created a sculpture from the earth, a work of art intended to live. I don’t particularly care about the techniques he used or how long it took him. The result was beautiful. And then he breathed into it. And it lived, perfectly, for a while until diluting the breath of God with toxic pride.

Fear came. Death came. Hatred came.

That is what we were made to be. Living works of art with the breath of God in us. We still can be, but it’s a little harder than before. We have to seek out his life in us. We have to pull down the bricks we’ve built around our hearts to keep us safe and let love in. Love will change us. It will pull back our shoulders and set our spines straight. It will clear our muddied thoughts and replace them with wisdom. It will seek and destroy lesions of bitterness that are slowly killing us.

We have a choice, this choice: stand at the stalls of fear, hide in self-preservation or light up the darkness. We cannot do more than one. Want to go on a walk with me?

I want to add to the beauty to tell a better story. I want to shine with the light that’s burning up inside. And this is grace, an invitation to be beautiful. ~ Sara Groves

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pumpkin rolo muffins

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People often ask me what foods I miss from Canada when they plan on visiting. What can they bring me? There aren’t too many things. Cheap syrup for pancakes and chocolate chips are usually the only things I think of. It isn’t until autumn that I also remember tinned pumpkin. I have tried baking using fresh pumpkin puree that I have made from local produce but nothing seems to work like that processed orange goo in a tin. I grabbed a couple tins when I was recently in the States and made one of my favourite seasonal muffins – those beautiful pumpkin Rolo muffins. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Rolo Muffins

Makes 12

  • Rolos
  • 1 Egg
  • ⅓ c. Canola oil
  • ½ c. Brown sugar
  • ¼ c. White sugar
  • 1 c. Pumpkin
  • 1 ½ c. Flour
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Ginger
  • ½ tsp. Allspice (or cloves)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda

Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
In one bowl beat mix egg, oil, sugar and pumpkin.
In second bowl mix all the other ingredients except the Rolos.
Combine wet and dry ingredients. Don’t over mix. Fill muffin cups to 3/4 full. Firmly place one Rolo on the top of each.
Bake for 18 minutes.