Category Archives: home


Belfast how you’ve grown.

I was barely gone, on the scheme of things

But I barely know you and

Cannot put my finger on

What it is that makes me love you and yet

Feel still so far away.

Crowds are lonely even when there are

Familiar faces.

Faces drawn on bravely,

Drawn on a wall, peace walls.

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Thursday, 30 January, 2014 · 4:48 pm

5 of the reasons a “Returning Medium-Term Missionary” might seem a bit weird.

1. “Home” is no longer a clear-cut concept.  Asking ‘how does it feel to be home?’ is likely to be met with a blank look and, at best, a muttered half-truth or at worst, sobs.

2. Feelings change in direct relation to the ticking of a clock, so any question which relates to said feelings (how does it feel to be back? do you feel the cold? do you fancy a cup of tea?) probably means the answer has already changed 4 or 5 times before your voice even has a chance to inflect the question mark.

3. A big part of the brain still operates in a foreign language or some mixed-up version thereof, franglais par exemple.  Therefore common words and phrases like ‘toothbrush’ and ‘go for a walk’ are blanked out and one speaks in structures of sentences bizarre.

4. A big part of the body still carries the habits of the etiquette of the other culture.  When we need to walk past each other in the street, you will politely move over to your left as I politely move over to my right only to discover you’re still in MY way.  At which point, it becomes a game of chicken.  May the best foreigner win.

5. Everything is relative.  Every situation is open to comparison – it wasn’t like this where I was, when I was here before it was like that, I never used to see this, I always used to do that…  The possibilities for difference and discovery and naming of difference are endless as well as the ways in which those differences are important or not.  “Left-hand side of the road, Left-hand side of the road, LEFT-HAND side of the road…”

Tomorrow… a few survival tips (for all involved!) on dealing with a ‘Returning Medium-Term Missionary’ who might seem a bit weird.

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Filed under change, culture, grace, home, story


Remember that night you were coming home late

And I stood up at the window in the door while you were putting your key in the lock?

You screamed blue murder and alarmed the neighbours

While I crossed my legs and we laughed til our bellies ached.



Remember that night I came home to an unexpected correspondance;

I fell to my knees at your door and wept?

You too wore out knees and tissues

While I grieved and doubted and raged, we sobbed til our throats were raw.



Remember I used to leave ends of old baguette on the kitchen counter

Like a little present unasked for but not entirely unexpected?

You’d smile and leave it there til I’d remember what I’d done

And we’d laugh and sit down to eat your diet soup without bread while the cat scratched at our jeans.



Remember we refused to get a television because we were oh so cultured darling,

And we put your PC in the corner out of the way, because there was nowhere else for it?

You’d casually switch it on, slip a DVD in the drive and with a sideward glance at my nod

We’d watch Friends back to back til bedtime.



Remembered vignettes of a shared life, a witnessed life, a different life;

Moving in, moving out, moving on…

Things change, memories make it worthwhile

But now I have to do all the dishes.

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Filed under change, friends, home, humour, poetry, story

Rambling (but not so random) reflections on the way things might be

Darkness is the absence of light.  Evil is the absence of good – or rather of God.

In giving his creatures love, creator God gave his creatures the choice of not-love.  In plucking that fruit from that tree, the creatures sought Me-ness which is, indeed, not-love.  In the way that love is light, not-love is the absence of that light and in the way that love leads to light, to the Light, not-love leads to darkness, to not-light.

Where there is light, there is no room for darkness; where there is love, there can ultimately be no not-love.

Creator God promises to one day reveal the fullness of Light to those who choose Love.  Not only will those who chose not-love not be able to support that Light, neither will that light be able to support its darkness – there will simply be no room.  Darkness is nothingness, light is fullness.  Where there is fullness there can be no nothingness, no not-fullness.

For those who live in Love, who live in Light, they will no longer know not-love or not-light.  Where there is fullness, there can be no nothingness, no not-fullness.  If not-love and not-light are allowed entry, there is not fullness – Love and Light are not full.

One day not-love, not-light and not-fullness will be put away and Love and Light will reign in all His fullness.  And we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

(Oh yeah, oh yeaaahhh)


Filed under beauty, God, gospel, grace, happiness is, home, Jesus, love, perfect love, perspective, sin

Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Having already rocked this small corner with posts about these things, it would be remiss of me not to pass on the link first found at FaithinIreland to Shored Fragments’s post here about the above subject.  Let me know what you think!

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Filed under bible, church, freedom, gospel, home, men, relationships, women


What is it that makes home, home?  Is it the location?  The roof over your head, the bed to sleep in? Is it a certain smell as you open the front door?  Is it the feel of that chair at the end of a hard day? Is it the company; the routine; the familiar faces as you eat your dinner?  Or the conversation; the easy silence as you sit at the table?  Is it familiarity?  Comfort? Safety?

I imagine it is indeed devastating to be without a roof over your head – the loss of somewhere to go at the end of the day.  I don’t mean to make light of it in any way.  But could a sense of homelessness not also come from other circumstances beyond the bricks and mortar?

A child neglected by drunken parents.  An adult orphaned. A wife abused by a violent husband. A mother grieving the loss of her children’s father.  An unmarried pensioner whose friends are too busy with their grandchildren these days.  A younger sister frozen in time in the minds of siblings who moved away.  An older brother who has to clean up his brother’s mistakes.  A grown daughter the only one left living where she grew up.

Some of it is just how life goes.  Paths merge and divide, cross and pass…  Some of it comes through mistakes, some through fault.

But I don’t think its just losing a roof that makes you homeless.

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Filed under home

Food for Thought…


It may surprise some of my more familiar readership that I can cook.  I don’t always particularly revel in the task, often chucking some pasta and sauce in the oven does of an evening meal.  But this is one meal I and my (slightly obsessed with ‘pretty’ food) housemate particularly enjoy  having ‘created’ and would greatly recommend you try.  Particularly if you’re a bit cook-lazy like me!  You basically stick it in the oven and do some last minute stir-frying after sitting on your bum for 15 minutes!

Lime & Ginger Salmon parcels with stir-fried chinese veg and noodles for two.

Buy fresh salmon fillets, making each into a foil parcel with a wedge of butter, half the juice of a lime for each, place some shredded ginger on top and finish off with a slice of lime.  Seal the foil parcels and cook in the oven for about 15-20mins at about 200 degrees Celsius.

Stir fry the veg (we cheat and use m&s chinese veg pack inc carrots, babycorn, broccoli, spring onions, mange tout and pakchoi – i suggest that peppers would interfere with the overall flavour-effect,  but each to their own!) in balsamic vinegar and stir in egg-fried noodles and pine nuts. This bit only takes about 5 minutes toward the end of the salmon’s cooking time.

Whack the cooked Salmon on a bed of the noodles and veg and drizzle over the buttery-limey-gingery goodness from the foil parcel.

Serve on piping-hot plates as the stir fry can cool pretty quickly!

And enjoy!


Filed under creativity, happiness is, home, random

The Return

The city awaits

Like a held breath and butterflies.

A longing of which

The anticipation is half the pleasure.

Familiar territory made strange by absence,

Laden with memory,

Exotic with change.

I will come again to your streets



Where I will be free once more

To lay bare the secrets you once exhaled,

Whispered to a younger soul

Much lighter than mine.

My feet are no strangers to your streets,

Nor my eyes to your sight.

But who it was that took them there is a mystery

That I alone cannot fathom.

Change, when it is not height,

Can only be measured

By omniscience and eternity.

And so it is that I come;

An estranged wife,

A tourist in my own hometown,

A vagabond who dropped something

And came back to search.

There are glimpses of me

But only as I see her:

T-shirt in winter

And him:

Hairwaxed swagger

And them:

Wizened hands sticky,

Still fishing, still selling,


Change, when it is not height,

Can only be measured

In light of the

Unchanging – not because it is simple,

But already taller than height,

Wider than width,

Deeper than depth –


And so I leave those streets behind.

There where the unknown meets the unseen,

The is meets what has been,

And what will be, will be…

I Am.

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Filed under beauty, change, France/French, home, poetry, random, story, travel

You don’t know Jack

A couple of weeks ago during a random trip to Omagh (the same trip I was “encouraged” by a story of a woman who ended up marrying her dead best friend’s husband and mothering their children… There’s hope for all of us, eh?!?), I learned of the latest attempt of Northern Ireland’s tourist board to ‘reclaim’ some of the famous people and things born and bred in Northern Ireland.  We have clawed back the Titanic (that majestic, unsinkable, sunken ship) and now we’re taking back C.S “Jack” Lewis, if you please.

In Omagh, I was told of a CS Lewis bus tour around his hometown Belfast that had been running over the summer and would terminate on 14th September.  I loved the recent adaptation to film of the Narnian tale of Prince Caspian and have recently been inspired to re-read the whole series, so I decided I would invite some friends on the adventure of the CS Lewis Belfast Bus Tour.

It all started out well – with a cup of coffee in a warm cafe, but then we got on the bus…  A quick flashback to a general Belfast Bus Tour that I took a few years back with a South African friend where the tour guide (his name was Billy until we got to the Falls Rd where he changed it to “Liam”) declared that the History of the Irish and Irish History are two very different things!  You see, the first half hour of said CS Lewis bus tour was somewhat tenuous to say the least. 

The tour started at the Linen Hall Library where we were treated to lots of historical detail about the Linen factory that used to be on the site where the City Hall is currently.  All very interesting, but… eh… what’s that got to do with CS Lewis??  Jack.  Well… okay, it was because his father worked in it or knew someone that worked at it or something, but, still.  It hardly boded well for the £8 spent.

The sticky-floored bus chugged its way down Royal Avenue, which was beginning to look like a more favourable way to spend a Sunday afternoon than hearing random unrelated-to-cs-lewis stories.  However, I kept my cynicism at bay and when the tour came to a stop at Writers’ Square in the Cathedral Quarter I fair skipped off the bus to hoping to hear something a little more exciting.

No such luck.

Apparently CS Lewis’s father had a wedding reception at a hotel that no longer exists near this site because his office was in the building that stood just over there before they demolished it and built that new one.  Oh.  Right.

By the time we were standing on a muddy grass verge between a road and an ugly block of 1970s flats considering how CS Lewis’s brother stood on ‘this very spot’ to pick moss off the ground, or how a scout troop were over there in ‘that very spot’ (not that building of course – the one that got demolished to put that one up) when CS Lewis’s death was not announced, I was concentrating more and on poking holes in the soft ground with my golf umbrella and a rather cynical blogpost was beginning to brew.

I’m not entirely sure what I had been expecting, especially since I knew “Jack” Lewis had spent most of his life in England, however I was still most unimpressed.

And then…

Then we went to Little Lea, the house in which CS Lewis grew up.  Its privately owned now and we could only stand at the bottom of the driveway and peer through the foliage at its intriguing roofing and large windows.  And then as the guide began to explain the young Jack’s life exploring the long corridors and dusty attics of the house, this is really where I began to be transported into the story.  On this very spot.

For those of you who haven’t read the Chronicles of Narnia, the first book in the series is The Magician’s Nephew and it begins in the context of a series of attics, the second book (first one written I think) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe begins in the context of children exploring long corridors in a big old house…  Suddently I ached to be allowed into that house, to see with my own eyes the corridors, the wooden floorboards, the creaking attics where once upon a time a young boy sat writing stories of talking animals in an imaginary world of his own creating.

From then on, I was hooked.  I hardly noticed when the guide postulated on many a thing tenuously linked to CS Lewis’s grandmother’s step-brother’s dog’s handkerchief…  My imagination was in overdrive.  When we drove up into the grounds of Campbell College where Lewis attended school, I could see him as a young child trudging up the tree-lined avenue towards another humdrum day at school, pausing in the snow to contemplate an old-fashioned gas lamp light;  I could see Mr Tumnus hurrying past that lamppost with his brown paper packages; I could see Lewis seeing Lucy seeing Mr Tumnus seeing Lucy…

Now, I know he didn’t write those stories whilst walking to school in Belfast, or didn’t model Aslan purely on the brass door knob of the Rectory at St Mark’s Church, but I love that he really did grow up in Belfast and that there really are places in the city where we could say CS Lewis stood on “this very spot”…

I love that there is something about places where memories are created, that there are smells we smell, sounds we hear, sights we see that transport us from the here and now to times gone by, to stories long finished and loves long lost.  I love it.

And I love Belfast.

The tour finished with a gathering to contemplate Ross Wilson’s “The Searcher” CS Lewis sculpture at the Hollywood Arches where I devoured the attached letter from Jack to a little girl explaining the messages behind the pictures of The Chronicles of Narnia.  All this reminds me how much I love the written word; the power it can have to evoke sights, smells and sounds we’ve never even encountered and yet make them our own…  Incredible. To hear from his own pen Lewis’s desires for his books is to allow us to touch what he touched, smell what he smelled and walk where he walked in order to see what he saw and love it like he did.


Yours truly,

A converted CS Lewis Bus Tour Cynic off to buy several CS Lewis books.


Filed under beauty, creativity, home, story, Uncategorized