This was Easter
A Chara… dear friend, in Irish ~
Easter this year was overcast in Ireland. It was cool and a little blowy. It was muted and undramatic. Yet, it was an Easter where I sensed the slow growth of new life, the gradual blooming of hope for a new future.
As you may have heard in the news, it’s been a big month for Northern Ireland. It was a time of remembering the Good Friday Agreement 25 years ago, marking the progress made since then, recognizing the progress still needed, and celebrating the chance to recommit to building peace in this place. Many dignitaries popped in to Belfast - Biden, the Clintons, George Mitchell, Joe Kennedy III, Prime Ministers past and present, Irish Taoiseachs (Prime Ministers) past and present. And many, many individuals and organizations who did the painstaking work of building a more peaceful society on a daily basis came together to celebrate how far we’ve come, and to look towards our future together.
Amid marking this significant anniversary, we also went about our rhythms of Holy Week and Easter, the story of emerging from the Troubles intersecting with the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The high profile events were significant, but it was the far more subtle moments that were the most poignant for me. Sitting in the Croí (the worship space at Corrymeela) with long-time members and peace builders, washing each other’s hands on Maundy Thursday. Gathering for a brief liturgy on Good Friday, recognizing our culpability in the cruelties of this world. Taking an hour to be in Holy Silence on Holy Saturday with a handful of Bless My Feet friends. Singing Hallelujahs in a candle-lit space on Easter morning, and then watching children hunt exuberantly for eggs. Walking with the family on a cloudy Easter afternoon, with the yellow gorse smelling of coconut and newborn lambs racing through open fields.
TV, radio, dignitaries, large audiences, historic gatherings - these were all exciting to be involved with, to hear about, and to know were happening close to home. But it was the muted moments, the quiet reflections, the spacious silences, the tender memories, the small acts of faith that brought me a deep hope for the future. It was in these ways that I came in touch with the slow growth of new life, and the gradual blooming of a new future.
Thought for the Day, Radio Ulster
Last month, I was invited to be a part of the rotation of faith leaders in Northern Ireland who offer what’s called a “Thought for the Day.” These thoughts are broadcast at around 7:30am as a brief interlude amid whatever news the day brings. My prerecorded “thoughts” were surrounded by news both mundane and monumental: road construction, a tragic school shooting, Biden’s visit, and Easter. They’re two and a half minutes long, and if you’ve been following Bless My Feet for a while, you’ll notice some recurring themes and stories. The last thought (a new one), around women telling the story, was a way of being gently provocative in my context here, where the question of women in ministry is currently active. The Bless My Feet forum has been a good way for me to explore my thoughts, share them with you, and now I’m honored to have the opportunity to share some of those thoughts with a larger audience through Radio Ulster.
20 March: Nights Walks
27 March: Music as Prayer
4 April: The Wisdom of Silence
13 April: Women Telling the Story
It was such a privilege to be involved this month in celebrations of the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. You can view two services we were involved with, both of which were extremely moving to be a part of.
Maundy/Holy Thursday Service for the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement - a televised (RTE Irish national TV) service, featuring past president Mary McAleese, political and religious figures, and victims of sectarian violence
Recommitment at Clonard - a Service of recommitment to peacebuilding featuring diverse voices in Northern Ireland, organized by Corrymeela and held at the historic Clonard monastery in Belfast
Celtic Psalms is doing a new thing…
After singing together for a decade, we are beginning a new chapter… Stay tuned for more soon!
Upcoming Live Performances
Friday 2 June 2023 7:30pm – 10 Year Anniversary Concert, Black Box, Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, N. Ireland. Bookings will open NEXT WEEK!
July 13-23, 2023 – Hymn Society of United States and Canada, Montréal, Canada and NORTHEAST TOUR… if there’s a venue where you think we should hold a concert, anywhere between New Jersey and Montréal, let me know!
You can always check our concert page if you’re wondering where we’re performing next
Along with a co-trainer, I will be offering trainings in the Community Resilience Model (CRM), a model out of the Trauma Resource Institute, co-founded by Elaine Miller-Karas. We have three dates and locations below, and we will be circulating further information to anyone who is interested in learning more. Please respond to this email if you’d like to be on that list.
Online Friday to Saturday, 9th-10th June
Corrymeela (residential) Monday to Wednesday, 25th-27th September
Calendar for 2023-24
So many great opportunities - retreats, trainings, concerts, pilgrimage - in the coming year! See them all in one place on my website:
I’d like to highlight the Resilient Spirit 5-Day Retreat/10-Day Pilgrimage in April 2024… It will features guest facilitators such as Pádraig O’Tuama, Paul Hutchinson and Sara Cook. See more on Progressive Pilgrimage’s website
Blessing for Our Journey
May the God of slow growth
fashion within us
in the tiniest increments
the buds of new life.
May the muted moments
and quiet reflections
lead us gently forward
into a hopeful future.
May the spacious silences
and the tender memories
and the small acts of faith
make us attentive
to the gradual blooming
of something we have
not yet seen -
of what we could only dream
might be possible.
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