Friday, 22 August 2008

Christ have mercy...

I took myself off to Edinburgh for a couple of days, enjoying the atmosphere of the Festival even though the rain came, and then the rain came, and then the rain came again....found myself in the Scottish Parliament (escaping from the rain). If you like your architecture contemporary and brutal, angular and in your face, this is the building for you. It is quite stunning although not sure many of those who have had to pay the bill for this building would agree. However, as you walk into the large foyer, you are greeted by a space which has a low vaulted ceiling - not unlike that you might expect to find in the wine cellar of a large vineyard, made from polished concrete. It had scattered randomly over the ceiling large crosses in relief and to me made made a very clear statement about the Christian influence in Scotland. This was a Christian nation it said.

As this is Festival time in Edinburgh, the Parliament had joined in too and there was a Festival of Politics going on which included amongst other things, an exhibition of the 2008 world Press Photo competition winners. These photographs were stunning and disturbing. Painful to look at yet compulsive viewing. This was not a collection of snaps that you could just glance at then immediately forget. More than once I found myself in front of an image with tears flowing down my cheeks as I engaged with the photograph - 80 year old Thabita carries her cat, the only possession she was able to salvage when her home burned down in Mathone, Nairobi during the recent unrest there; Benazir Bhutto addresses the crowd from her vehicle just as the bomb explores that kills her; Philomena waiting for an abortion having been raped the captions go on. These images that violated humanity juxtaposed with the crosses cut into the ceiling and I found myself saying 'Christ have mercy...' as I prayed through the image now carved into my soul.

To look at these photos yourself, either jump on a train to the Scottish Parliament or, follow this link.

Lord have Mercy.
Lord have Mercy.
Christ have Mercy.

Saturday, 2 August 2008


It has been a long time since I wrote anything gets in the way and you loose the habit!

Still, back again having just returned from a week's volunteering with the Corrymeela Community in Ballycastle being what is called the 'cover' person. What this involves is basically being responsible for the Health and Safety and hospitality in the Centre. If there's a fire, the Cover sorts it. If there is an accident, the Cover sorts it. If there are visitors to the Centre wanting a guided tour, the Cover sorts on and so forth - a support person who is watchful rather than busy. I say a week's volunteering but what I really mean is a week of listening to some of the most heart rending, love filled, hope inducing stories I have heard in ages...a week of witnessing love in action as teenage boys are shown 'good touching' by being taught to massage their mums; as young children experience gentle care at the hands of men when significant male figures are either missing or are the cause of great pain in their lives...a week of leading and being led in simple acts of worship where the presence of God was palpable even when the name of God was never uttered. What joy - what unspeakable joy and I am left wondering who was the volunteer or the groups that came to Corrymeela. I certainly felt more cared for than caring...and the fire alarm never went off once!