Tuesday, May 24, 2005

deep breath


the old gardener's prayer says, "you are nearer God's heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth". not hard to believe when one gets to spend the weekend weeding, digging, planting, tending and getting one's hands in the soil. frees the mind. i got to be barbara goode for two days and it felt wonderful.

alas all the relaxed contemplation of working the soil in sunshine and showers was not enough to stave off the incredible stress that is monday. it's on days like these i wish i knew how to kick box. my plans to blog last night with the still untold story of the strange and mystical spookiness of a night out in dublin a week ago were put aside to do something i haven't had to do in quite awhile - rocking out in the kitchen until the tunes broke my spirit and had me celebrating again. they are like old friends - i know which ones i need to go to - to provide a soundtrack that moves from reflecting my angry and sore state of mind to encouraging a better state of being.

tuesday is better and frou frou's Let Go has proved to be track of the day, not for the first time.

Let Go

Drink up baby down - Are you in or are you out? - Leave your things
behind - 'Cause it's all going off without you - Excuse me too busy - you're writing a
tragedy - These mess-ups - You bubble-wrap - When you've no idea what you're like

So, let go - Jump in - Oh well, what you waiting for? - It's all right - 'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown - So, let go - Just get in - Oh, it's so amazing here - It's all right - 'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown

It gains the more it gives - And then advances with the form - So, honey, back for more - Can't you see that all the stuff's essential? - Such boundless pleasure - We've no time for later - Now you can wait - You roll your eyes - We've twenty seconds to comply

So, let go - Jump in - Oh well, what you waiting for? - It's alright - 'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown - So, let go - Just get in - Oh, it's so amazing here - It's all right - 'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown

tonight at tuesday group we'll talk about jonah in the belly of the whale and aim to be surprised by the resonance it may yet hold now that we're all grown up and don't believe in bizarre and miraculous fairytales. we've all got a whale somewhere in our story.

hello to jude, padraig, annie, pip, trevor, nathan, andrea. thank you for your constancy. it's got nothing to do with how little or often we speak - you are always in my conversations. and when i rock out on the tiled floor it's you that i'm dancing with. and you look damn fine when you shimmy and shake let me tell you.

listening to "burn the maps" as i munch on my salad. gonna take a "moment".

blessings and love, as ever

community . . . being bubble wrap.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


have sojourners been listening in our conversations?

The experience of losing your faith, or of having lost it, is
an experience that in the long run belongs to faith; or at least it can belong
to faith if faith is still valuable to you, and it must be or you would not have
written me about this. I don't know how the kind of faith required of a
Christian living in the 20th century can be at all if it is not grounded on this
experience that you are having right now of unbelief. "Lord, I believe; help my
unbelief" is the most natural and most human and most agonizing prayer in the
gospels, and I think it is the foundation prayer of faith.
- Flannery O'Connor

(received today in sojomail)


last night was rufus at the waterfront. it was a beautiful, stunning experience. my two colleagues i had in tow are now committed fans. we had wonderful seats and when rufus sat at the piano we had an uninterrupeted view almost straight on at the same level. we got to look into his face as he sang. amazing. last night of the tour. a two hour set. 2 encores. 3 standing ovations.

but. . .

the evening was tinged with a surreal state of shock. but for that we have to rewind a few hours.

when one of the aforementioned colleagues was made redundant an hour before we left the office to go on our girls night out one knew the night would be bittersweet. i assumed that this was the bad news of the day and we shared a drunken dinner in solidarity and had the kind of conversation that women know how to have best.

five minutes before rufus came on stage i headed back a few rows to greet my chum ricky. and here came shock number two. but to understand that we need to go back several days.

on sunday evening an american backpacker died in suspicious circumstances. possibly fell from a window at her hostel. a post mortem on monday. then a murder investigation. the only witness became chief suspect and was then released without charge. i had heard brief reference on local radio but had not been following the case. i had passed the scene on monday entirely unawares and had merely looked with curioisity at the police cordon.

what had passed me by entirely for two days was that this backpacker was known to me. for that we need to rewind back to the last friday in april.

ricky and i went to qft. we joined phil and a couple of girls he had met the night before at an art exhibition. the five us watched a wonderful argentinian film, el nina santa, together and spent the rest of the night in Duke's drinking guinness and having the kind of conversation you can have with strangers but rarely have with friends - spiked with confession and honesty. we laughed a lot. we engaged. mike joined us later in the evening. these two girls: ashly, 29, american, and hayley, 21, australian both remarked what an amazing community ricky, phil and i seemed to be a part of. they liked belfast. or more accurately, they liked the openess and warmth of the people. since then the boys have hung out with them. phil and ashly had clearly hit it off. connected.

ashly is now dead.

ricky just assumed i had heard on the grapevine or seen her name in the papers. i hadn't.
we intertwined our fingers as i sat . . .well . . . stunned. . .speechless. all i could do was hug his sad frame fiercely and say, i can't believe i didn't know. as if somehow i was guilty in my lack of awareness and thus had not been able to be present to these dear friends.

this morning i walked down the street where ashly died listening to ryan adams' shadowlands.

it's hard to grieve for someone you met just once even though you know intimate details of their lifestory that you don't even know about your closest friends. i grieve for her family and friends, for hayley who is so far from home, for ricky and for phil. he's in a bad way ricky says.

this is a small city. and our lives are inextricably intertwined.

you see, if michael were telling this tale he would take you back a week or two to a courthouse where he encountered a woman who on sunday was to be the only witness to ashly's death.

if my soon to be redundant colleague told you the tale she would take you back to sunday night, when she cried for her friends, who own a backpacker's hostel, which had been shattered by the unexpected death of a young guest.

when rufus sang cohen's hallelujah, i believed again. and last night through tears i prayed for the first time in a very long time,

for her. for them. for me.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005


i am off work. sick. have been decidedly under the weather since my last posting.

sorry to miriam who tells me she has been checking in and coming out disappointed at lack of updates.

was in dublin at weekend, where something intimately spooky happened. well worth a blog but right now i don't have the energy so you'll have to wait.

going back to feeling sorry for myself and trying to get energy up for tuesday group.

tomorrow is rufus live! please God i will be back on form. please. God.

i hope this finds you all well and joyful.

congrats to trev on getting his green card. hope you and jenna can make it to gb05. :0)



Thursday, May 12, 2005

move off the page

From tuesday night group's reflections comes this beauty of a prayer, read by Michael, who's becoming the font of inspiration of the moment. . .it's by walt b.*

for a week now we have been cast in the role of

a week in the leisure class: air conditioning,
many books,
assured food,
free time,
with only a modicum of anxiety.

in our leisure we have watched you move from verse to verse,
noticed the force of your verbs,
pondered your elliptical textual pauses,
and now we dare to interrupt your anticipated sabbath
with one imperative, for a moment
not scholars but petitioners in urgency.

So listen up:
You, majestic sovereign...move off the page!
move off the page to the world,
move off the page to the trouble,
move out of your paged leisure to
the turmoil of your creatures.

move to the peace negotiations,
and cancer diagnoses,
and burning churches,
and lynched blacks,
and abused children.
listen to the groans and moans,
and see and hear and know and remember,
and come down!
Have no sabbath rest until your creatures rest well, all of us.
be your Friday self so that your world may be Eastered.
Move off the page!


can't really follow that, other than to say last night it was all about john caputo. he deconstructed jesus, and then gave his reading of "the messianic" that left me wanting to be a Christian for the first time in a very long time.


* walter brueggemann wrote and used this for his old testament theolgy D. Min class on 14 july, 2000. the layout is as is printed in
Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth - prayers of walter brueggemann. (Fortress Press, 2003)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

it all makes sense to me now. . .

well - i apologise for my distinct lameness in not getting round to posting anything for almost a week.
not sure whether this was a result of having nothing to say or too much. but i've logged a few things worth mentioning and will update each day this week with at least one.

so here's a snapshot of the people and things and thoughts that have been jumbling round in my head these past few days . . .

on the road with the archangel - my latest beuchner. the expectation that comes with ordering new birkenstocks. introducing nathan to dj shadow, figuratively speaking. jude actually meets dave grohl. jealousy. job satisfaction. friendship. secrets never to be told beyond the wine fueled dinner table. the fine line that seperates intimacy of friendship and physical attraction. Pad's intruiging but resulting delicious recipe for pancakes. flannery o'connor. what it is to be Christ haunted. electoral disatisfaction. the ethics of being an elected representative. the joy of getting one's hands into the soil and planting. chatting journalistic ethics with william crawley. chatting deconstruction in post modern-philosophy with john caputo. having the the in-laws to stay. not having time to write. chuck palahniuk. hearing trad session for the first time in ages and loving it. walter bruggemann. perfecting cous cous salad. chuck palahniuk and walter bruggemann. fight club and bruggemann's vision of covenantal community. must reread wise blood. still being christ haunted. dennison witmer takes my breath from me. the ethics of making money out of erotic fiction writing. . . .

as we got ready for work this morning, the following exchange took place, shouted between kitchen and bedroom, whilst the band in question oozed out the stereo:

Michael: "you know how boards of canada makes you think of childhood in some vague way that is hard to pinpoint?"
LB: " yes. . .?"
Michael: "daniel is listening to them at 3 and a half. so when he's in his thirties this same music really will remind him of his childhood. "
LB: "weird."

that has been the most intellectually stimulating moment of my day so far.


i. really. do. love. my. job.

one week to rufus. seven weeks to provence.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

in an instant

michael had disturbed dreams last night: a series of narrow escapes. this is story told to us by the protagonist as we commuted home on the 1730 to bangor last evening.

an acquaintance, a kind and open hearted fellow, full of entertaining stories from his employ as a high class travel agent, had a close brush with death last week. close. hairline. as narrow as the gap between the wallpaper and the plasterboard.

having missed his usual commuter train home this travel agent, with two adoring children waiting in their comfortable home on the outskirts of town, decided that rather than waiting the requisite 26 minutes for the arrival of the next one, he would take another line. time being of the essence if he was to make it, he concluded, in what would prove to be a momentary lapse of his sanity and sensibilities, that he would cross the tracks in the station rather than take the long route over the walk bridge. checked his watch, eyed the timetable, made his decision and turned toward the tracks, and with his toes on the edge of the platform he was confronted with the dublin-belfast express train flying through. wasn't just coming. it was there. flesh and steel. face to face. hadn't heard it. hadn't seen it. frozen to the spot with breath lost in his throat as the train hurtled past, the travel agent was buffeted by the turbulent air that filled the inch slim gap between his nose and the carriages rocketing by. less than a second from mortality. one step forward with his right foot and the express train would have hit him without his left even leaving the platform.

so out of character was this spontaneous recklessness that his wife would have told any subsequent inquest that he must have thrown himself intentionally under the train. suicide. no big insurance payout. no note of explanation or goodbye.

he waited for the next train home - 20something minutes to be spent idly on the platform now no longer seeming an inconvenience. his hands were shaking. his wife meanwhile would have be left for a lifetime. wondering why.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

a li'l bit o' wordplay

here's a little something i threw Pádraig's way the other day. he was more impressed at my poetic exercising than i anticipated and so thought i'd post it. oh - and it's not about him before you get any ideas. . .

what you'll never know . . .

It’s in the translation
This thing that you do to me
You're speaking words
you don't understand

Vowels leave your mouth
As expressions of
Consonants utter

Arrive at my ear
As confessions
And Desire
For Unspeakable acts
Of your
Undying p
And want

Works both ways
I’m Miss-Communication:

I utter words
That speak of my
My Desire
and passion
My unending want
Hardly veiled references to
unspeakable acts

You hear them as
And slickly dry humour
Or self-deprecation

Purely platonic?
Oh baby
Don’t think so

Everything we say
I interpret
With invention.