Favourite things

The side chapel:

IMG_8592Somewhat hidden from view, this small chapel in All Saints is used for daily services and special occasions. Here, the lamp is always kept burning; here, the sacred elements are kept during the week, looked after by watchful angels.


A day in Edinburgh

IMG_8929Yesterday, F. and I went to Edinburgh for the day. We’ve been meaning to go for ages and we still didn’t do all the things we could do. (I think my list of things I want to do in Edinburgh might be longer than F.’s…) We wandered around the National Gallery and then ate lunch sitting outside. It was a good thing we were sitting under the awning because just after our food arrived, it started POURING down rain! I was mostly protected, but F. caught the backsplash of rain hitting the pavement and the wind blowing the rain towards us. Fortunately we had umbrellas with us.

The rain had abated by the time we finished eating, so we went to Edinburgh Castle. I’ve been to Edinburgh Castle more times than I can count, but F. had never been. He got the benefit of my added commentary to the guide’s tour of the castle. We had tea and cake in Queen Anne’s tea room and spent time paging through the books of the dead in the war memorial. F. found a book of women personnel and a list of civilians killed during the two world wars. If I were a modern historian, I would study women in the military during the first and second world wars. I’m curious to read more about them, anyway.

IMG_8925  IMG_8938  IMG_8945

But the real reason we went to Edinburgh on Friday was because Andrew Peterson was playing in Edinburgh. Andrew Peterson is an American singer-songwriter, a great storyteller, and whose music is the among the best, most honest Christian music I’ve heard. I first heard him play when he opened for Nichole Nordeman about 11 or so years ago in San Antonio. He played from his album “Love and Thunder” then, and I was in love with the strong, folk harmonies of his music and the real-ness of his lyrics. His craft has only improved over the years and I was very excited to hear he was going to be playing in Edinburgh on his European tour. F. had never heard any of Andrew Peterson’s music, so I was also looking forward to introducing him to one of my favourite artists.

IMG_8943The concert was held in one of Edinburgh’s Baptist churches. The setting was intimate: tables and chairs and couches scattered in front of the stage, each table lit by a candle. His tour was part of his family holiday, so it was just him playing on the guitar or piano. He played songs from his most recent album, “Light for the Lost Boy”, as well as a few others. Among my favourites were, “Dancing in the Minefields”, “Shine Your Light on Me”, and “In the Night My Hope Lives On”. What I loved best about the concert was hearing his stories behind each song. His ten year-old daughter Skye joined him on stage to sing “The Voice of Jesus” and “Isle of Skye”, both songs he had written for her; her voice singing harmony brought tears to my eyes. As F. later said, Andrew Peterson’s music is “balm for the soul”.

It was also very nice for this ex-pat to be in familiar territory: Andrew Peterson has a Southern accent, many people in the audience were American, and it was an evangelical setting. I didn’t realise how tightened up I was until I settled down to listen to Andrew talk and sing. Sometimes this Texan gal just needs some familiar accents and music to relax.

We left the concert too late to catch the bus, so we went to the train station instead. I played with my camera while waiting for the train to come. This is the best of my experiments:

IMG_8957We got home nearly midnight, and then I woke up early for a very long and busy day at MUSA. But I’m listening to the album I bought last night (“Resurrection Letters, Vol II”) and I’m so glad we made it down to Edinburgh to see both the castle and the concert. It was a Very Good Day. 🙂

* As ever, click on the pictures to see larger versions.

Favourite things

My church:


Dressed in penitential purple for Lent. I know, my church has featured before, a few times. But each time I’ve provided a different picture of the church, so it’s all good… 🙂

Blue skies, blue gowns

The heavens smiled upon the first day of graduations this week. Blue blue skies, cottony clouds, bright sun, cool breeze. I watched four of my friends graduate in this morning’s ceremony, and also Noam Chomsky and A. S. Byatt receive honorary degrees.

Above: Noam Chomsky getting his hood; Below: Ros being a fangirl with Noam Chomsky.


Ros and I are so decorous. No really. Below are my four friends who have all graduated now, and one by one will be leaving our seaside town. I have the bad habit of befriending people just as they are preparing to leave. Our church, All Saints, will not be the same without Rob, Ros, Chris, and Allie.

And to think, in a couple of years this will be me… and I will be the one wearing the blue PhD gown!

Favourite things

Lamps, trimmed and burning:

This is what the acolyte sitting in front of the altar sees when they are facing forward. (Well, directly across from them sits the subdeacon, so this is what they see if they look up while looking forward.) Seven lamps hang in front of the altar, trimmed and burning. It has been such a blessing to be an altar server at my church — my church here is definitely one of my favourite things.

‘Low Sunday’

This is what the vestry looked like this morning:

Well, sort of. Today was ‘low Sunday’, so the choir was allowed a day-off after Holy Week madness, and the Jonathan and Sheila were on holiday. We had a baptism today which included an extra clergy and the new lay reader was standing in as sub-deacon. Also, nothing in the vestry had been laid out over the weekend. It was a bit manic this morning preparing for the service, and it took all of us whispering to each other to make sure the service ran smoothly and in order. Thank goodness Sheila will be back next week. We fall apart without her!


Today is All Saints.

All Saints is one of my favourite holidays in the church calendar (and not only because it’s my church’s feast of title, meaning we had a huge pot luck dinner after the service tonight). It is when we are really reminded of the community of believers that we are a part of, the family of Christ, spanning across centuries. ‘But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.’ (Luke 20.37-38) There are the ‘heroes’ of the faith, martyrs and missionaries of the distant past, but they are not ‘superheroes’ — they may be people to look up to, admire, but also remembering that they were — are — people, people who loved God and needed his help. It was not by their own strength, their own energy, their own faith that they led lives that caught the attention of the world, that earned them the posthumous title of ‘saint’. They, too, had to rely on God. But the saints are not limited to those found in various church calendars.

In his sermon tonight, Father Jonathan commented on the variety of circumstances saints have had, from the distant past to recent history. Some were active, others contemplative; some were reformers, some safeguarded tradition; and so on. Each and every one of us, once we have been claimed as one of Christ’s own, is called to a life of holiness, a life of sainthood. (I hope Jonathan puts his sermon on the website archive, because there was one particularly poignant passage that I wish to quote directly.) There is a path of sainthood for all of us, even with our individual idiosyncrasies, talents, weaknesses, and dreams. In keeping with the beloved temporal paradox found in Christian faith: we are saints, we are all called to become saints.

This comes at a time when I have been praying recently that I would not learn to trust God more, but that I would just go ahead and trust him. To stop ‘learning’ and ‘do’. Time for the practical application. Now, what does that look like? I am finding out.

Word count: 2413.*

* Throughout the month of November I will include the current word count of my NaNoWriMo novel at the end of the post.

Hi, My Name Is

The Sharpes, Ackers, and I usually sit near each other at church and then stand together during tea and coffee afterward. This Sunday, however, Jesse (of the Sharpes) and Faith (of the Ackers) were both away.

A woman who is new to the church walked over to me and Isaac during the coffee time and said, “I thought I would meet some of the other families with kids.”

“Hi,” I said, shaking her hand. “I don’t have any kids.” Already beginning to be confused, she then asked if Isaac was a student (she didn’t ask me). He said no, he wasn’t, but his wife is, and that his wife is away that week. Then she looked at me, again, even more confused. “I’m a student in the School of English, and I work in the same building as his wife,” I said. I pointed at Casey. “The boys are hers. Her husband is also a student and I share an office with him.”

It was an honest mistake: Isaac and I were standing together, I helped Casey with the boys during Communion. This is just one more chapter in how we have managed to thoroughly confuse the congregation of this church. Fortunately I’m no longer complimented for my well-behaved boys (the little old ladies have finally figured out that both boys belong Casey), but I’ve also been asked if I’m related to the Sharpes (well, the boys do call me Aunt), or if I live with them (I suppose we do always arrive and leave together).

Perhaps to prevent any future confusion, now that the Ackers are involved, we should start wearing name tags…