T should be for tardiness cos I’ve fallen behind in my A to Z Challenge, but today T is actually for Tallaght. My beloved home town 🙂
Tallaght has had a bad rap over the years, but I for one am proud to have been born and bred there. I was brought up in St. Maelruan’s Park, went to primary school in Our Lady of Loreto GNS (as it was then), and went to secondary school in Old Bawn Community School. I lived in Tallaght until I was 27. I worked in Dublin city centre while I was hairdressing and then worked locally in Xtra Vision on the Greenhills Road and then for The Echo Newspaper before moving to the UK in 1999. But my heart never left Tallaght.
I remember being sent to Reilly’s butchers for chops and I was to tell the butcher they had to be nice ones. (Never knew what that meant). I have a vague recollection of buying a lucky bag in Riordan’s shop in the village, but the shop I remember best is Conlon’s – officially known as The Lilac Centre 🙂 I spent a lot of time walking around the old Tallaght Town Centre. I bought my first record, ‘Hold Me Now’ by the Thompson Twins, in Radio Shack. And every so often, my brother sent me there for new needles for his record player. I bought my lipstick upstairs from the make-up stall and my cigarette (singular), with three matches and a corner of the matchbox from the kiosk. I would go shopping with my mam in H. Williams, until she changed to Dunnes Stores in Kilnamanagh, which was a long walk or a bus ride away if I was meeting her from work. Chips were bought from Borza or Macari’s the odd time, but mostly they were made at home from giant potatoes and cooked in, what would now be considered, a very dangerous deep fat fryer. Halloween costumes were often a black plastic bag and a plastic mask, and McKeowns were always the first to have their tree up for Christmas. I feel blessed to hail from such a place
The Tallaght Flag 🙂
U is for Unknown an ode to Tallaght
If you have never been there, only heard about its faults Took the slagging on the telly with more than a pinch o’ salt If you’ve read the papers saying Tallaght’s just debris Then you’ve never stopped to look and see the beauty I can see
The hills that wrap around it, like the arms of God himself The river running through it, like a vein of purest health The playing fields and football fields of Davis’s and Anne’s The house where Newtown Rangers got its name, proudly still stands
The Sean Walsh Park, the Tymon Park, the Dodder Valley Park Though some might try to ruin them, they are part of Tallaght’s heart Shops and hotels, the Luas line, have made the place a hub But even Shamrock Rovers, could not beat the Hell Fire Club
The Dragon and Ahernes, The Old Mill, that once was Bridget Burkes Places for a pint, to wash away the strain of work The Priory in the Village, St. Maelruan’s up the Road It’s a place you can believe in, no matter what your Holy code
Can you only really love it, if it is where you are from? Can you see past all the negative, if it’s not where you were born? If you’ve never stood in Tallaght, thanking God that it’s your home Then to you maybe this little town will always be unknown
Today’s post is a kind of poem about my experience of depression. Not everyone’s experience is the same. So I’m just going to share a little of mine. I’m not a poet but I find writing the truth can be hard. It’ll be easier to do it in a more creative way.
Depression is a funny thing, It does not make me laugh It used to make me cry, it used to stab me in the heart until the pain would make me angry, hungry, sending me for food, to make me feel the way I felt when I was small, and safe, and good
But now it doesn’t do that. This time I’m more stressed out In case somebody asks me to do, or say, or shout and tell them, “everything is fine, I’ll take care of that.” Cos it’s what I do, I sort things out. Except for age-old fat that I am trying trying to disrobe from but I cannot concentrate on every single thing that’s asked of me.
No one asked me? Oh wait
It was me who piled the stuff on? It was me who got it wrong? expectations, responsibilities more words, more songs I thought I had to do it all and carry all theweight while trying to lose it without losing it while not losing the faith
Does it look like I am losing any sense of sense right now? Well that is it, you’ve now seen how it works, it makes me feel that now, I must explain and say I’m sorry, that I don’t know where, why, how
See how it steals my peace?
So, I’ll stop and ask you just to wait, and let me find a way back to thinking, breathing, eating, normally (is the word normal okay?) You see, depression is a funny thing It does not make me laugh but the joke’s on me and will be while I travel on this path to God knows where and God knows when but that is good enough for me cos though I live with my depression, my God, He lives in me
It’s great to have Liz Carter back today. If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, you really should. Liz’s honesty and openness is such a blessing. Here she is with the second part of her post on Light and Dark.
It’s good to be back 🙂 I finished yesterday, by saying, the more I dig into Scripture, the more I find the most starkly honest writings there poured out for all to see, overflowings of emotion and anger and sorrow spilling onto the pages – most of the prophetic writings are like this and the Psalms are full of songs of lament as much as songs of praise.
It seems to me that we are on dangerous ground if we insist that we must keep our own darkness hidden in the darkness, because that is not the biblical model.
Biblical writers craft their words with honesty and authenticity. They tell it how it is. They do not tell us that there will be no suffering in the Christian life, nor do they tell us that the Christian life will be blessed with health and wealth and no pain. In fact, if anything, they tell us the opposite. Paul tells us that he lived in hardship and persecution, suffering for Christ and with Christ – and his words are full of the profound mystery of the intersection of brokenness and the peace of God that passes all understanding. The Psalmists wrote of isolation and imprisonment, of sickness and danger. And in the centre of it all we have Jesus, a man of sorrows who knew the great depths of suffering like no other.
I always think it would be so hard to follow a faith where the deity remains outside of our understanding and experience. Christianity is unprecedented among faiths in that God became one of us and sunk into our pain and mess with us. The incarnation points to the beautiful and complex intricacies of the fingerprints of God amongst us; a God willing to lay aside all his majesty and fall into the dust, to suffer and die, to take all our pain and sin and mess upon his body. It is a mystery that cannot be contained in words, but a mystery bursting at the seams with hope and life, and one that speaks loud into our own agonies like nothing else.
And this, ultimately, is what lights our path ahead; the knowledge that God is not far away, but is with us by his Spirit and in his experience of broken humanity. On days I have nothing left I can only look back to God, as the Psalmists so often did in their wretched poems of sadness and yearning. I can still choose to ‘yet praise’ within the days of trouble.
This winter will be long and bleak, and bleaker still for some of us, for many reasons. But winter ends in a glorious awakening, and God reminds us of that in a love song:
‘See, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone.’ (Song of Songs 2:10)
One of my poems from my new book incorporates this theme, and so I would like to share a few words from this poem with you today, with the prayer that God will speak to the deep places in you and flood you with a hope wider, deeper, longer and higher than you could ever imagine:
Oh hasten the day when death flees away when the winter of mourning melts to joy in the morning, when bleak shadows are drenched in the glory of your dazzling light, when darkest places and worn-down wastes are crushed in the power of outrageous grace The winter is past; the rains are over and gone, find love that is deep and love that is long find immersive light and ageless depths find crazy love in inexorable breadth Oh hasten the day when night flees away.
Treasure in Dark Places is a collection of poetry and short stories which are re-imaginings of biblical accounts and encounters with Jesus that take the reader into the heart of the stories, where you yourself can experience and encounter the God who loves you, and where you will find resonance and comfort in your own struggle.
Continuing the theme of Light and Dark, I am delighted to welcome Liz Carter to the blog. She will be sharing today and tomorrow, and we’ll hear about her new book, Treasure in Dark Places: Stories and poems of hope in the hurting.
So, over to Liz…
With the clocks going back and the winter drawing in, many of us are living with a creeping sense of dread that coils around us like the fog on a chilly winter day. As the days grow colder and the nights darker, we often feel enveloped in gloom, and now more than ever, as we wonder when all this will come to an end. Winter seems to stretch ahead with no promise of hope, with no sparkles of joy to look towards and wait for with anticipation. Winter 2020 seems like a pit of nothingness, a black hole of rubbishness and sadness.
Perhaps, for some of you, it’s not just 2020 that feels that way to you. Perhaps you’ve lived through years where the nights are too dark and the air too frozen around you. Maybe you’ve been living with sickness, physically or mentally, or living with grief, or other burdens which have left you bruised and battered, unsure where to look for any signs of hope.
For me, this year has been tough, but my whole life has been lived in pain, to some degree, with a chronic lung condition from infancy. This year I went into shielding in March after receiving the letter that punched me in the gut with its words instilling more fear in me: I’d been identified, it told me, as someone with risk of severe illness if I caught Covid-19. I separated out from my family and lived in my room for almost five months, caged into a life without touch or the usual family interaction. It was tough. It sent me spiralling mentally, into restless, tearful nights and days that seemed to stretch too long at times.
But God kept sending me little reminders of his presence and his love. As I began to let go of some of my fear and pour out some of my restlessness into poetry and other forms of writing, God spoke peace into my heart, and even sparks of joy at times.
God reminded me that it is sometimes in the darkest places where we find unexpected treasure, where light is able to break through in even more splendour, puncturing the blackness and calling us on towards the hope we find in Jesus.
I wonder if you have ever felt that you should be happy at all times as a Christian. Perhaps you’ve even heard teaching encouraging you to claim prosperity and health in all areas of your life, that because God is a generous God he will give you these – you only need to ask. Perhaps you’ve felt unable to share honestly about tough times, because you have been led to feel that you are, in some way, failing God because of your struggle. You hear the great triumphant stories of healing and wholeness, of God coming through for people when they are suffering, of God’s great and miraculous provision. But when it doesn’t seem to happen like that in your life, you can be left sad and alone, hugging your suffering to yourself in the mistaken idea that you cannot share it with others, because it might put them off the idea of faith.
Yet the more I dig into Scripture, the more I find the most starkly honest writings there poured out for all to see, overflowings of emotion and anger and sorrow spilling onto the pages – most of the prophetic writings are like this and the Psalms are full of songs of lament as much as songs of praise. Tomorrow I will write more about that and share one of the poems from my book
Thank you Liz. It’s a blessing to read such refreshing honesty in difficult times.
I look forward to hearing more. In the mean time, Liz’s book Treasure in Dark Places: Stories and poems of hope in the hurting can be found here. Until tomorrow… A x
Today’s guest post is from my sister-in-law, another Ann-Marie, (though she spells it wrong 😀 😀 😀 )
The poem is short, but beautiful. And here it is…
At last I escape
from head wreck and heart ache
The bright blue skies balm to my soul
Gusty breezes toss up the crows like black confetti
The silver birches are shapely and clean
And there is the Oak, just quietly being,
witness to petty life
As always, I place my hand on its cracked bark
and soak in its power
It gathers up the wind and blows a blessing
through my hair
Round and round it goes.
The whirligig of life.
No stopping it, impossible to catch
There it goes, hatch, match, dispatch.
Babby becomes mammy and she becomes granny
And around we go again.
It’s a wonderful thing.
The next generation consoles the loss of the last
The sights and sounds of new life ease the pain of absence, a salve.
But I’m stuck with this half circle
It keeps moving one way but refuses to come back around.
I feel the benefits and blessings of the salve of others
They ease the sting.
But the absence for me is doubled-up pain
and never more than on this day.
Each year Mother’s Day comes around
It holds my half circle in front of me
I look at it and smile through tears
For in it I see my 27
Dedicated to the memory of my mother, and to my 27 nieces and nephews.
2 people have died
Too much sadness
2, or maybe 20 opinions as to why
Insults start to fly
Hijack the agenda, rant and rave, play the blame game
Is it just one more thing to tweet wildly about?
Just another stick to beat the right with?
Another slur to hurl at the left?
How many really care about to the two people who died?
I’m so tired of it all
And God; what do you want me to do now?
This stuff makes me want to quit the tiny area of the public arena that I inhablt
And leave them all to devour each other
Blessed are the peacemakers, but no one wants a peacemaker today