Do you see what I see?

This fabulous image is of one of my favourite places to be.

Sally Gap 2 JI

The photo was taken by John Ivory and he has kindly given me permission to use it.

It is the road to Sally Gap in the Wicklow mountains. I can’t count the times I’ve driven up that road. I used to take it as part of the scenic route to the Bible College in Greystones, on my own in the early morning. I also used to drive up there with friends having the laughs, listening to loud music. I’ve taken it with American visitors, showing off my beautiful country. Also used to drive up there often with himself to relax, chat and pray in quiet.

I’ve taken loads of photographs of it too. But I’ve never been able to capture the view the way John has. When I saw the photo my first thought was… ‘THAT is what it looks like!’

I have a theory about photographs… which may land me in some hot water, but hear me out.

I think the reason we love our own photos is not because they reflect what we saw, it’s because when we look at them, we see our memory of the actual scene. Not the captured image, which is usually substandard. We remember how spectacular it was and the photo helps us to do that, but the photo itself doesn’t reflect the spectacularness (and yes, I am making up words to prove my point), to someone who wasn’t there. I reckon the reason we don’t love everyone else’s photos (and they don’t love ours…) is because we don’t see what they saw. We see a vague resemblance to what they saw. And that’s all they see in our pics.

Photographers have a way of capturing a true reflection of an image, which I think John has done brilliantly here with some of these other photographs of the same area. (Also used with his permission.)

JI collage

I was talking to Rich the other day about Heaven. What it might be like and what eternity will feel like etc. I said that no matter how hard I try, or what books I read or even what Bible verse I read, I cannot get my head around what Heaven will be like. It’s like I’m actually incapable of conjuring a good image in my head or a realistic concept of it.
I remembered the verse in 1st Corinthians that says,
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

So it actually makes sense that I can’t conjour up the image.
Even if I did, it would be a poor reflection. But as the Apostle Paul says later on in 1st Corinthians,
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully…”

oh and If my photograph theory is right, then even John’s photo of those mountains is only a reflection (albeit a fabulous one) – you’ll have to take yourself up there to experience it first hand 🙂

Come Back Soon!

For some reason it’s a week of memories for me.

I told this story in one of my articles for VOX Magazine*. Maybe it has come back to mind because it happened around this time last year, or maybe it’s because my friend has just lost his mum.

Probably a bit of both…

Come Back Soon!
I had to say goodbye to my husband for a month recently. We haven’t spent much time apart so the prospect of 4 whole weeks wasn’t fun!

In the days leading up to the goodbye I managed to hold it together but when we got to the barrier in the airport that only I could pass, I was not able to hold back the tears. We said our goodbyes and as soon as he was out of sight I let go and sobbed like a child.

By the time it was my turn to send my bag through the scanner and walk through the security doorway thingy, I was a total mess. When I walked through, a female security guard stopped me and asked if I was ok. Through the various liquids associated with sobbing, I managed to say that I was ok. “Are you sure?” she said, “Will I get you a chair so you can sit down for a minute?”
“No” I said, “I’m ok really. It’s just that….. I’ve just left my husband and…..” that was as far as I got. I burst into another bout of ‘extreme crying’ (a much underrated sport in my opinion)!

She stared and me and said, “You’ve just left your husband???? Oh my goodness! Let me get you a glass of water or something!”

By now there was a queue behind me, a crowd around me and a conveyor belt of hand luggage going nowhere. I tried hard to explain that I hadn’t actually LEFT my husband, I had just left him behind and REALLY was ok. The other security guards had heard enough and resumed looking sternly at people.

Suitably mortified, I gathered my belongings and scuttled away praying that none of the people who had witnessed the incident were on my flight.

By the time you read this we’ll have been reunited but as I write I’m still missing him. I know that soon he’ll be back but at the moment I’m longing for the day when we’ll be reunited.

I love hugs 🙂

But I’m not the only one longing for a reunion am I? Saying goodbye to people is a sad inevitability of all our lives. Whether it’s goodbye at an airport or goodbye at a graveside – parting is hard. But a day is coming when there will be no more goodbyes, no more partings, no more tears. That is a promise from God – our happy inevitability. And as I wait to be reunited with my beloved, I’m also waiting to be united forever with my Beloved.

I can’t wait! For both reunions 🙂

This article was in VOX Magazine October 2011 as part of my regular column ‘Confessions of a Feint Saint’
This year, for the first time they are producing a Christmas edition. Click here to go to their website.

Space to think about what comes after…

I loved reading the tributes to Neil Armstrong that rolled around Twitter, Facebook, blogs and websites. Although, some of the American press almost over looked his death. Well he died on a Saturday you see… and towards the end of the summer when some newsrooms are scantily staffed. (huh?)

NBC are being particularly mocked online for reporting that ‘Astronaut Neil Young’ had died! (huh?) You don’t need me to provide you with link! Just google it and choose your own!

As much as it feels wrong that the story wasn’t covered very well, maybe it’s fitting that he had a quiet exit. For a man at the centre of world changing events, Neil Armstrong seemed to live a very normal life after walking on the moon. There isn’t a raft of TV interviews that we can search youtube for. There are a lot of books about him but it’s said he only wrote one himself. By all accounts, he was a quiet unassuming man who went back to his home state to teach Aerospace Engineering. Never really got involved in politics and as far as my research can tell me – he never did an advertisement for anything!

But the most interesting thing to me was the well wishers who bade him farewell as he left our atmosphere and went back to the stratosphere that not only defined him, but which he defined.  It was actually very emotional to read some of the Tweets. Retweeted again and again, coming from all over the world. Wishing him well on his way…

Death is a (not so) funny thing though isn’t it?! It is one of the few things, maybe the only thing that we can guarantee EVERY SINGLE PERSON will experience – yet we’re almost always surprised to find someone has died. The reaction to death and opinion of its outcome varies across the world, across religions & philosophies and across time. But more often than not – we’re not prepared for it.

I’m not usually a blogger of dismal subjects. But you must remember that for me – though I do cry when someone dies, it is not a ‘dismal’ subject for me. There is an eternity to be enjoyed which, when this rubbish body of mine eventually gives up on me, I look forward to.
My father-in-law had an amazing attitude to death. When he was ill he believed that if he got well again – GREAT, but if he didn’t – he’d get to be with Jesus so… GREAT. For him it was a win – win situation. Basically saying what the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

I’d be lying if I said that I totally have my head around that one. But I am confident that  beyond space, beyond the moon and beyond the space beyond the moon… there is an eternity and a heavenly home for me! My departure from the earth will make no headlines (unless I die in some freak spandex accident or am eaten by a mongoose…) Maybe one or two of my Tweeps might say something nice about me. And sure there might even be a nice little obituary to me in the local paper. Something like… “She ate a lot of chocolate but it was people like her who kept Cadbury’s open and contributed to the recovery of Ireland’s economy and the return of the ‘boom’!” As you can see I’m not expecting to go for a while yet! 🙂

But… whether my exit makes a splash or not, my entrance into the next world with be a party. A big party! And you’re invited by the way!

Think about it!