Friday, February 27, 2009


This is the most inspiring thing I have scene in a while:

At first, I just glanced at a few and thought they were magnificent. But inside me, something kept making me feel guilty. "You're just looking at pictures. You're not doing anything. " I am reminded of an article in the Washington Post about how few of us make time through out our day for beauty. I had to make myself sit down and watch this slide. A sense of wholeness came over me, pushing the busy thoughts aside. Until there was too much and I couldn't take it in anymore and will save it for tomorrow. Oh, but I feel better.

Challenge: sit and watch the slide show for 15 minutes. Don't do anything else.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ash Wednesday

To be honest, the days leading up to lent are usually stressful as I'm never quite certain what to give up. Tuesday night, I made pancakes (with much help) and had friends over to share them! Quite lovely. Wednesday, I decided to go to an Ashe Wednesday service at the Catholic Student Union. As I walked to the service, the Lord laid it on my heart to fast one day a week for lent.

Entering, I was a bit nervous as I had never been to a Catholic service before. However, the ceremony itself reminded me much of the Anglican church in Chapel Hill. I was a bit apprehensive about the Scripture readings and message from the priest (I think I get very apprehensive when it comes to church!), but I was pleasantly suprised. We read from Job and Isaiah, lovely passages that talked about returning to the Lord. The priest spoke about pride and how it gets in the way of seeing God, which coincided too well with what the Lord had just impressed upon my heart about fasting.

I entered in line to received ashes on my forehead, and as the priest mashed his thumb into the dish, and rubbed my forehead, he said in a deliberate Irish (not Northern Irish) accent: "Remember you are but dust, and to dust you shall return." A strange excitement took me over and I couldn't help but smile as I turned away, a strange excitement that has happened before in Ashe Wednesday services. Something so beautiful about communion and ashes and dust and breathe and entering into a season of purgation in order to focus rightly on my God.

Last year, Corban dragged me to an Ashe Wednesday service on the eve of the Duke v. UNC basketball game. A small ebenezer. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

An Unexpected Welcome

I am now nearly mended. On Thursday, I received a text asking me if I wanted to stay in the Macleod's home until I was better. Oh yes, yes YES! Staying here has done so much good for my poor heart. I am energized again, feel more like myself again. I have been loved on, been around a family, played TMNT with the boys, ate and slept, ate and slept, watched the West Wing, ate and slept, ate and slept, received help on tackling some essays, ate and slept some more. The Lord has used his church to encourage my heart and give me joy. Hmm, he is so good to me!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It happened

Finally, it happened. My disallusionment with British culture arrived today at 6.43 pm. I have had the hardest time getting to know British persons. They are friendly upon meeting someone, but the follow up instances of a deeper friendship seems elusive, unless, unless, the key here, is several pints! The South is the same way, reserved and guarded. At least I understand how they work, and I can steal past those sleeping dragons to something meaningful. I don't understand the mind of a British person at all; it completely baffles me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Doctor Moore

Today, I saw a grown girl sucking her thumb. This is the second person I've seen do this since I've been here. The first time, I thought it was rather odd, but the second, now makes me reconsider the effects of sanity of island life.

I went to the doctor today and after a relatively hassle-free and inexpensive trip, I'm beginning to consider the benefits of social health care and wonder how it would suit America. I literally walked in, filled out ONE sheet of paper, waited 30 minutes, called to a doctor who was thorough and professional, gave me drugs immediately, printed out my prescription. I walked out (not paying for anything!,) went down 2 flights of stairs to the pharmacy who had my prescription ready with in 5 minutes and for which I paid 15 pounds for three separate items (which would have easily cost me a good $50 USD). Everything in less than an hour. I was quite impressed.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hill Walking

A crew from Holy Rood Abbey went to trek the Pentland Hills today. First, we walked through snow-sludge, then the grown began to freeze and we walked on ice, and frozen dirt and mud, which gave way to snow. It was easiest to walk on the heather and moss. We followed a rock wall, round the hills, up through snow and heather. Occasionally we saw sheep on the crests of hills. As the path steepened, we began to walk through snow, and round the side of the hill, the pass grew very icy and narrow. This led us straight down to the foot of the hill where we turned and walked back through fields of farms.

Anna brought her dog coolen again and we h
ad a great time playing fetch. Its funny because my moment of epiphany last Saturday in the library looked out upon just these hills.

A year ago today, I was in the car with mom and Ms. Eunie, driving back home from school where I was too sick to function on my own. So much has happened in just one year. My recurrent thought is the goodness of the Lord. I
don't have to be here. He brought me here because he wanted to. Walking through these hills, I saw this: though creation still bears its curse, in it the Lord still reflects his beauty. I know that I am loved, dimly I see it, like these hills on the horizon.

The narrow pass. The hills covered by cloud.

Coolen testing the ice.

This wall proved rather unsteady for it was not cemented together and was covered in lichen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Prayer Breakfast

February 11, 2009

Today UNC plays Duke at Duke. I will wear my tarheel blue today.

Wednesdays at 7.30 there is a prayer breakfast. One person plays on a guitar. All sing quite heartily. One student leads prayer topic. We gather into groups and pray out loud together with words we speak to each other and to God. Before coming here, I thought praying out loud was rather pretentious. Now I find it utterly good. While we pray, one small group prepares breakfast. Its so nice to sing together, to pray together, and then to break fast together with such good food!

Today I had bacon between toasted bread with butter, and the Brits put ketchup on it. Then I had porridge, which is like oatmeal, with honey and bananas, and then a cup of tea.

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." Acts. 2.42

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ladies Close

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are gazing at the stars.
-O. Wilde

Saturday, February 7, 2009

James Joyce and Rugby

Yesterday, I pinned up pictures of people I love. My great cloud of witnesses gazes at me from my walls and inspire me.

I've been reading James Joyce and today as I was reading and looking out on first the tree tops, then the city, then the snow capped Munros, listening to the Avett Broths and Denison Whitmer, and then reading harrowing lyical prose, all appealing to my senes at once, overwhelmed my cold heart, and I couldn't help cry in the library. For missing home. For finally being here, that's like a consummation of a marraige.

After such a cathartic experience, I left the library to go to the pub to watch Rugby matches. Game 1: England vs. Italy. Game 2: Ireland vs. France. At first I wanted England to win. Then the match ended and Ireland began to come up. The stadium they happened to be using was the site of a massacre in the early 1900s by the English on the Irish, and for a while no British games have been allowed to play there. However, for this tournament of 6 Nations, the Irish Rugby team has been allowed to use it.

In my James Joyce class I've been learning about this time in Irish history. About identity, nationalism, fighting against the English and against each other. So much fighting and contention. I begin to understand what I didn't before hand. That history stays in this land and people remember it. All the Scottsmen in the bar did not want England to win, but pulled for Italy. In the second match, they all sang along for Ireland's national anthem. And not softly, but loudly and proudly.

Its funny how these tensions still play out. Its funnier still how I'm not quite a part of it, a third party looking on and noting this. I find myself pulling against England, but I'm not Scottish or Irish or English. I'm American. I'm Southern. I'm a Carolina girl, deep down. So on my way home, I found myself singing "The Weight of Lies" by the Avett Brothers along cobbled streets in Medieval Edinburgh.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Durham, England

Ah, just writing the title of "Durham, England," rather than Durham, NC I find quite difficult.

I went to Durham on my first Saturday to visit a Castle now inhabited by Durham University. Students eat at the old high table the Bishop princes use to eat at, practice on the organ in a chapel centuries old, and sleep in old prisoners quarters! The Castle began in 1072 directly after William I conquest in 1066.

Across the green from the Castle, stands the Cathedral where, much to my great surprise the venerable Bede lies along with St. Oswald. Bede wrote accounts of history in Old English, including a long passage on St. Oswald I had to translate last year for my Old English Grammar Seminar. I had no idea either happened to rest there, which just show the Lord knew and delighted the desires of my heart just because he wanted to.

Today, I went into New College (founded in 18th c.) to the Divinity Library to study. When I sat down, I noticed a book by Duke University Press, and opened it to find the printing information in Durham, NC. I know, I know, I'm supposed to bleed Carolina blue (I do!) and constantly shout "Go to hell Duke!" but at that moment, I was so happy to meet an enemy, a rival in a foreign land for despite the tender relationship, I knew this place, I knew this school, and coming across something I know, I have known, and will know again soon, brought me much joy for here all is still so unfamiliar and wild.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Signs That I'm Coping

Signs That I'm Coping (as the Scots would say):

1. A drunk lady came up to a group of us and asked if there were an Scottish people amongst us, and there were for I was the only non-Scot. However, the lady wanted to know where the "Royal Oak" pub was and none of them knew, but as it happened to be just outside my close, I was able to direct her. Hah.
2. I love haggis. It has a lot of pepper in it, and looks a lot like ground beef, and doesn't taste much different. Its so nice. Parsnips mashed are a bright orange color, and tatties are the same as mashed potatoes.
3. I love the weather. It is incredible volatile. One morning, I sat at my desk working, and from 8-11 the weather changed from cloudy, to snowy, to sleeting, to rain, to bright blue, to clouds, to snow again. I love how the wind whips around my face, and most of the time I go out without a hat or gloves just to feel the wind. This is so surprising considering at home, I disliked the winter immensely
4. I love the sound of Scots. I get v. upset when someone goes from speaking in a more Scottish voice to a lesser one. I get so excited whenever I run across an Old English word still in common day use.
5. I went in with a friend to buy a guitar yesterday, and one of the first things I taught myself to play were Scottish folk songs: Wild Mountain Thyme and Loch Lomond. I think before anyone comes to Scotland, one ought to listen to folk songs to understand the culture.
6. I love Holy Rood Abbey. I love the Christians here. People are so friendly and generous and so happy to be there, which has often been the opposite of my experience. I also find people mean what they say, instead of being nicely polite.
7. I find I am entirely happy.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Yesterday, I went to a traditional Burns Supper with an address to a haggis in addition to neeps and tatties (parsnips and potatos), all very nice. Anna's dog is a collie mix and as I sat petting Collen, I thought of my old Amelia and I missed her very much. It reminded me of Chaucer's The Book of the Duchess, where the knight finally snaps out of his dream world and tells the author plainly, "She is but dead." Removing layers, until reaching the nature. I found myself more aware of Collen, better able to love on him, and enjoy his company more for it. I guess it works the same way with human relationships: losing someone helps a body to love better.