Days 2 and 3

Well, we left Stoke on Trent yesterday, and headed for the M5.

An hour later, we gave up, turned up the M42, and visited friends and family instead.

It was a delight to see Dave and Carol Landers, old friends of mine from days of TEC weekends, and also occasional hosts during the trips I took around England back in the 1990s, ah those innocent days!  They have long since moved round the corner from their old house in Dunchurch to a lovely new build which I first saw three years ago.

After that, we drove down the M40 to Jo’s sister’s mother-in-law’s house.  Doug and Christine visit Anna and Rob most (if not all) Saturdays, and this was my chance to meet another five members of Jo’s extended family!  Fed and watered, we headed down the A303, past a few lumps of rock on Salisbury Plain, and got to Haselbury Plucknett about 9pm – only 22 hours late.

Today we went to Birchfield Community Church.  Opened as a Brethren church in 1964, it is now a small non-denominational fellowship in the Birchfield estate of Yeovil, and a mate of mine from Spring Harvest, Phil Macauley, is a member and was speaking this morning on how the Holy Spirit enables us for mission.

The pastor’s challenge after Phil finished was to spend time in prayer, then go out and see if we could find whom we were being pointed to in prayer.  We’re not sure if we did, but we left one lady in a local shop knowing the church was there any time she needed prayer for something – even if not today.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

After lunch, we headed into Yeovil town centre, picked up the Ultimate Beano Summer Special No.3 (reprinted content with a summer sporting theme from old summer specials and weekly comics), and finally back to the house to crash and relax.

Tomorrow we will check out Crewkerne.  I don’t promise much excitement… yet.  Maybe if I take some photographs!

On the way to Somerset…

I think I would have to admit we should have left Belfast sooner, and that was my fault.  Also, we needed a toilet break at Lusk Services.

Ultimately, the reason we missed the HSS was roadworks outside Dun Laoghaire port holding us up for 15 minutes due to a traffic jam.

So here we are on the Stena Nordica, sailing from Dublin to Holyhead, pondering dinner, and not stopping with my friends Sharon and Ian in Rowley Regis on the way through, since it will be after 10pm by the time we reach the M5.  Even if the holiday traffic is gone, we’ll not be in Somerset until after midnight.

Still, when we changed sailing we didn’t do too badly.  We got the last two seats in Stena Plus, so the premium ticket wasn’t wasted!

I’m pleased to say that the delay wasn’t wasted.  We stopped at Debenham’s in Blackrock before heading over the East link toll bridge and we saw the Tall Ships alongside further up the Liffey.  On top of that, the East link bridge was only €1 instead of €1.75, for the win.

Think I’ll go and find some grub.  This will be a long night.

Just another manic Sunday…

Sundays in a house with an organist mean early starts.  Heading down to church ridiculously early for your father to settle in, practise before the service, and generally get sorted out, while you put up hymn boards, or in later life, read the family’s Sunday Post in the car.  The battle over who got Oor Wullie and the Broons first would probably continue today, if I still lived at home.

At the age of 39, my routine is subtly different – my father is now an occasional organist, assisting as required but not playing anywhere week in, week out.  I’ve taken on that mantle, playing piano twice a week every week for Strand Presbyterian Church.

Nor am I particularly like my father when it comes to preparing for each service.  Where he got down early and practised hard, I’ve got into lazy ways.  I turn up far later than I would like, and I end up having to settle in very quickly, especially for the morning service.

So I sit at the piano, I get my books out, turn up a suitable page, and I stop.

And I wait.

Whatever way I have rushed that morning, that moment is special, and as I begin to play a worship song, it stays special.  In that moment, as I stop moving for a brief instant, I escape from the busyness of the morning.

And I play.  Play with my fingers, but also with my heart.

Presently, the minister will come to the front, and I will stop as he makes the announcements and calls everyone to worship.

Later, I will chill out, visit family, spend time with Jo, and go back to church in the evening, but from the moment I start playing until I finish playing out after the benediction, I’m at the core of my Sunday.  Joining with 80 others as I play, and we sing with our voices and from our hearts in worship.  Trying to help others focus on God.  Amazement at God’s love.  The privilege of playing every week.  Being able to do more than just stand and sing.  The obligation to not only play but to worship.  Everything being not about me.  Working with others.  Pondering new songs.  Rehabilitating the odd old song.

And the best of it all?

When I play, it may not be perfect.  I have my share of wrong notes (or sometimes the right notes in the wrong order!)  Certain songs speed up.

But I come alive.  A musician is one of the things I am born to be, and with all my imperfections, that cannot change.  And I love it.

This blog is written for the One Topic/Forty Opinions project of Belfast Bloggers Unite.