It is nine months since we learned about Corona Virus and it’s potential to cause death, especially to the vulnerable and elderly.
The government put the country in lockdown. People were advised to stay at home and not have others in their home. Fear of getting the virus has gripped our nation.
Restrictions were lifted in July. I sighed with relief. I could now visit family and friends.
Now in October we are told to stay at home again because the numbers of infected people have increased. More fear. Some elderly people I have heard are too fearful to leave their homes.
I remember that there was a group of Jesus followers who were in lock down. They were in a room together for fear of the Jews who had just killed their follower Jesus on the cross. They had killed their leader. They thought it was only a matter of time before the Jews came looking for them.
John 20 v 19.
When the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in their midst. He said to them Peace be with you. Jesus breathed on them and said to them Receive the Holy Spirit.
Are you lonely and fearful? Are you finding it difficult to stay at home? I encourage you that you are a good candidate for Jesus to come to to give you peace and fill you with his Holy Spirit. Expect Him to come to you.
I took advantage of a cheap flight from Belfast to Milan in October to see my son and his family.
I was able to dodge Covid restrictions. Italy was not on any list when I travelled. And I got home in time before one needed to isolate for 14 days.
He lives on a hill with trees of every kind growing nearby; cherry, fig, apple, hazel nut, Rose of Sharon, chestnut and pine. Some bee keepers bring their bee hives every spring to my son’s garden. The bees thrive on the local flowers.
One of the beekeepers left in some honey for the family before I left. There were four different colours of honey. Each kind of honey was produced when different fruit was in season.
God promised the people of Israel that he would bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey. They would possess houses they didn’t build and eat the fruit of trees they didn’t plant. God led our son and his family to a promised land indeed. It was a delight to stay with them.
As I travelled on my way back to the airport I noticed that the rivers were clear and blue; no pollution. The rivers’ source is nearby. The Alps covered in snow supply the valley below with abundance of water.
Secure in my seat on the airplane flying home I looked out below. The snow topped mountains and the dark valleys were outlined by the rising sun. How blessed one is to have a bird’s eye view of the mountains that our God created. I returned home amazed and full of joy.
I live on the shores of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. It is a nature reserve for wildlife. Many species of birds migrate here.
The Brent geese come here from Northern Canada in September every year. They come in thousands. I heard their call in the distance on the sixth of September while I was out for a walk. I looked up and saw a chevron of Brent Geese making their way towards the Lough. The birds have flown thousands of miles from distance shores to get to these feeding grounds on Strangford Lough.
They look like ducks when they arrive. After feeding all winter on eelgrass they become fat. By May they look like geese as they waddle on the banks of a drinking stream . They have strengthened themselves for the return journey to have their young in Canada. I am filled with wonder as I consider the rhythm of their lives. They stay together feeding and flying. There is safety in numbers. They go for miles to find safe places to feed and return to Canada where there are no enemies, to rear their young.
Swallows arrive here in May. They return to nests they have occupied year after year in our barn. They spend the next months feeding their young, flying back and forth from the nest ten thousand times catching insects. Sometimes I have to frighten away starlings that sit on the top of the barn waiting to rob the swallow’s young from the nest below. After one batch of young are reared the adult birds start over again and rear another nest of young. They keep feeding young till September comes. They gather on the local electric wires with their young and fly off to Africa to spend the winter.
Terns arrive in April to a small island off Strangford. Hundreds of them nest and rear their young. Their familiar noisy screeching call welcomes the visitor to the Strangford ferry, which connects with Portaferry on the other side of the Lough. Even though the island is only a few yards from the shore the terns are safe. No one is allowed to go to the island to disturb the nesting birds.
The words of God tells me from Jeremiah to look for the ancient pathways to find rest for my soul and to learn from the birds of the air.
“This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’” Jeremiah 6:16 NLT “Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year. But not my people! They do not know the Lord’s laws.” Jeremiah 8:7 NLT
Jesus said to look a the birds. I am learning from the birds. These small creatures do gigantic feats; they travel thousands of miles from here to another continent on the wing. They arrive at he right time and leave at the right time. It is so important to them to be in a safe place and where there is provision to rear their young. I look at just a few of the species of birds in my area that follow ancient pathways for generations.
God our Father who is the Lord of all creation, who made the heavens and the earth has given us guidelines though His Word how to live. Through reading His Word for many years God has guided me in my life. If one is willing to seek first the Kingdom of God, to seek God, submit to God, you will find rest for your soul. I have looked for the ancient pathways to find rest for my soul.
God has been faithful to lead me to a town during the war in Northern Ireland where it was safe to rear my children. After the troubles He led our family to another town where there were schools and clubs suitable for my growing teenage family. He has led my husband and I to a quiet place beside still waters after all our children have flown the nest. We have found rest for our souls here.
The shores of Strangford Lough are dotted with ancient ruins of monasteries and Christian settlements. St Patrick is believed to have come by boat to this area and sailed up The River Quoile. It is said a local landowner gave him a barn to start his Christian work among the people of Ireland. The rivers and Lough would have been full of fish giving provision to the visitors. Perhaps we are living on the land where some of these ancient settlers lived.
It certainly is a spectacular area to live. The full harvest moon rose high in the sky soon after the sun set in the west, a few nights ago. A vista of pale orange, yellow, grey and blue outlined the hills and valleys of Co Down. Our soul is continuing to be healed.
I thoroughly recommend you dear reader to seek God with all your heart and you will find him. I sought the Lord and he answered me and has been faithful to guide me all these forty odd years. I have just finished a book about how God has helped me in my life. It will be published soon. Please contact me if you would like a copy.
I was listening to a programme on BBC 4 radio this week. It was reporting on events in Ecqador during the Covid 19.
One lady was interviewed. Her husband contacted the virus and died in a few days. She rang the authotrities in her country to come and take away her husband’s body. Only after five days was his decaying body removed. The lady contacted the disease as well but survived. She had two young sons.
Many families suffered like she did. Dead bodies were left lying on the streets for days. The hospitals and normal services were not prepared for the death of so many people.
It is easy to complain about past and present wrongs in our country. I am so thankful after listening to that programme. I am so grateful for the services we are blessed with here in Northern Ireland. These services were put in place by people who believed God in generations past and wanted to help their fellow man. First of all I thank God for the people in our country who believe in God. God has preserved us from sickness and healed many who contacted the disease. Our local minister was told to prepare for many deaths from Covid. There were not any deaths from Covid in our town.
I am thankful for the Health Service, the many men and women who worked in the hospitals. I am thankful for the politicians who had to make difficult decisions in the crisis. I am thankful for the people in our families, villages and towns who supported each other through their fears. I am thankful for the people who know their God and intercede for others.
Let us keep alert and keep praying. God my Heavenly Father delivered me from death from cancer ten years ago through the prayers of many. I believe Jesus heals today. I want to tell others that Jesus will heal our diseases and even prevent us from getting sick. This is good news. Let us pray for workers in the harvest to go to those countries that don’t know of God’s love and care through Jesus sacrifice for us on the cross. The Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin and sickness.
One of the chapters of my new book says, The Christian life is not a bed of roses. The early Christians were throw to lions and Jesus learned obedience to the Father through the things he suffered. He died a horrible death on the cross. On Facebook and What’s App people want to share all the fun times in their lives. I don’t read much about their suffering or other difficulties. When one who is depressed or in difficulty reads about the happy times others are having, he may think what is wrong with me? I don’t have the money or ability to do what they are doing. So his life becomes more unbearable and he goes deeper into the pit. I remember friends of mine who were widows with four to five children. When they went to Church, they felt rejected. They didn’t have a husband, their clothes weren’t as pretty as the good living Christians. No one talked to them as others who knew each other stood in groups talking. Not surprising they didn’t go back to church. When I was getting my six or ten children ready for Church there was fighting or bickering. When we got to Church we had to pretend all was okay and smile. Underneath all the facade I was hurting and felt no one understood me. I thought what is wrong with me. I must be a terrible sinner. Everyone else is happy. It seemed to me if your life was not all fun you were a bad Christian . One feels condemned and not good enough to come to God or to Church. I cannot live up to others expectations of me. I didn’t know that God loved me and was with me in my battles and was helping me through them. One day a speaker talked about marriage. He said according to the scriptures those who are married will have more trouble than those who are single. This resonated with me. So friends on Facebook or What’s App don’t be surprised that I don’t respond always to the happy clappy times. If you share your difficulties I will respond. Please get to know what is going on in other peoples lives, especially family, the good and the bad. Then one can empathise or even pray with others.
The Loughshore Rd in Portaferry, Co Down is very popular with local walkers, and more so during the Covid restrictions. There is less vehicle traffic. A family of Black Guillemots have become quit celebrities to local visitors. They have brought joy to many people during this difficult time when people have had to self isolate. Getting out in nature among God’s creation brings healing to the soul and mind.
The Black Guillemot is a small black sea bird with a white patch on each wing. Each has a pointed beak, smooth feathers and red feet. They feed on sea creatures and can dive very deep underwater to feed. It’s a privilege to get to see such wild life nearby.
Black Guillemots have a nest amid the rocks in the wall along the shoreline of Strangford Lough. They have become quite tame. Passersby stop to watch them as their family play in the water below. My daughter was driving past last evening. Two birds were sitting on the wall. I asked her to reverse the car to see if we could see them up close.
Amazingly the two birds were not disturbed as we stopped. They didn’t fly off. We were able to take photos of them close up. What a delight.
The waves from storms in February breached the shoreline wall in various places. Some were repaired before the lockdown. The road had to be closed to traffic about a mile along the shore from where we live. The wall was broken and part of the road fell into the sea. The Covid lockdown prevented workers getting to fix it.
Then in July when work was due to start to repair the road, it was discovered that another group of Black guillemots had built nests nearby. They were still feeding their young in the nests. The department of the Environment stepped in and advised work to stop. The repair didn’t go ahead. The workers are waiting till the Black Guillemots are finished reading their young.
I make boats from drift wood I find on the shore near where I live. I have wood I intend to use that is the remains of a rowing boat that was abandoned by its owner. The winter storms buffeted and broke apart the once loved vessel. I enjoy making something new and beautiful, a sailing boat ornament, from that which is discarded or broken. The reclaimed wood is now loved by its new owner as it sits on display in his home.
Today I travelled across Strangford Lough by ferry to see and pray for a friend. While I was waiting at the harbour a beautiful, slim lined yacht passed gracefully through the water. It had two masts that reached skywards. It towered over other yachts parked nearby. The ferry seemed small in comparison to this vehicle. It is a visitor to these parts.
I soon forgot about the beautiful vessel when the ferryman said my ferry card, to pay for the journey, was out of credit. I resisted the temptation to be annoyed. I paid the full price for the journey.
On my return home I wanted to call into a shop to top up my card which gives subsidised journeys on the ferry. I knew I risked not getting on the ferry because of restrictions to the number of vehicles due to Covid. I collected my card and drove to the terminal. The boat was full and the ferryman signalled to me, no more vehicles. I stopped, resigned to wait an half an hour till the ferry returned.
I said a quick prayer, “Please Lord let the ferryman change his mind.” Just as I said that he asked drivers on deck to move forward to make room for another vehicle. He beckoned me forward.
I was super excited at the quick answer to prayer. I was full of joy and thanked the men for their help in making room for me. The ferry launched forward. I saw the sky move and wondered what was happening. Then there was a crash. My car had moved backwards and broke the long pole that is lifted and closed when cars get on and off the ferry. I was disoriented and in shock. In my excitement at getting on the ferry, I forgot to put the handbrake on. No one else saw what happened.
I waited trembling on my journey across the Lough. “What will the staff think when they see the pole crash landed at the back of the boat! I have damaged the ferry boat. That woman I made room for, look what she has done!” Perhaps I should have stayed at home and not bothered going out to help a friend. I remembered a promise from Psalm 121, ” I will watch over your going in and out”. I said another quick prayer, “Help” to God. I waited as other cars started up their engines, preparing to disembark when we got to the other side.
Then one staff member discovered the damage. He called to another. Three or four men gathered to look at the fallen barrier. I waited in trepidation. There was no scolding. No rebuke. In fact they laughed at what had happened. Thankfully they waved me forward and off the boat. They will take care of it. No calling the police to the scene of an accident. Thank God for the ferrymen who helped me today.
I got home. The yacht I saw earlier was parked offshore. It is beautiful. I stopped for a minute to reflect on my adventure. I told Brendan about what happened. He raised his eyes. He asked if my car was damaged? I forgot to look. Later he discovered a dent, the size of my hand just above the back lights. Thankfully the lights weren’t smashed. This new damage is just an addition to the war wounds my car has got since Brendan bought is for me six weeks ago. I have a story to tell about each one. We laughed together.
No room to wade on the shoreline The water is lapping against the wall I’m safe here on the ledge My favourite spot Jutting out of the water I’ll wait And keep warm With my neck Sunk between my shoulder blades I’ll wait Till the water recedes I’ll wait To dart at some tiny fish Lingering in the shallows I know their hiding places I’m too old To fly from my perch To find another spot I’ll leave Those fishing grounds To the younger ones. I’ll wait
The tide is high No room to wade on the shoreline The water is lapping against the wall I’m safe here on the ledge My favourite spot Jutting out of the water I’ll wait And keep warm With my neck Sunk between my shoulder blades I’ll wait Till the water recedes I’ll wait To dart at some tiny fish Lingering in the shallows I know their hiding places I’m too old To fly from my perch To find another spot I’ll leave Those fishing grounds To the younger ones. I’ll wait