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Newsletter October 2011

MardaWard 40 years ago  

40 years zipped by...who would have thought?

When we married in 1971 the women who introduced us said I wouldn’t recommend you two marry.  “Oh why not?”  “What about your children?  They will be mixed blood.”  Well it didn’t harm them.  They are beautiful and they have health and strong blood.  Funny how some attitudes have changed.

Ward wrote this wee poem for Marda.  We want to share it here as a tribute to marriage.

Her wings are forged with steel in sleeves
Cut with aspiring liquidity
Catching eyes, arresting breath

Her move is swift, undaunted and without feet.
Weaving her solo song and distant message
In meandering flight.

Being herself, beyond beauty
Lancing any thoughts of who she could become

Her heart holds out disturbing warmth
Loosing the carnage shells of love
Making her more than angel,
Rare for the Fall
Common in God’s wink and toss.

We have had a wonderful month of visits and blessings.  Pastor Bill & Beth Beatty visited after their extensive trip to Scotland.  The Sunday before they came, we providentially met Donna, a women who happens to live in Inishowen (Inis Eoghain in Irish; how can “eogh” be pronounced “sh”?) a part of County Donegal.  Donna’s mother lives across the street from our church and we live across the street from Donna’s mother’s church.  Mutual friends know Donna and for months we’ve pestered Donna’s mother to meet her.  Donna came by the house and we met and then she invited the four of us to stay overnight and said she would poke around for any Beattys of Donegal.  Our Beattys struck gold as she discovered Sean Beatty, a local historian and farmer in nearby Culdaff who edits the Donegal Historical Society journal and had precisely the type of information Bill sought.  We had a great day driving around Inishowen and visiting Malin Head, the northernmost spot in Ireland.  We got to know Donna, her story, and promised to pray and encourage by keeping in touch.

Then Jack Bookwalter returned, with friends from WESTDIV days.  Terry and Judy were splendid houseguests.  Judy stepped in for Ward’s insulin and eye drops, while Marda fulfilled the opportunity of a “residential” with the Shankill Women’s Centre.  Local unionist or loyalist women, together with nationalist or republican women from the south, meeting down in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains for 4 weekends of self development!  Marda, was willing to “earn her keep” by fully participating.  

L’Arche Belfast held a big party to celebrate their tenth anniversary.  Maria and the gang gathered 200 people, and The Loom was recognized as a L’Arche outreach into North Belfast.  On October 4th Marda presented her learning from the trip to China to some of the church women.  The more she talks about it the more interesting it becomes.  The Irish Team to China will convene on the 22nd to review, party, and make presentations.

Carolyne Gibson, one of our bridesmaids, joined us in Belfast to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  She helped with a tea for the church.  Having guests allows us to see our world from another perspective.  She met some of our friends and we toured around and talked.  The important things in life get discussed in tea rooms and walks along the beach. 

We got invited to go with the “hitchhikers” program of Queen’s University Belfast Festival.  Our choices: Dervish, traditional Irish music, FAR a dance production, Carmina Burana, and Hamlet.  The BBC filmed Marda and another participant Jake in front of Queens University. It aired on the evening news!  We met other community workers including the fellow who greeted us in the Newark airport in May and Neil who said “I met yous in the Clifton St Graveyard .”  We were there when nephew Nathan visited a long time ago.  I was amazed to learn I was among a group of ex-combatants, Christians now which included republican and loyalist combatants.  Weaving relationships.  Wow.

Lots of things happening:  WEA offering Hitchhiker tickets.  Rev Lamb bringing The Paperboy, Tony Macauley and including poets in his program.  Rev Lamb also invited us in a retreat to Rathlin Island with the Youth Hostel Association.  Ward has joined a local writers group.

Next year is the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic, the 50th Anniversary of the Belfast Festival, the centenary of the Ulster Covenant.  Lots of material to write about and a good time to visit.

The spiritual journey and it’s all spiritual.  Really!

Email: wardstothers@cten.org
Phone: (028) 90 291986  From U.S. 01144.2890.291986

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