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Along the Track: "Affirming Difference"

10th August 2021

In her book, Late Migrations Margaret Renkl recounts that in 2007, the fossil remains of a severely disabled prehistoric man was uncovered in what is now Vietnam.

The skeleton revealed the fused vertebrae and weak bones characteristic of a congenital disease called Klippel-Feil Syndrome. The man was a quadriplegic, unable to feed himself or keep himself clean, and yet he survived to adulthood – during the Stone Age, mind you – because others in his community took care of him.

Incredible, isn’t it! What a beautiful story.

Along the Track: "I am Afraid"

27th July 2021

In Irish sign language for the deaf (perhaps in others too), the sign for fear is holding five or even ten fingers against your chest, close to your heart in a kind of rapid touching motion. The sign for courage includes that same fluttering of hands and then moving your hand into a fist. So, in sign language, courage literally emerges from fear. The root of the word courage in our language is cor – from the Latin word for heart. Paradoxically it seems, fear and courage have the same source!

Along the Track: "Why am I so Angry?"

15th June 2021

Along the Track is in its eighteenth year, believe it or not! Over those years I have received a variety of emails in response to particular editions but I always know I will receive many, many emails if I write about either forgiveness or anger, especially the latter. It seems to bring out very deeply held and strongly felt emotions. Whatever I write or suggest is always wrong! So why not avoid it? I could say that anger is all the rage, but I won’t. But there is a lot of anger around.

Along the Track: "Babel"

18th May 2021

Ancient stories, often very familiar to us, can teach us very up to date and relevant lessons. The story of the building of the tower Babel in Genesis starts this way: "Now the whole world spoke the same language, using the same words." The people propose to build a mighty tower right up into the sky, a building that would make them famous and fill future generations with wonder and amazement.  They begin with great enthusiasm but after they have been building for a while, there is an intervention from on high. The people wake up one morning to discover they can't understand each other's words any more. God has given them a very mixed blessing - the gift of many languages. The tower project has to be called off because people can't work together. But even so, the unfinished tower is remembered by the name they gave it, Babel.

Along the Track: "Towel People"

20 April 2021

“Some years ago, I was visiting a school early in the year. I noticed a small boy in tears by himself in the playground at recess time. This lonely little person was talking into a stick, pretending it was a mobile phone. A teacher appeared from nowhere, took him by the hand and helped him to join others his age who were playing together. When I passed by ten minutes or so later, he was playing very happily. That small, almost instinctive action made an enormous difference to that little boy. …”


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