08 April 2013

Holy, Wholly, Holi...

Bear with me on the obscure title, hopefully it will make sense shortly... 

The past few weeks have been extremely full in real life, which makes for figurative crickets on the blog end of things. As I was thinking about everything I had to update you on, I realized that two of them were pronounced \ˈhō-lē\... so I just went with it and stretched the other update to fit the theme.

Holy Week was March 24-30. Since many of the local kids were either off school or preparing for break, many extracurricular events were cancelled - leaving me more time for the Church side. We participated in a joint communion service with Cave Hill Methodist on Maundy Thursday, an intimate service at Fortwilliam and Macrory on Good Friday, and of course the typical Easter Sunday festivities.  My special guest for these events was my mom, who flew in on Thursday morning. It was great to see her after almost an entire year apart, and I was glad to give her the opportunity to experience such a full time at the church (although it meant she missed out on a few of my regularly scheduled activities like homework club and Boys' Brigade).

This one is clearly the stretcher in the theme, but nonetheless... as part of my mom's trip, we decided to take a road trip! The week after Holy Week (Easter Week) is fairly quiet at both my sites, so we hopped a flight to England and did the whistle stop tour, hitting highlights in England, Wales and Ireland. So while we did not hit the entire British Isles wholly (see what I did there? Also: sorry, Scotland!), we did make a noble attempt.

Our road trip - covered all this (plus Dublin) in 5 days!

We had a great time visiting new places - and my mom even managed to hold her own with driving a manual transmission on the opposite side of the road! She will be writing a special "guest blogger" post within the next week or so to give her perspective on our time together and my work in Belfast, so keep an eye out!

Dinner in Dublin
View more photos from our trip here.

My mom left on Saturday, and by Sunday I was deep enough into my "introvert recovery" that I considered skipping out on the Belfast Colour Festival that was taking place that afternoon. However, I decided that I would probably regret it if I didn't attend, and of course I couldn't let my £3 ticket go to waste, so I talked myself into putting on my ratty jeans and a white T-shirt and headed to the City Centre.

For those of you who have never heard of Holi, it is an Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring. (Please note that I am SO vastly simplifying this holiday!) It is typically celebrated in part by throwing colored powders at each other, which has been the inspiration for events like the Color Run. Since I love just about anything from India and I hate running, this was the only way I could hope to have mass quantities of colored powder thrown in my face. ;-)

Immediately after leaving the ring
While the event was definitely commercialized and I spent an hour crammed into a line with hundreds of strangers for just 10 minutes of color throwing, I was really glad I attended. Mostly, because it reminded me of my life back home. "Cross-cultural" here is mostly confined to Protestants and Catholics. I rarely have the opportunity to experience other religious traditions or dance like a fool to Jai Ho (which they played no fewer than 3 times while I was there). Plus, I love the concept of celebrating Spring. While it's still been unseasonably cold here, there's something to be said for shaking off the winter blahs and bursting forth in a blast of color!

So in that spirit, I charge you now to go forth and celebrate! Jesus is risen and the world is blooming!

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