28 November 2015

A walk on Skerries beach and around
the harbour in the dark before Advent

Evening lights at Skerries Harbour this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015; click on image for larger photograph)

Patrick Comerford

There have been strong winds and heavy rains across the east coast since last night, and winter darkness seemed to take a grip on the day from late morning on.

But winter holds its own promise too, Advent begins tomorrow [29 November 2015] and Christmas Day is less than four weeks away.

I am preaching in Christ Church Cathedral at the Sung Eucharist at 11 a.m. tomorrow morning, and taking part in the Advent Procession at 5 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

This afternoon, as dark descended, despite the cold and wet weather, I decided to go for a walk on the beach in Skerries and a walk around the harbour.

But first I went to the Olive, which still offers the best double espresso in Fingal. As I posted a photograph of my coffee on Facebook, it was a delight to get an immediate reply from a friend in Skerries: “Welcome home!”

Before going down to beach, I stopped in Gerry’s for the Skerries News, edited by David Diebold, The Economist and the New Statesman, good reading later for a cold winter evening on my own.

It was so dark on the beach it was difficult to see the sand beneath me or to see out to the shoreline and the waves, even though I could hear them in the distance.

Eventually, I got to the harbour, where I walked the length of the pier. The fishing boats were tied to each other and up against the pier wall, and in the mellow lights of the evening it was almost possible to imagine that they were suspended in the air above the harbour basin in the mellow lights of the evening.

‘Cast away the works of darkness’ … fishing boats in the harbour in Skerries this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The Advent Collect, which we pray tomorrow morning, asks God to give us the grace “to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light” so that “we may rise to the life immortal.”

And as we light the first of the Advent candles on the Advent Wreath, we recall how the patriarchs were called “to live by the light of faith and to journey in the hope of your promised fulfilment. May we be obedient to your call and be ready and watchful to receive your Christ a lamp to our feet and a light to our path; for you are our light and our salvation.”

The theme of light continues at the Peace with the words of introduction: “In the tender mercy of our God, the dayspring from on high shall break upon us, to give light to those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Later, the words of the blessing are: “Christ the sun of righteousness shine upon you, scatter the darkness from your path, and make you ready to meet him when he comes in glory; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always. Amen.”

Christmas lights are already decorating the trees on Strand Street in Skerries. As I headed home in the dark of the winter evening, I was looking forward to Advent Sunday, the Season of Advent and our preparation for the season of Christmas.

Christmas lights on the trees lining Strand Street, Skerries, this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

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