26 December 2010

I’m not dreaming of a White Christmas, ever again

Snow at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

Patrick Comerford

I’m not dreaming of a White Christmas – no, not ever, never.

South Dublin has been covered in snow for most of December, and I have never, ever, lived in a place so cold, so shiverringly cold.

When people bemoan about how inappropriate it must be to sing winter carols in places such as Australia, South Africa and Argentina, they can forget it. I’m not listening.

I don’t mean to be the Christmas Grinch this year. But this is the coldest winter in my memory. No-one can imagine how much I am now looking forward to some Mediterranean sunshine in 2011.

Temperatures rose to 5C at some points today – that’s a rise of 15 to 17 degrees or more above the coldest parts of the last few weeks.

Yes, the thaw is showing its first signs today. But even daytime has been a nightmare over the last few weeks, hoping not to slip, slide, fall, or break a limb; digging out a parking space in front of the house, only to find someone else slides into it; trying to book a taxi only to be told no taxis are available – despite the constant complaint by taxi drivers that there are too many taxis on the streets of Dublin these days.

But I had deep sympathy for the taxi driver who brought me home from Christ Church Cathedral after the Midnight Eucharist on Christmas Eve: as we inched slowly up along Firhouse Road, his window was banged repeatedly by young louts who shouted out racist comments, so much for peace on earth, goodwill to all ...

That Midnight Eucharist on Christmas Eve was the last one for Archbishop John Neill as Archbishop of Dublin. How sorely he is going to be missed when he retires at the end of next month.

On Christmas Day, returning home from Christmas dinner in my sister-in-law’s house in Clontarf was another precarious adventure, and one I would like not to repeat.

Snow in Glenvara Park, Knocklyon, this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

It was obvious as I headed out of Glenvara Park this morning [26 September] that the thaw had started, even though the whole area was still covered in a white blanket of snow.

Compared with the large congregations in the weeks before Christmas, we were a faithful few this morning, less than two dozen. The congregation fitted comfortable into the chapter and choir stalls, and in his sermon former Precentor and Principal of the Church of Ireland Theological College, the Revd Dr Adrian Empey, recalled Saint Stephen and how important it is to remember the martyrs at Christmas-tide.

Of course, the incarnation is God’s witness to us in Christ; the martyrs are our witness to God in Christ. Christmas is about God coming among us; the martyrs remind us of our need to be with God.

Swans on the Grand Canal at Harold’s Cross early this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

On the way home, a large collection of swans had gathered on the Grand Canal underneath and beside the bridge at Harold’s Cross. Seven swans-a-swimming? There must have been seventy swans-a-swimming at lunchtime today. Some were even standing on the canal’s frozen water, all were only too eager to be fed bread by thoughtful passers-by.

I’ve been frozen this winter in Dublin. But I’ve been fed spiritually this Christmas. And I’m looking forward to the New Year – but with a little less cold and snow, please.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Hi Patrick - glad you had a Happy Christmas and hope you enjoy the thaw.We had no snow to speak of down West Waterford way but have been waterless for a week now, annoying and a hassle. The River Blackwater froze for long stretches, I have a nice photo of it (near Cappoquin) and the Canal at Lismore on my latest post.
Happy New Year!