Archive for the rain Category

A little of the past three weeks…

Posted in christianity, community, Foy Vance, friends, Queens, rain with tags , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2009 by Phil Alcorn

Three weeks ago, my friend was found dead in his living room. He was found by other friends of mine.

It was Valentines day. I had been out in Carrickfergus helping at an International Students event when I got the message. Standing outside the gates of Carrickfergus castle, I got the message that would change a part of me forever. At 14:22:09 on Saturday 14th February 2009, the message came in.

“Phil. Cliff is Dead.”

I called right back, not wanting to believe it. The chill had already taken a hold of me, and part of me knew it was true. The friend who sent me that message does not joke about such awful things.

The next hour or two were a blur. I wanted, of how I wanted to leave… but I had come on a bus full of International students… there was no way to get back to Belfast until the trip was over. I walked around the castle on the tour, half in a daze. The weather reflected my feelings – grey and cold… a fewspittles of rain coming down, almost as if the clouds weren’t sure what it was they were trying to do.

I remember phoning my Dad… it was my Nana’s birthday, I was meant to be going home for a birthday dinner. I didn’t go home… I went to my friends house once I got back to Belfast. She had been there, she had been one of the ones to find him. I went to see how she was… other friends came round. It was an alien day…

Cliff was my friend. Our birthdays were on the same day… only two days after the day he was found. He was only two days off his 55th birthday.

Cliff taught me so many lessons about life. Lessons about how to love, how to care… how to look out for others, how to laugh in spite of a situation… he shared my musical tastes, he taught me about humility and gentleness, he showed me that everyone has a story, and that everyone, EVERYONE, has worth. Cliff changed me. God used Cliff to change and guide me.

A good friend asked me a few days after that day how everything that had happened fit into my perception of hope. He said that my last serious blog post had been titled ‘Hope, still under examination‘. And it is, it is still under examination. Foy Vance sang a song called ‘Two shades of hope”, and in it he sings a line that I never really understood.

“Hope deals the hardest blows…”

It is the final track on an album titled ‘Hope’. At the time I heard it, I thought I had an idea what he was getting at… but it wasnt until the past few weeks when I think it has really hit home. There were so many things I hoped for, so many things I still hope for. I hoped that one day, Cliff would trust in God to save him. I hoped he would do his body a favour and lay off the drink and the fags. I had hoped to share our birthdays together in celebration, to sing elvis songs with him again loudly and badly. I had hoped he could come to church with me some day, and maybe even help me out in a talk for the youth. I hope that, one day, I will see him again in heaven. I hope that his family will be comforted during this time and the times to come. I hope Cliffs memory and his story will inspire those who knew him to be ever more loving and caring to those they meet, and will even inspire those who never met him.

And I think Foy is right. By itself, hope can deal the hardest blows. I can hope for these things, but during the initial stages after Cliffs death, I was struggling under the uncertainty of it all. I mean, the very definition of hope implies that the outcome is ultimately unknown. And I didn’t know how to face that… how to face the prospect that despite all my hopes, they may never come to fruition. I mean, some of them haven’t come to fruition. I never got to share my birthday party with Cliff. I never got to sing Elvis with him again. He never did give up on the booze or the fags…

But is this where I have made my mistake? In focusing on hope, have I lost focus on the other two remaining graces? Faith, and love? If I had true love, would I not have made more of an effort to do everything in my power to reunite Cliff with his maker? If I had true love, would I not understand that God’s decisions are perfectly just, and that events that happen on this earth will be used in perfect love to help us grow, learn, and come closer to our Father? If I had true faith, would I not be able to hope without the need for clarification, without the need for certainty?

Even things like the news last night, that an attack was made on an army base in Antrim, resulting in the death of 2 soldiers and serious injury of others including civilians. The real IRA have claimed responsibility, and the gunmen went so far as to fire at the downed victims even as they lay on the ground. Talking to friends, many of them are fearful that it will spark a return to the ‘old days’, that retaliation will spark retaliation and it will all become out of hand once more. Is the hope that our country could have peace enough?

God has been teaching me a lot recently. I believe He has more in store for our wee country than we expect. And I believe that whatever happens, God is not done with us yet. And after the past few weeks, I know that this hope is enough for me. This hope IS enough, because I know that despite the terrible things that go on around us, God is good. I have faith that although I never understand WHY things happen the way they happen, that God still loves us, and loves us perfectly. And so I will try and learn from His love. I will hold onto the lessons He is teaching me, and hold onto the lessons He used Cliff to teach me. And I will hold onto the hope that I will see my friend Cliff once more.

Cliff was a special friend. He grew up in a ‘church family’. He became a Christian as a younger man, and became heavily involved in his church. When I met him, he was living on the streets, was addicted to alcohol and ciggarettes, and never revealed to me that he had ever at any stage made any sort of committment to God. But this wee Belfast man taught me truths about love and care and humility, and even God, that I will never forget. I miss you, Cliff. And I love you. And I hope that one day, we will sing again together in the company of our Father. I will wait for that day, our Kid… have your best singing voice ready…

The face in the window…

Posted in creative, friends, rain on May 2, 2008 by Phil Alcorn

Alone, he sat, fingers hovering over the keys. He knew, of course, what he wanted to say… The words had already taken shape in his mind’s eye, already given themselves form and reason. He knew, knew all too well what it was he wished to complete this post with. But, as had happened so many times before, hesitation had taken hold. Its bony fingers grasped his wrists, holding them back from the keyboard with a steady but strong restraint…

Sighing, he swivelled around in his chair, turning to gaze out of the murky window. The first few beads of condensation began to form at it’s extremeties, mirroring the raindrops clinging to the other side. He barely noticed, however, focusing instead on the street below, beyond this current realm of his. It was deserted now, save a few parked cars and a cat taking shelter by the gates of the school opposite his house. Small streams flowed down the roadway, pouring themselves into the waiting drains. The puddles on the footpath shook and spat as each new raindrop crashed down upon them, sending the reflection of the dull amber streetlight dancing in all directions. Somewhere in the distance, the sky flashed, lighting up but for a moment the maze of clouds that swirled overhead. The thunder rumbled a few seconds later, a low menacing threat of more to come.

Mind churning, he turned away from the window once more. The glow of the computer screen cast a strange shadow across his face, witnessed by no one. Sighing once more, he paused the song that had been playing on repeat for the past ten minutes. The melody coming softly though his speakers halted abruptly, giving way to the gentle tapping of the raindrops outside. Throwing his arms nehind his head, he swivelled in his chair a second time, now facing the interior of his room. Bible verses and inspiring quotes adorned his walls, seeming to glow out at him in the light from his lamps. His guitar stood in its stand, standing guard in the corner of the room. A half finished book lay on his bedside table, sat open at the point he had reached the night before. And everywhere, everywhere, was the stillness. The rain pattered against the window like a metronome, as he contemplated the absolute stillness of his realm. The silenced music added now to the emptiness he perceived around him, the isolation he felt creeping into the edges of his mind…

His blog post forgotten, he turned again to the window, unable to face his room any longer. Turning his attention back to the street outside, his mind fought to shut out the lonliness that so often plagued him on these late nights. Silently, and unknown to him, the clock on his computer screen clocked forward by one digit. 2:34am.

What would one think, he found himself wondering, if they glanced up at my window as they walked past outside? It was foolish, he knew, to imagine anyone going for a walk in the rain at that time of night. But the question remained. They would see a face. They would see my face… but what would they think? Would they know I exist… I mean, really exist? Would they wonder about my story? Would they ponder over what makes me tick, how I live, what I feel and hope for and dream of? Or is that all that I would be… a face in the window…

Slowly, he turned back to his computer. It would do no good to start dealing with these thoughts tonight. Better to sleep, to rest, and face the new dawn with a new resolve. These feelings that come at night, they’re so much easier to ignore during the day… best to go to sleep, and speed it’s arrival…

His eyes focused on the screen in front of him. His own words shone back. This post would not be finished tonight, he knew. He could not write what he wanted to… it was not right to do so. He saved the post, to be finished another time, and shut down his computer. Turning off his lamps and closing the curtains, he lay down on his bed, allowing the steady drumming of the heavier oncoming rain to lull him off to sleep. How many other faces are at windows tonight? he wondered, as he drifted off into slumber. I wonder if anyone thinks of them too…

*********************************

Steadily, he paced through the wind blowing against him. Camera bag over his shoulder, tripod under his arm, and raincoat flapping around him, he made his way home along the road. The night hadn’t been a total waste – he had managed to get some pretty good snaps of the clouds before the rain simply became too heavy for him to risk soaking his camera any further. He pressed on, feeling the water from the puddles entering his shoes with every step… old trainers may be comfortable, but they have their downsides too. Passing by the school, he stole a glance up at his friends house. There, in the window, illuminated by the glow of a computer screen, sat his friend. It was hard to make out, the fog on the inside of the window reaching almost halfway to the top of the glass. Stopping, he considered calling his friend on his mobile, stopping for a cup of tea, having a chat… the late hour, he knew, would not necessarily be a problem. As he watched, however, the glow of the computer screen died, and the curtains closed. He turned away, and proceeded with his walk back to his own house. Better not to bother his friend if he was heading to bed – sleep is a valuable thing, they both knew that all too well. Still, he thought, it would have been nice to have a chat, to hear what his friend had been up to, share stories of the past few days… their chats were always something he looked forward to.

Walking on, the rain continued to pelt against him, and the wind began to strengthen. Lightning flashed once more, as he thought about his friend, the face in the window, and gave thanks for him. That face in the window, though he didn’t always know it, was a real blessing…

foy, and some thievery…

Posted in Foy Vance, friends, rain on July 22, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

Today was an unusual day. There were some tensions at home due to my sleeping habits, work was busy, and a non-uniform day was in effect (which I didn’t realise until I got in…)

It was Becca’s birthday today too, Happy 22nd Becca! Though I doubt she reads this… she’s my sister by the way…

After work, we were meant to go out for a birthday dinner, but due to some unpredictable circumstances, it was cancelled, during which time I was offered and accepted a ticket to see Foy play at the Waterfront in Belfast (dinner was later un-cancelled, although I by now wasn’t attending). So, my second viewing of a live Foy gig was unbelieveable!! It was my first public gig, and he was outstanding! The man has some serious serious talent, playing a variety of styles in a variety of songs, some his own and some covers… he is fast becoming one of my favourite artists!

I also have to note thta a real novelty of the gig was how I managed to get the ticket… Foy had set some aside for a friend of mine and their family, and one had to cancel last minute, so my friend asked me if I’d like to go… So not only did I get a free ticket, but it was a ticket for the private seating at a standing only gig! I felt well lucky, and appreciated every second of it!

Oh, and as I sign off due to dodgy connection, let me explain the reference to thievery… I’m currently piggy backing on my neighbours’ unsecured wireless from the comfort of my bed, something I only just realised I can do!!

Oh, and it was raining earlier, and I got wet… I love the rain…

Home from SM…

Posted in friends, rain, randomness, Summer Madness on July 6, 2007 by Phil Alcorn

Still formulating my thoughts on what was a long and very different SM (for me) than past years… and hence I won’t blog on my thoughts specifically until I get them clear in my head… I’ve also began to notice how often I finish sentences with three dots… it’s probably something i should work on, but I’m too tired to really care right now…

One thing I SHALL mention now (because I promised I would) is how much I love the rain. I don’t know how many other people like the rain… seemingly it depresses a lot of people. Not me, however. I love going for long walks in the pouring rain, wierd as it may be. I remember one day in particular I passed Connor on the way home from a lecture, and the sky had really just opened up, we were both drenched, and he seemed incredulous that I was enjoying the whole affair… Anyways, it was raining last night as we were leaving Summer Madness, and Ruth, Michelle and April were huddled under an umbrella, giving me the most intense ‘you’re a wierdo’ looks for enjoying what was barely more than a drizzle under the night sky. Of course, since it was late and we were all a little tired, this led to discussion on whether I was, in fact, a merman… I have had some WIERD conversations this past week…