Dear friends,

Greetings from Queensland, on this January 1, 2021!

This is my yearly “hello” to those near and far, although I feel like this year we have been more in touch, even while more confined and separated!

One of the least known and perhaps most overlooked feast days in the Catholic liturgical year is that of January 1st. I confess that I often – in true Irish form – focus more on the past (in celebration or lament! ?) than on what feels like an unknown, and therefore shaky, future. Holding December 31st up to the light, we seek to learn from, or even celebrate, the ending of what is past, rather than toast the unknown newborn year, when we cannot know and even less control, what it may become.

So how interesting it is that we celebrate Mary, Mother of God, on this day, every year! Mary has other feast days, but this one is about her role as a human mother of a God-made-human.

I am not sure what image of Mary each one of you were given. For years, I struggled with her as a woman so far removed from my understanding of life as a woman born in 20th century Ireland! And yet, who’s to say those in the future won’t look at us and sigh: “what were they thinking?”.

Time has taught me to recognise two things in her life:

  1. First: a courageous, faith-filled, audacious, clear-as-day woman of God who walked on water every day of her never-easy life, responding to a call she could not have made-up or imagined!
  2. Second, the way God does things: loving, trusting and choosing the most human of pathways to make divine love present: a woman, giving birth, to a child, who is the God-child, completely dependent on her to survive!

So, who better to enter into this year with, eh? Who better to ask for help in making this newly born year become something beautiful, strong, worthwhile?

Therefore, in the midst of the fragility we all experience at the end of this year, I pray she will take care of you, and of me, like she did Jesus,  as we tiptoe into 2021. I find it quite consoling to trust she will; and invite you to try it.

2020 was not without beauty, for me:

With many of you present, I launched my latest CD: Strange Life, the Music of Doubtful Faith. It was beautiful to stage it as an online streamed event, with people around the world tuning in. The raw footage of the launch is here. But it is better heard in the various online formats one can use.

It was a long time in the making. I am grateful to Alán Martinez for his help in the pre-production process, and Adrian Hannan at The SONGSTORE, for his production genius (and the support of Barb and Josh Hannan),  for helping me bring to birth the best CD I have made, to date. And just as grateful for the people the Spirit is bringing together to make it go further: the musicians who are at the heart of this next stage: Macauley Parker-Burton, and Wayne Michael. Not without props.

Adapted Cheese-guitar board, to make guitars sound good!

We are discerning and deciding where we need to take our music in 2021. Watch this space!

On a more personal note, in prayer these days, I sense God speaking to me about freedom, about believing that my life – our lives – are in our own hands to unfold as we will, if we take our lives seriously! December marks my dad’s anniversary, and he used to say to me: “you can be whatever you want to be”. And while we know we do have our limitations, there is a fundamental truth here: you are the only one who can determine who you become…what you make of “this one wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver) you have. Take that seriously!

This year is about the book that accompanies that CD: entitled Suspended God: The Music of Doubtful Faith, the book brings together a case for music as theological with its application in a series of songs (explained a bit more here). It is a book I need to write, or have always needed to write. So, forgive me, as I disappear over January, or even further. I need to withdraw from the world of social communication and media to draw from within some words worth saying. Your prayer for this endeavour would be appreciated.

In the meantime, I hope you are well, and am grateful for the connectedness you make me feel part of.

Blessings on you and yours!


January 1, 2021, Queensland, Australia.