when I pray the Our Father
I wonder
whether I condemn myself
by the words I speak –
“Forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those
who trespass against us”.

I try really hard
to be a good Christian
and I do my best
to forgive.
Then, out of the blue,
I meet someone
who has wronged me
in the past,
someone whom I believed
I had forgiven
and my heart instantly fills
with resentment.

Then I think
that if God’s forgiveness
mirrors my own meagre efforts,
I’m doomed!

help me to forgive others
so that, when I pray the Our Father,
I may not have that sinking feeling
that I have just been condemned
out of my own mouth.

© Claire Murray, 10th February 2018



I seem to have heard
so much bad news recently –
about people who have died,
about people who are seriously ill
and about a young relative
who is terminally ill.

Never in all my years
have I encountered so much illness
and death.
Lines of a hymn capture how I feel –
“Change and decay
in all around I see”.

Today the world feels
like a dark, dark place.

But the shopping still has to be done
and so, at the weekend,
I drive out to Crumlin
to go to Tesco’s.
As I approach the town
something in a garden
catches my eye –
snow drops!
And I don’t just mean
a few clumps of snow drops
here and there;
this entire garden
was an expanse of snow drops!

Never in all my years
have I seen
such a carpet of snow drops.
Today those snow drops feel
like a little nudge
from My God,
as he gently reminds me
that it’s spring time
and that there’s hope.

And as I continue my drive
to Tesco’s
the world feels
like a brighter place.

© Claire Murray, 10th February 2018

Life Can Turn on a Sixpence

My friend Josie
has a wee saying,
“Life can turn on a sixpence”.
This saying fills my mind
as I settle down
to morning prayer.

I remember friends
who died suddenly
and other friends and a cousin
who are bravely battling
a formidable opponent –

life feels very, very precious
and very unpredictable.

On this ordinary, dull Friday morning
I give thanks to My God
for today’s cherished gifts
of life and health,
family and friends.

these all feel very precious to me
because I’m so aware
that life can turn on a sixpence
and that tomorrow
my world could easily be
a very different place.

© Claire Murray, 28th January 2018

Green Pea Soup

One day
my sister Brenda asked Mammy
what was for lunch that day.
“Green pea soup”, replied Mammy.
For Brenda,
this was simply the last straw.
So Brenda took drastic action –
she ran away from home.

This happened in Derry
at the start of The Troubles.
Brenda made a bee-line
for the Bog Side.
There, she spotted a woman
who was doing her shopping.
In and out of the shops
went the woman,
and in and out of the shops,
close behind her,
went Brenda.
The woman became concerned
at this uninvited follower
and she flagged down
a passing British army patrol.
Several minutes later
Brenda, then aged three and a half,
was picked up by British soldiers
(who gave her a bar of Cadbury’s Whole Nut
and soon reunited her with Mammy).

Brenda, at that early age,
was simply looking for
someone to follow.

I am reminded of this
by today’s gospel reading
in which Jesus is walking along,
minding his own business,
only to find that he is being followed
by two strangers.
Jesus’ response
is one of openness, generosity
and welcome –
he invites the strangers
to spend the day with him.
These strangers accept Jesus’ invitation
go on to become
disciples of Jesus.

There are times in life
when we all need
someone to follow,
someone who is prepared
to make time for us,
someone who will not baulk
at how needy we might be.

At those times
when we need someone to follow,
someone to help us,
why not look to Jesus?
He will always
make time for us.
He will always respond
with openness, generosity
and welcome.
(And I don’t think that he’ll ever tell us
that it’s green pea soup
for lunch!)

© Claire Murray, 4th January 2018


Only twelve days to go until Christmas
and life feels very busy!

So many presents to buy
and then to wrap,
so many cards to write!
Sneakily creating a Christmas card
while pretending to work upstairs.
Going to shops before work,
after work
and then shopping online at night time!

So much rushing about,
so much to do!

But this morning,
before work,
Paul and I go to Mass at St Mary’s
and stepping through the front door of the church
is like stepping into

No dashing about,
no rushing.
Just time to slow down
and be still
in the presence of Our God.

Thank you, Lord,
today’s morning Mass,
this oasis of calm
in the midst of Christmas mayhem.

Remind me, Lord,
to dip into this calmness again
during the December rush
so that, when Christmas comes,
I will be ready
to welcome you.

© Claire Murray, 13th December 2017

The Immaculate Conception

Today is the feast
of the Immaculate Conception
and I find myself thinking about Our Lady
and the huge amount of trust
that she placed in God –
a trust so great
that Our Lady agreed
not only to be the mother of God,
but to become the mother of God
while she was, as yet, unmarried.

I remember
one of my favourite phrases
from scripture,
“Blessed is she who believed
that the promise made her by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

I think of special intentions
that I pray for,
sometimes for years on end,
prayers that seem, to me,
to go unanswered.
I sense
that these apparently unanswered prayers
are really “works in progress” –
they are simply prayers
that haven’t been answered …

On this feast of the Immaculate Conception
I sense My God inviting me
to take a leaf out of Our Lady’s book
and, like Our Lady,
I feel truly blessed.

© Claire Murray, 7th December 2017

Does God Dance?

Sometimes I wonder to myself,
“Does God dance?”
And I wonder, if God does dance,
what would it be like?

Would God have the grace
of a ballerina?
Or the energy
of a hip-hop dancer?
Would God be a dab-hand
at hand-jiving?
Would God be measured and sophisticated
like a ballroom dancer?

Do you reckon
that God might break-dance
or turn cartwheels?
Or might God be sedate and rhythmic
like an elderly Nelson Mandela?

I have no idea, obviously,
how God would dance.

But I like to think
that God’s dance
would be an explosion
of sheer joy,
bursting with energy
and entirely unpredictable.
I imagine
that simply watching God dance
would fill onlookers with joy,
inspiring them to join-in,
with each person dancing
their own personal dance,
with all traces of self-consciousness

And so I sometimes wonder
if God dances …
and it makes me smile!

© Claire Murray, 1st December 2017

Coming Out of the Closet

Members of the gay community
use the term
“coming out of the closet”
to describe the process
of revealing their sexual orientation to others
for the first time.

In a way
I am coming out of the closet
in a spiritual sense
and in a musical sense.

I wouldn’t have been a person
to wear my faith
on my sleeve
for fear of being labelled
a “holy Joe”
and I certainly didn’t tell people
that I could sing –
I kept that a secret.

This feels like a different stage
in my life –
a time to be more open,
a time to reach out to others,
a time to share my gifts,
a time to bring a little flavour of God with me
wherever I go.

I feel that I have finally
come out of the closet
in a spiritual sense
and in a musical sense.
And do you know what?
It feels good!

© Claire Murray, 25th November 2017

Squeaky Toy

Tufty the dog snoozes
in a corner of the living room.
a squeak is heard
from one of Tufty’s doggy toys.
Tufty jumps up immediately
and goes haring around the house
in pursuit of the sound.

Distracting Tufty
is so easy –
one squeak from her favourite doggy toy
and Tufty drops everything
to come running.

Sometimes I feel a bit like Tufty
when I settle down to pray.
I get so easily distracted.
One stray thought
and my attention is hopelessly gone.
I sincerely hope
that My God pays more attention to me
that I pay to Him at times!

bless me now
as I settle down to pray.
Help me
to still my heart and my mind
so that I may fix my gaze
on you
and not be distracted
like Tufty is
when she hears her squeaky toy.

© Claire Murray, 22nd November 2017


One winter’s evening
I drive home from work
by a different route.
Headlights from on-coming traffic
make it difficult to discern
the unfamiliar road ahead.
I make an error of judgement
and narrowly avoid driving our car
onto the grass verge.

My heart pounds.

The following evening I discover
that even simple journeys,
when undertaken at night,
transform into
challenging ordeals of concentration.

My confidence is gone.

We go to Sunday Mass in Straw
where we sit behind a mother
and her teenage daughter
who has Downe’s syndrome.
I offer up this Mass
for my new-found fear
of night-driving.

At the end of Mass
the teenage girl turns around.
She is very pretty
and gives me a beaming smile
as she says,
“You’re beautiful!”

I’m astounded
at such a spontaneous
and unexpected compliment.

As we drive away from Straw
my heart soars
and I sense My God give me a little nudge,
reminding me
that He will be with me
at all times,
just like he usually is,
especially when
I drive in the dark.

© Claire Murray, 21st November 2017