Stocki  Jani and Jed

Last year we met a couple on Ballycastle beach. They were searching in the sand. We asked if we could help. Had they lost something. It appears that the woman liked frosted glass. The way the sea wears it down. 

As we were about to walk on the man says, "Are you Steve Stockman". I confessed. He said that he had heard me doing a Pause For Thought on the radio about this beach, about walking it with my wife and dog. "Welcome into that Pause For Thought", I laughed. 

He said that he had heard it during Covid and after lockdown, he was so taken by my story, that they came and walked the beach. They loved it so much that they now had bought a house in Ballycastle. Wow! The influence. 

Of course the buying of houses is not my aim. Here is that Pause For Thought. We did it as our "Evensong" again tonight as we do religiously while we are in residence in Ballycastle. 


The north coast of Northern Ireland has been in the spotlight recently. Not only Game Of Thrones but the British Open golf. The Open was played in Portrush. As a child I loved Portrush. It was loud and bright and busy. Amusements, Rollercoaster, big beaches.

Ballycastle along the coast, I really did not like. It seemed a little dull. Yet twenty years later my wife and I bought a house there because it was cheaper. And in the last twenty years I have come to love the quieter town… smaller… less crowded… more scenic beach views.

We live in a bright loud world and being still and reflective has become a lost art, a rarity, a very difficult task. Almost by default Ballycastle beach has become my meditative space. In the late evening we walk across the beach and marvel at the sunsets behind Kinbane Head and Rathlin Island.

It is on these walks that I hear most God’s still small voice. This is where my body, heart and soul slow down. When I stop for a deep breath. Here I often have a sense that in a very ordinary evening walk something extraordinary is going on. 

Like a while back. Out for the nightly stroll I looked across at my wife Janice… our beloved dog Jed. I then looked out at Fair Head, our high cliff shelter, all its veins jutting out in strength and beauty.

And the still small voice inside me whispered, “Look Steve… do you get it. This is what the human life is all about”

So I started to ponder. The Christian Bible begins and ends with visions of oneness… between human and human… human and creation… human and God. 

The entire Christian story is based around broken relationships being somehow restored by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The still small voice was pointing out that I was getting an inkling of it as I held my wife’s hand and smiled at our dog’s love, and as I inwardly gave thanks for the wonder of creation. 

I then heard the voice of Van Morrison speaking about another part of Northern Ireland, “Wouldn't it be great if it was like this all the time”.


and a poem...


Just how sensational is that blue

The one made by these light beams

Not the darker cathartic kind

That soothes the bluesman’s bad dreams

This one's made by the evening sun

Setting low above the town

Just two hours before the candle glow

That deep orange of it going down


Just how many shapes can clouds throw

Like they’re belching out smoke from a fire

As if they’ve built a hundred chimney stacks

All across the Mull Of Kintyre

And the ripples and dimples and sky waves

As they float out towards Rathlin Island

I’m not sure Dawkins has it right

‘Cos I’m pretty sure God is smiling


And I look at who I’m with

You’re the image of something higher

Higher than sunset's bursting colours

That set the sky on fire


Just how vivid is this evening air

The Fair Head’s deciding to strut right out

Veins of rock with heaven in the detail

Leaves the atheist a mountain of doubt

There is a beauty elusively placed

That picture postcards just can’t capture

Like you walking this beach beside me girl

God has me by the throat with his rapture.


And I look at who I’m with

You’re the image of something higher

Higher than sunset's bursting colours

That set the sky on fire


This is our place

Our mystical space

Where we clear the clouds that have been

This is our time

The verse to our rhyme

Where we find visions of pictures unseen.


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