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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life

  • The Rev I M Amused...

    Every Saturday evening, I transform my office into 'church' by hanging up various pieces of fabric, and then setting up a focus.  I enjoy doing this, it makes the space feel different and helps me get into the 'zone.' But it also causes me to chuckle - no bad thing.  You see, I always wonder if it looks like a throw back to 'Stars in Sunday' or even Ricky Fullton's 'Rev I M Jolley'.

    Making me smile, and maybe making others smile, is a good thing.

    Enabling me, and maybe others,  to have a greater sense of 'church', as in being more consciously aware of being in God's presence, is even better.

  • My Lockdown Words...

    This morning I had my regular meeting (virtual of course) with my Pastoral Supervisor, as part of which we completed my annual CMD review as required by the BUS as well as some more general reflection.  One of the things I came away with was a desire to note down words (or phrases) that have emerged as important for me during lockdown.

    So here's where I've got to!

    • Authenticity - being real, not always easy, especially when you have a public role, and also doing my best to enable/empower other people to be real.
    • Creativity - we have all had to be creative, adapting to new virtual platforms for services, and finding new ways to connect with each other.  Re-engaging with aspects of my own creativity.
    • Intentionality - the need to not so much to be organised (though it helps) but to be meaningful in what I do.
    • Positivity - there is so much that seems negative, destructive and death-dealing, so I have chosen to focus on positives.  For sure, sometimes I get fed up, annoyed even angry, but I try avoid being drawn into spirals of negativity and intentionally seek out positives, however small or trivial.
    • Immediacy - being present in the moment, allowing myself to feel what I feel, not parking it for future, rational reflection! This helps avoid the positivity becoming forced or fake.
    • Noticing - more than just being aware of what's around me, but spending time to savour it... I must have taken thousands of photos over the last six months, capturing beauty and humour, natural and humanly created.
    • Slowing down - I can't find one word to encapsulate this, but it's very much tied up with immediacy, intentionality and noticing.  It's not so much that I race through life and so miss out on living, as about making more of the wonder, beauty and even 'being' of life.  Pausing to take photos, sitting and watching the world go by... And also not driving myself to achieve, which is, at times, a very real challenge.

    I wonder what words or phrases, themes or ideas are emerging for others?

  • 400,000 Steps and 100,000 More...

    Events conspired to thwart Plan A for fundraising in gratitude for being ten years on from my cancer diagnosis, so instead, I signed up to walk 400,000 steps during October for the charity Breast Cancer Now.  Once we get there, I will post a link, but not yet.
    The challenge will mean walking on average about two hours a day every day of October, so it's a good challenge to fit in around work and shortening days.
    It struck me there are many ways of looking at this...
    Firstly, if, as the www suggests, a mile is roughly 2000 steps then this is roughly 200 miles or about 320 km, the challenge could be expressed as something like...
    Thirty 10k events
    Ten Pink Ribbon Walks
    Eight marathons
    Or, in terms of trails I have walked in the past...
    Once across the Trans Pennine Trail, Liverpool to Hull
    A little over the length of Offa's Dyke
    Twice along the West Highland Way
    Two and a half times along Hadrian's Wall
    Almost four times along the St Magnus Way
    It it could also be expressed in other units...
    Every year around 55,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer - so since my diagnosis in 2010, that's around half a million, or a large UK city. That it is less than one step per person diagnosed in that time (indeed, I am intending on walking an additional 100,00 steps in the second half of September to bring my total up to half a million).
    Over the last decade, roughly forty women I have known personally have died of breast cancer... so that is a mere 10 thousand steps, or half a mile, for each one of them. So once we get into October, for every ten thousand steps I walk, I will recall and honour the name of one of these women.
    If you are able to, and would like to, donate, when the time comes, that's great. But more importantly, do the checks, take the screening and report any concerns.

  • Much Food for Thought

    Apologies to loyal readers that posting is increasingly infrequent, and then tends to be splurges of several posts all at once!  A typical week now seems to involve at least ten to a dozen online meetings (all which are really good) and so time for blogging gets squeezed almost to zero.

    Yesterday was an all day online conference 'in' Oxford and an evening lecture 'in' Manchester.  Both involved people I repsect - and indeed some whom I count as friends - leading sharing theological thoughts with audiences in excess of 70 devices from around the globe.  That's food for thought in and of itself.

    "Communion, Covenant and Creativity" was an exploration of ideas around the Communion of saints from a Baptist perspective, drawing on insights from the arts - paintings, music and poetry.  There was a bit of philosophy and of course theology.  It was wonderful, rich and varied (even if the Zoom doorbell hadn't been turned off by the host!), gave me much to ponder and some ideas for Remembrance Sunday too! You can buy the book on which it was based here (other booksellers are available). 

    "Finding a Friend: the Baptist Encounter with Judaism"  was, for me, an excellent reminder of history I knew, and stories that were new.  The accompanying Q&A was thoughtful and helpful. Again the full lecture can be purchased here (gone are the days when the Whitley lecturer had to cart hundreds of copies around with them to sell to students and others as they visited assorted Baptist Colleges).

    Not quite a day 'off' but a day of stimulating inputs to feed my mind and maybe also my soul.  Both will be available a recordings and I am fairly sure a quick broswer search would take you to them, once they are uploaded.

  • Officially Old?

    Many readers will be familiar with the poem that says, 'when I am old I wil wear purple with a red hat that doesn't go.'  Well, on Sunday I wore purple tights with a red duffle coat and headed off for a lovely autumn walk kicking up leaves and, if not running a stick along the park railings, at least using them to prop up my phone so I could get a selfie!

    The red duffle coat is now a decade old - buying it was an act of defiance and decadence in the face of my cancer diagnosis, so that it is now ten years old is symbolic in its own right.

    To grow old is a previlege denied to far too many, and this year as a pandemic cruelly steals lives of above and beyond the five-year average (globally) perhaps that is especially and acutely apparent.

    My red duffle coat is very shabby - stains that won't come out, pills from use, and cat hairs that no amount of brushing, rollering or sellotape will remove.

    When I am old... is 57 old?  Technically, yes, as 'young old age starts' at 50-55, depending whose definition you choose.  Purple tights, red coat, knees visible below the hemline (!)... if that's old, then I'll gladly embrace it!