22 October 2014

A Hymn for Today

Sometimes I find hymns, songs, choruses, chants, etc. popping into my consciousness, and today as I looked out of my window at a 'glory in grey' sky this one came to mind...

1  Today I awake
    and God is before me  
    at night, as I dreamt,
    he summoned the day;
    for God never sleeps
    but patterns the morning
    with slithers of gold  
    or glory in grey.

2  Today I arise
    and Christ is beside me.
    He walked through the dark
    to scatter new light.
    Yes, Christ is alive,
    and beckons his people
    to hope and to heal,
    resist and invite.

3  Today I affirm
    the Spirit within me
    at worship and work,
    in struggle and rest.
    The Spirit inspires
    all life which is changing
    from fearing to faith,
    from broken to blest.

4  Today I enjoy
    the Trinity round me,
    above and beneath,
    before and behind;
    the Maker, the Son,
    the Spirit together -
    they called me to life
    and call me their friend.

John L Bell (born 1949) and Graham Maule (born 1958) © 1989 WGRG, Iona Community

Meetings, Meetings... but (Mostly) Fun Meetings!

Yesterday ended up a busy day... after heading into church and clearing some admin (such as the need to review our extreme weather plan and repsonding to an enquiry on the answerphone) I began work on Sunday's servcies and have about half a draft sermon-type-thing in place.

Next I met with someone for a chat about how they might identify roles they could helpfully - and hopefully enjoyably - fill in church.  It was a good chat, good fun and although we didn't identify an 'answer' it seemed to be positive overall.

Then, after a sandwich, it was time to meet a colleague and head off to the south of the city for a meeting with another professional in a kind of low key pastoral advocacy role.  A really positive meeting, with good outcomes that left us feeling encouraged.

Back into town, and time to discuss worship plans for the next few months... a creative and energising time that drifted naturally into some sparky fund-raising ideas for our major project.

A lovely treat of tea out with a friend (and the discovery that I like Greek olives!  I've never liked olives but every couple of years will try one to see if my taste has changed.... and it had!) which was lovely - good food and great conversation.

Then it was back out to the "Owners & Residents AGM" and the more mundane matters of repairs to lifts, when to get the external doors painted and whether or not call in environmental health to deal with the pigeons!!  Fortunately it's all pretty good humoured and there are clear guidelines for approving such works.

Today is no less busy, but very differently focussed... hopefully another fun day in prospect.

20 October 2014

Language Lessons

The sad news of the death from metastatic colon cancer of actress Lynda Bellingham seems to have become accompanied by the usual phrases about 'losing her battle'.  If she or her family used that language (I have no idea whether they did) then I respect that, but it really isn't a helpful expression.

Did she lose?  No, I don't think she did.  She faced, and made, some tough treatment choices, allowed her story to be told, and then died in the arms of her husband, having lived her life as fully as she could for as long as she could.

Was it a battle?  Here I may depart from some people directly affected by cancer, but I really dislike the 'battle' language (and posted about that during my own treatment).  How is it a 'battle' when it is with/against our own bodies?  How is it a fight against some perceived enemy, when this is 'flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone', albeit gone awry, become unhealthily immortal...?

I continue to prefer the 'journey' metaphor which moves away from 'winning and losing' language and gives permission to those who choose different treatment (or non-treatment) paths to find the own way through.  If a journey concludes in death, it is not a failure, any more than if it conlcudes in remission or (in some cases and some types of cancer) cure it is a success.  This is not a wishy-washy alternative - journey does not mean 'stroll in the park', it may include 'valleys as dark as death', it may require near impossible ascents or descents; it may mean torrential rain and howling gales... but it means that what's right for me is right for me, and what's right for you is right for you.  It means no one does 'better' or 'worse' just different.  It means that the person who dies has not 'lost', has not some how 'failed' or been 'defeated', rather it acknowledges a destination from an unchosen journey, travelled with courage, humour, determination (or any other mentions or attitudes) has been reached.  It does not deny or belittle the reality of loss, but it does free everyone from the potential for guilt, blame or regret.

Rest in peace, Lynda Bellingham, you travelled your journey with courage and tenacity, encouraging and reassuring others along your way.

Oh, and of course if you are 50+ and live in Scotland, or 60+ and live in England, Northern Ireland or Wales, then please, please, please do the bowel sreening... it may be 'poopy' but it might save you travelling one unwanted journey...

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