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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life

  • Up above the streets and houses...

    My evening walk this evening was all four seasons in an hour, let alone a day!  As heavens opened the most beautiful rainbow appeared, so much so that people stood in the street and snapped photos (obviously I was one of them!).

    I do love rainbows.  I love the tradition that they are the sign of God's promise to creation after the great flood.  I love that they can mean so many things to so many people, that no-one actually 'owns' them.  Rainbows always make me smile, always remind me that there is hope... so what's not to like?

    I am very fortunate to have plenty of pleasant walks on my doorstep - whether riverside, streets, parks or a mixture.  Now I am indoors, the sun is out, the birds are singing their evening songs and life feels positive.

  • A Time to Every Purpose...

    Yesterday was a long day (I was away from home for a good 17 hours).  An important day; a strange day; a needed day.

    I arrived early at the cemetery, knowing that this would give me time to adjust from travelling mode to, well whatever mode it was. Daughter? Minister? Both?  I'm still not quite sure!

    Soon afterwards the gravedigger arrived, he had other plots to prepare, so he too had arrived early.  We got chatting as ministers and cemetery workers do, and it turned out he's worked in that cemetery as a grave-digger since 1990 - so it's almost certain that he had dug my Dad's grave, as a young man, with a spade because little JCB-type diggers weren't common practice back then.  Certainly when I pointed out the nearby grave of one my classmates who had died tragically and very young, he recalled digging that one.  I quite like the idea that he dug my Dad's grave and now, also by hand, had dug the space for my Mum's cremated remains.

    The FD arrived early too, carrying a very smart, plain silver carrier bag inside which was the basket-work casket.  I explained it was just me, that I was happy to place the casket myself and thanked her for all they had done for Mum.  I felt a bit mean, she probably had almost an hour's drive each way for five minutes, but hse seemed OK and was consumately professional.

    So that was that, then.  A few minutes earlier than the official time, I read some scripture, said some words of committal and prayed a blessing, then I popped some flowers in the vase .  The FD came over and back-filled the hole, and I placed a potted rose bush in front of the headstone (which has yet to up altered or replaced).  I thanked him and he left.

    The sun shone, it was a  warm, late-summer afternoon.  I stood looking out across this once familiar place, and thought (briefly) of those I had known who now lay here.

    At the end of the road leading to the cemetery stands the house where I lived from 9 - 18.  Once a council house, it's now long since in private ownership, but apart from the windows and the fence at the side, little seems to have changed.  The hedge at the front - which I spent many hours cutting as a teenager - is still there.  The apple tree remains, and forsythia bush my Dad planted is still growing next to the gate.

    It was a strange day - a long way to go for something that took at most five minutes.  It was an important day - I needed to complete this process, fulfilling Mum's last request. 

    I have no idea if it did whatever I might have hoped or wanted it to do, because honestly I don't know what what I hoped or wanted, beyond a bit of closure or completeness.  Perhaps I wanted some time to be daughter not minister - but the two are not entirely separable after all.

    I am really grateful to the long standing friends I visted afterwards for a cup of tea and a natter before catching my homebound train.

    Before I left, I took this photo of me with the house where I spent those years in the background. 

    westfield road.jpg

    At the time we moved there it was pretty much a 'sink' area, it seems to be remain an intriguing mix of rough-and-ready and aspirational, along with a number of retirement bungalows, and all of it just down from the place where most residents will one day take their final rest. 

    August 8th 1972 we moved into that house (on the right in the photo), 15th August 2018 I said farewell for what is almost certainly the last time.

    As I said on social media, "The girl from Westfield Road hasn't done too bad".

     

    To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

    The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

  • Wrapping up the TeamBuilders Theme...

    This Sunday is the last (number seven of seven) service based on the SU material.  It's been an interesting challenge to work with it.  I've enjoyed reading some fairly large chunks of scripture to enable me to compose the 'stories' of the characters we've met.  I've been stretched once or twice when themes that emerged were too similar to events in our own contemporary context, and 'reflections' had to be re-worked.  I've also given quite a lot of thought to what is - or isn't - helpful in encouraging others to engage with the stories.

    All of this with a personal backdrop of adjusting to the death of my mother (just over three months ago now) and organising a simple ceremony for the burial of her ashes (which will take place tomorrow).  As I have said, elsewhere, grief is a funny old thing, and managing my thoughts and feelings over recent weeks has been its own challenge - some of what I've explored in the Bible stories has also come quite close to home.

    I've been very blessed to have the love and friendship of the Gatherers, even, or maybe especially, when I I've been a pain in the b*m.  Being part of "Team Gathering Place" is very precious, and I am privileged indeed to continue to serve among and alongside these good folk.  Maybe that's all a bit mushy slushy, but hey ho.  Another summer series draws to its end, and the God who has brought us safe thus far will continue to lead us on.

    (Likely to be radio silence for a day or three due to travels south and meetings when I come back home)