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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life

  • Privilege and Responsibility

    Yesterday I was entrusted with one of the greatest privileges as a minister - conducting a funeral service.  This was a very special one, because it was another minister, and it was definitively the last service in Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church, Paisley, which had been opened specially for this purpose.

    The church was pretty full - there must have been over 200 people in the congregation - and the family were truly amazing in delivery of a significant poem and some personal memories.  Afterwards, we moved on to a local cemetery for burial before an opportunity to share memories in a hotel.

    It's always interesting to learn about people as we say farewell to them, and this was no exception, and it's always a real privilege to be permitted to share in such a personal event.

    DR was a faithful minister, a beloved family man, and I am glad I knew him these last ten years.  May he rest in peace and rise in glory.



  • A Year's Supply Maybe...

    Today I placed my first order with "Who Gives a Crap" for toilet rolls and tissues (apparently they also do kitchen rolls, so maybe another time)... A small company that sells only recycled paper and bamboo products... I opted to splash out on the bamboo loo rolls, to see what they are like... as it's a box of 48, I hope they are OK!!

    You can find out more about this company here and how buying loo rolls from them is kinder to the planet and helps to build loos for people who otherwise might not have them.

    A few months back I twinned my toilet (see how to do that here) so this seemed like the logical next step.

  • World Mental Health Day

    One day a year to focus on mental health, and this year specifically on suicide.

    Mental illness is still the subject of stigma and poor understanding, and it can be really difficult of those affected, and those who care, to negotuiate a path through the experience.  That trauma, bereavement, child-birth, hormonal changes and major physical illnesses can all impact mental health and wellbeing further complicates amtters and comments/campaigns such as "I wish I had cancer" are really not at all helpful - comparing conditions that 'mine is worse than yours' is so unhelpful.

    A decade ago, soon after I arrived in Glasgow, two young girls committed suicide, jumping from the Erskine Bridge.  That memory stays with with me, a reminder of the fragility of life and that, but for the grace of God, there go any of us.

  • Journalling with the French Pantoum!

    Whatever exercises we do on the GPRL course, we are invited to journal about it - to write about the process, what it felt like, what we experienced, how we might have heard God in any of it.

    Last night, after journalling about the prayer as art exercise, we were invited to created what was called a 'French Pantoum' from it.  The process was roughly thus...

    Read through the journal emtry and underline six phrases/sentences that stood out for us.  These would become the pantoum.

    Step 1 - write out sequentially the first four phrases





    This is the first stanza

    Step 2 - write out, sequentially the phrases





    This is the second stanza

    Step 3 - write out, sequentially, the phrases





    This is the third stanza

    The mathematics and symmetry is attractive to me, the  resultant 'poem', if such it be, surprising.

    So, here is what I wrote (with a few small tweks, which are permitted apparently!)

    Maybe this is God, glittering in the background:

    I am pleased with what I have made,

    Delight in creating

    A little seed, trampled underfoot.


    I am pleased with what I have made:

    Defiantly bursting out of the earth, season by season

    A little seed, trampled underfoot.

    I feel proud of what I am.


    Defiantly bursting out of the earth, season by season,

    To delight in creating.

    I feel proud of what I am:

    Maybe this is God, glittering in the background


  • GPRL Six Sessions Already!

    Growth in Prayer and Reflective Living (GPRL) is an acadmeic year course in Ignatian Spirituality which I am taking as part of a (academic) year-long sabbatical process - not a massive chunk of time 'out of harness' to spend in splendid isolation, but a 'portfolio' (as the trendy word has it) of shorter sabbatical spaces.

    Although I missed two sessions (on the 'Examen' and 'Lectio Divina', each of which I am already quite familiar with) we have now completed six out of thirty-four and have a 'pause week' next week.

    Last night was a marmite session, I guess - praying with art. Some will loathe it, and they did.  Some will fear it, and they did.  Some will love it, and I did!

    The image is my meditation on the parable of the mustard seed (the set text for the evening) and is the result of 45 minutes industrious endeavour, thought, prayer, reflection, feeling and being.

    There is good scientific evidence that humans think/process/pray differently if their hands are occupied, whether doodling, 'telling' beads, making things with lego, sewing or knitting.  It's why people can knit (even complex patterns) whilst watching television or reading.  It's why some people think by writing.  It's why people use fidget toys.

    I am really enjoying the course so far.  The articles we are given to read are interesting, the exercises wide ranging, the sharing meaningful, the 'space' helpful.

    Most people probably won't ever get into art (or craft) as prayer, and that's fine.  But for those of us who do, it is a real gift of God.