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  • National Poetry Day

    It's lovely to see people posting their favourite poems on blogs and social media today - a veritable feast for anyone who enjoys poetry.  I'm not sure that I have a favourite, rather there are many that I treasure, as much as anything, for the associations they hold.  Even so, in the general spirit of the day, I'm going to share this, which is one of my favourite Christmas poems, and a short reflection of why it is so...


    by U A Fanthorpe

    This was the moment when Before
    Turned into After, and the future's
    Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
    This was the moment when nothing
    Happened. Only dull peace
    Sprawled boringly over the earth.
    This was the moment when even energetic Romans
    Could find nothing better to do
    Than counting heads in remote provinces.
    And this was the moment
    When a few farm workers and three
    Members of an obscure Persian sect.
    Walked haphazard by starlight straight
    Into the kingdom of heaven.

    I guess part of the reason I love this poem is my own experience of a BC:AD paradigm shift (Before Cancer: After Diagnosis) amidst the mundane ordinariness of life when everyione else just got on with doing what they were doing.  I love it, too, for sense of serendipity as the farm workers and the Persians (three? Probably not!) haphazardly wander into the Kingdom of Heaven... this seems to reflect my own experience that, often, it's not the planned or overtly spiritual times and places where I encounter God, but the unexpected 'hmmm' moments when something resonates, or several ideas coalesce and I glimpse again the mystery of the faith that shapes my life.

  • Charity begins at home...

    Well, sort of, yes, at least in so far as I've just sent a whole van load of stuff to a charity from my home - and they seem genuinely thrilled with what I've given them.

    I still have some books to go to Oxfam and some bric-a-brac to go to Cats Protection, but the bulk of the stuff has gone to Tomorrow's People, a charity that seeks to help young people into employment who might otherwise find it very difficult.  They have a large 'furniture and more' shop near where I live, and it's good to know that my spare stuff will bring hope and joy to others.

    I look forward to my less clutttered home, and a more 'grown up' life style once I've got properly straight again.  It's all good.

  • Like Topsy, it just growed...

    Today I have a wonderfully accommodating electrician working really hard to install a new isolator ready for the arrival of my new induction hob next week.

    In theory, it was a straight forward job - cut a hole, route through a heavy duty cable, add an isolator.  But, like Topsy, these things just grow and become more complex.

    'Interesting' design features of the flat mean that he has had to create a new pathway for the cabling between the ceiling and the structure above it... but the gap is tiny and here and there are strange obstacles to be overcome.

    He has remained good humoured and really is working his socks off to get it done, even going so far as to recommend someone to make good the plaster work where he's had to cut through.  So far, I am very impressed... and looking forward to my kitchen once it's all complete.

    Note to self, though, nothing is ever as simple or straight forward as it seems!

  • Shapenote meets Hillsong!

    So, I've chosen a new version of a very old hymn for Sunday, partly because for once I actually find the new version preferrable to the orignal.  I paid for a legitimate download of the music and then, when looking for viedos that would help me get my brain around the alto part, came across this, which is just brilliant - Hillsong Shapenote style...

  • Pink and Fluffy - But I'll make an Exception!

    For a girl who doesn't do pink, doesn't do fluffy, dosen't really do bling, and for whom the pink fluffyiness of so much Pink Ribbon merchandising stuff is anathema, I was surprisingly touched to receive this little velvet pink ribbon badge in the post this morning.

    The pink ribbon as a symbol for breast cancer awareness is now 25 years old, and the various charities are marking this anniversary - rightly, because the money they raise for support and research makes a huge difference.

    The letter that came with my badge said:

    "Please find enclosed a pin for you, in recognition of all that you do as a breast cancer care volunteer.  We are honoured to invite you to join us as we wear it in hope, in stength and in unity.'

    As a peer support volunteer, I have the privilege of speaking with women as they negotiate the terrors of diagnosis, the complexities of treatment and the challenges of life after cancer.  This week I spoke to a one who was debating whether or not to take Tamoxifen, another who had developed lymphoedema several years after treatment, and a third who is a longer term 'client' with whom I'm journeying through her treatment - all of this is a huge privilege, and helps me to make sense of my own experience.

    For the last couple of years, I've been a patient rep on a research group, able to have quite a lot of input to some work on supporting people affected by 'chemobrain'; I was even asked to chair a day conference for medical professionals, patients, carers and third sector organisations.

    As well as actively completing the Ben Nevis challege and two Pink Ribbon walks myself, raising thousands of pounds along the way, I've also been a volunteer steward at the annual fashion Show, a marshall for a Pink Ribbon walk and made tea and washed up at a couple of Glasgow-wide fundraisers!!

    In listing this, I realise it sounds like I'm blowing my own trumpet, which isn't the intent, rather I'm just trying to celebrate the diversity of opportunities I have enjoyed, the friends I've made, the fun I've had, and the privileges I've been granted.

    So I will wear my pink, fluffy, blingy badge with pride, not because of what I've done, but because it's a great cause and deserves to flourish.


    PS Don't you think that hope, strength and unity are brilliant values?!