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  • Reflections on a Weekend in 'Not Lancaster'

    It was planned a long time ago - a short break to draw breath before Lent.  An apartment in Lancaster, and the promise of meet-ups with friends.  It was not to be - a week ago I was contacted to say someone I had spent time with, face-to-face, in a cafe, had tested positive for Covid.  I checked the rules (for Scotland) which which said that as long as I tested negative I could go - but what if I tested positive once I got there?  I decided this was risk not worth taking, so cancelled the trip, losing my money, as it seems the Covid cancellation clauses have all been revoked (fair enough but disappointing).  Despite developing some symptoms which prompted me to get a PCR test, I have tested negative every day, so, as it turns out, I could have gone.  But I still think it was the right call.

    So, a weekend in Glasgow - and general avoidance of people other than a quick food shopping trip and a coffee in a nearly empty cafe on Saturday.

    The mural above is in an jitty/ginnnel/alley/land/back/entry near St George's Cross.  I found it when I chose to 'follow my nose' rather than my familiar route.  I love the vibrant colours and the sense of hope it carries - especially tucked away in a place few will ever see it.

    It would have been good to get away, and good to catch up with two sets of friends, but it wasn't to be.  As I reflect on world events, I gain valuable perspective - I might not be packing a case to come home from a weekend away, but at least I am not choosing what to pack as I flee for my very life... 

    Hope is like spring flowers and butterflies painted on a wall in a dingy jitty. 

  • Online Word Games

    First it was Wordle.  Then came Byrdle (choir and musicians version) Bardle (Shakespeare) and Prayerdle (Bible/prayer).  Whilst I never post my coloured squares online, most days I solve all four of these, and am left with four words.  My own extra game is to arrange them in to a sentence or rhyme - surprisingly this often works out, and is a bit of harmless fun.

    I also sometimes play Quordle (four words to solve simultaneously) Nerdle (a number puzzle) and even Absurdle (a bit of extra jeopardy as it changes the word after each guess (must be a clever algorithm as correct letters are retained))

    It's a phase, a bit like sudoku a few years back, or baking banana bread and quizzes on Zoom during lockdown.  But it's fun for a few minutes of 'downtime' each day.

  • Kyrie Eleison

    We hear the news about the Ukraine and we are dumb-struck (or I am anyway).

    What on earth do we pray?  Lots of wiser people than I, like archbishops and denominational leaders, are offering forms of words, and they help a bit.

    But I want to name and note the sense of helplessness and the uncomfortable truth that however hard I pray, events continue to unfold.


    I pray for the people of Ukraine - Lord have mercy

    I pray for the people of Russia - Lord have mercy

    I pray for leaders of powerful western nations - Lord have mercy

    I pray for people of peace and goodwill everywhere, lost for words, and powerless to act - Lord have mercy


    To be clear 'Lord have mercy' is my prayer - Kyrie Eleison - may God have mercy on all people, may God's Christ redeem all things, may God's Sophia Wisdom bring peace, wisdom and order amidst the chaos.


    Kyrie Eleison

    Christe Eleison

    Kyrie Eleison


  • Remembering

    Today would have been my parents' diamond wedding anniversary.  I am not sure quite why this thought struck me yesterday, but it did.

    This photo was taken at my brother's wedding in 1985, and is one of the few I have with the two of them together. 

    There were never any photos of their wedding, which took place on a Friday in a London registry office, so far as I can recall accompanied only by their witnesses, Terry and Julie, the latter apparently inspiring my third name.

    Theirs was no idyllic marriage, but they brought up their children to the very best of their ability: I always knew they loved me, and that they wanted the best for me, which is really all anyone can ask. 

    My Mum was widowed as long as she was married, and missed my Dad all that time.  They stuck together for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health until they were parted by death - that in itself is worth recalling.

    Thank you Mum and Dad for giving me the gift of life, for the ways that you shaped my thinking and being, and for the memories that surprise and delight me in their recollection.


  • Endings...

    This week has been characterised by no less than three endings... two following deaths of people I have known for many years, and one the end of a professional relationship.

    Tuesday was the 'direct cremation' or 'cremation without ceremony' of someone I have know almost a decade.  This was their wish, and it was honoured.  It left others in a community of which we were part feeling the need for some kind of ritual - which we found in synchronised candle lighting.

    Tuesday was also the day on which my Spiritual Director and I reached a 'parting of the ways' after a couple of years.  It had been good and helpful for a season but was no longer fruitful - it was time to move on, which we did, praying for one another as we parted.

    Thursday was the funeral of a long-standing, if not close, friend, that took place in a rural chapel hundred of miles away, yet to which I was able to attend via Zoom.  In the context of Christian worship, and in rhythmic ritual I know, understand and cherish, this felt like a good ending.

    Three endings in a week is quite a lot.  Three very different endings gives me much to ponder.

    Sometimes endings will be carefully planned and sometimes they catch us unawares.  Some I will exercise some control, others I won't.  Some will satisfy my desires and meet my needs, others will not.

    This week I find myself more than ever convinced of the importance of ritual in marking significant life events.  On Tuesday that need was met in the lighting of candles, on Thursday in the familiar patterns of scripture, story, song and prayer.  It's not true that to  one is inherently better, and I am glad people no longer feel pressured into religious ceremonies where none is desired.  However, I think in a post religious age, there is as great a need as ever for appropriate rituals to mark significant endings.

    Having a pre-paid funeral plan, and having recorded some desires, I hope that when my time eventually comes both that those making arrangements can be assured they have honoured my wishes, and that their needs have also been considered and provided for.