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- Page 5

  • Students' Welcome Tea

    Today at the Gathering Place we had an amazing welcome afternoon tea for new and returning students...

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    Everyone seemed to have a good time and all I had to do was turn up and chat (which was quite work enough at the moment).

    There were students seeking churches, students just happy to meet new people, students bring their friends... and people of all ages from church to give them a great welcome.

    We launched oursleves as home-base for Glasgow Uni SCM and encouraged the overseas students to set up their own midweek group using our premises.

    A great afternoon all round.

    Photos courtesy Ken Fisher (and hope you spot me quicker than I did - this new look is confusing!!) and massive thanks to the Gatherers for a great job jobbed.

  • Fairtrade Headscarves?

    So, here's a challenge - find a fairtrade cotton headscarf that is at least 70cm by 70 cm (approx 27" square), the minimum size recommended for 'necessity wearers'.

    You can get Fairtrade certified fashion bandannas/head scarves that are 50 cm square.

    You can get larger ones that are not.

    I have found one supplier, as it happens in Glasgow, who claims hers are but does not dispaly the logo, so are they really?

    I could get a fairtrade cotton hijab....!

    I have, based on advice received, somewhere between 2 and 4 weeks to resolve this challenge (by which time I will have been supplied with a wig and some head coverings courtesy of the NHS) but it seems a shame that I can't so readily source genuine fairtrade head scarves that are suitable.  Anyone any ideas?

  • Angels, Weird Lights and a Fox

    I feel I need to preface this by saying that the NHS is essentially full of great people, but I do feel that over the last few weeks my path specifically has been crossed by many angels - bringers of grace and hope - in the shape of doctors, technicians and nurses.  Today I met the chemotherpay nurse who will oversee my treatments, a lovely young woman who I discovered is a Roman Catholic with a little boy of four.  Combining attention to detail, clinical skill and a friendly personality, she rapidly put me at ease and made the whole process remarkably easy.  Praise God for people like D.

    In the treatment area are ranks of coloured lights at ceiling level which change colour from purple to red to orange & yellow to green and so on.  They are evidently meant to be calming.  For me they served as a reminder of the busy thoroughfare that is central Leicester where illuminated poles follow the same colour sequence at the same speed.... weird!

    And a fox.  Leaving the hospital to walk home (feeling remarkably like a fraud that I could do this quite happily) I spotted a fox running across my path.  Unabashed, it selected a comfy spot in the flower border, turned round dog-like and settled down to sit in the sun, enjoying the adulation of its audience.  Beautiful and mysterious, the urban fox bringing joy to delight my soul.

  • For Such a Time as This?

    Yesterday's Bible Study in Esther centred on the well-known and well-loved verse 'for such a time as this' and followed the idea of being a person in the right place at the right time, specifically to speak out for a persecuted (or oppressed or marginalised) group.  We had some interesting conversations.

    But how about the right place for the right person?  Was it for such a time as this that God brought/led/called/sent me to Glasgow?  Not just for what I can do/be but for what I need?  To be a mere 10 minute walk from one of the most advanced cancer hospitals in Europe, to have in my congregation an internationally respected oncologist and at least two retired nurses with experience in caring for people with cancer... Like the Esther story it's not that this is the only way God could have managed this (Mordecai essentially said to Esther that if she don't act something else would come from heaven, i.e. God would find another way), nor is it that somehow God had it all pre-planned, just that somehow this is part of the rightness of fit for this person in this place at this time.  Not sure I quite have the right theological language or framework to work this out, but perhaps I'll stick with Mordecai's provisionality as recorded in scripture, that maybe it was for such a time as this...


  • Walking on Sunshine...

    A long, long time ago we had a corporate team-building day thingy which took the form of 'It's a Knockout'.  My team, named by my staff 'Catriona and the Slaves' came a very creditable fourth and of course the organisers played the above song every time they mentioned us.  That has zippo to do with my thoughts, but reflects the general mush of my brain at the moment.

    Today has felt like walking on sunshine - the first day since my diagnosis when I have not felt scared.  I went for a picnic in the park, and when no one was around to see went into the hall at church and spun myself round til I was dizzy, in the way a child does, just for the joy of being alive.

    I don't think I'd ever really known proper fear until the last few weeks.  There are plenty of things I'm afraid of, notably edges of train platforms, live electrics and drowning (hopefully not all at once) but these risks remain readily avoidable.  The last few weeks have seen real fear: the 'what if' of waiting for test results, the overactive imagination that overules commonsense and deduces that 2+2 = 38.

    It's not that anything suddenly changed, except that now I have the information (all bar the original definitely good) and I no longer fear what I do not know.  That doesn't mean I won't get scared again, it just means for now I am not.

    All of which made me wonder how life must be for those who live in permanent fear.  Never able to sleep properly, never able to relax, never able to spin round til they are dizzy for the fun of it.

    There are too many twee little Christian ditties about Jesus taking our fears away, and they deny the reality of his own agonised hours in Gethsemane and at Calvary.  On Sunday we will be singing the golden oldie 'Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness' which contains these two lines...


    "... mornings of joy give for evenings of tearfulness

    trust for our trembling and hope for our fear"


    This seems neither to deny the reality of fear nor to suggest it is easily evaporated, rather it speaks of hope despite, in or through it.


    Tomorrow I begin a metaphorical uphill climb that will last until the end of December, assuming I manage to keep on schedule, with half a dozen stiles or gates or bends (I'm not sure which they are yet) along the way. I may well get scared again.  For now, though, I enjoy the gift of this day, walk on the sunshine, dance in my own living room (at least metaphorically) and give thanks to God for the beauty of this pause on my 'long distance footpath'