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- Page 8

  • China Cups

    All went extremely well with my consultant today, which was great.

    I arrived early and bought a sandwich and a cup of tea at the volunteer run tea bar (it's not a WRVS one but it's similar).  In the midst of a very unlovely waiting area, tea is served in china cups and saucers (coffee in pottery ones!) and sandwiches are taken out of their packets, cut into quarters and served on a china plates.

    You don't get that in a state of the art place.

    My thing of beauty for today - a china cup in a hospital waiting room.

  • A Week in Prospect... A Prospect in Mind

    Kind of an odd week ahead...

    Today I have an appointment with the surgeon to begin to talk about the when and what of the therapeutic aspects of surgery.  On Friday I meet a plastic surgeon to talk about the more cosmetic aspects.

    It all feel rather weird, as surgery is still some months off - hopefully late January - and actually rather unreal.  I'm not really sure how I am meant to feel about it either... I'm partly curious, partly terrified and partly almost excited.  How weird is that?!

    Lots to think about, and lots of OPEs to negotiate en route.

    The most important part, obviously, is the therapeutic surgery, and until that is undertaken any plastics options remain provisional... there will be an element of unknowing right up until the process is done.  I am OK with that, at least intellectually. 

    It is the plastics aspect that seems to demand more attention in my thinking, not least as the odd person has felt very free to tell me precisely why it should not happen!

    To be told on the same day as my diagnosis that simultaneous reconstructive surgery ought to be possible felt like a gift of grace... that despite all I would still look 'normal' at the end of this.  Of course that raises questions about 'normal' and 'self esteem' and their relationship, but in that moment it was a ray of hope.

    I don't think my self-esteem depends on my appearance not just because I'm not a 'girlie girl' but because I am generally 'OK' with myself as I am.  If they can't reconstruct that's OK, disappointing, but not a reason to think less of myself.  So is it mere vanity?  I don't think so.  Not everyone I know agrees.

    The Bible tells us we are made in the image and likeness of God... and we tend to equate that with the body beautiful, ever youthful, fully functional.  Which is a shame because Jesus, the resurrected Jesus, carries the scars of a brutal beating, thorns piercing his face, nails through his wrists and ankles, a sword plunged into his chest.  A surgically altered Catriona will still bear God's image - with or without the cosmetic aspects.

    The deeper I ponder, the more I am sure that the God who made me wants the very best for me - which in this case includes the possibility of plastic surgery.  Whether the surgery leaves me an "unwilling Amazon" or looking relatively 'normal' won't alter how God sees me, won't alter who I really am.  What matters in the meantime is that I listen carefully to the professionals and follow the path that I judge right for me whilst being gracious to those who cannot, or will not, understand.


  • Speaking about Faith

    Way back when, in the days when I was learning to be a minister, all our academic modules had weird and wonderful course codes, each of which related to a 'thread' that attempted in ordinary everyday English to describe what it was.  So, for example, systematics and dogmatics came under the heading of "Handling Christian Traditions" HCT, pastoral theology was "Believing, Caring and Social Responsibility" BSCR, Biblical studies was "Jewish and Christian Documents" JCD and so on.  Apologetics. along with a few bits of philosophy and, I think, the interfaith stuff, came under the heading of "Speaking About Faith" SAF.  All of which is long way of getting to the point that yesterday evening our focus was apologetics, based on a chapter from Alastair McGrath's book Mere Theology.

    We ably were led in three short reflections and three short small-group exercises that helped us think afresh about theology and apologetics in plain language - this was what William Barclay (don't think a Sassenach is entitled to use the more affectionate "Willie" as my friends here do) might have called "theology for the plain man" or perhaps "ordinary theology" (Jeff Astley) or the "let's do" brand of theology (Laurie Green).

    The one that stuck out for me was the middle one and a story about Adrian Plass who it seems as teenagers was something of a smart alec who liked nothing better than engaging in taunting the priest who ran the local youth club.  Week by week he would ask the priest questions about God; week by week given answers, Plass would argue and ridicule; week by week the priest was gracious... until one day he snapped and responded by saying of Jesus, "I love him, I just do."  Speaking of faith isn't about having the right answers, isn't about understanding, isn't even about being certain, it's about our own experience of the mystery and wonder of that faith.

    We thought briefly about the old practice (less rare up here it has to said) of testimony sharing, and how you could end up feeling pretty pathetic if you hadn't been saved from a life of debauchery but had simply drifted into faith in the same way you'd drifted from infancy to childhood and beyond.  At various times in various churches (and other contexts) I have led or shared exercises where people are invited to chart their faith story, and when I've done so I've always stressed that it doesn't end at the 'decision' or in the baptistery.  The God "moments" are not just big things, they can be tiny.  I think one happened last night when I heard about the priest pushed to breaking point who said "I just do, alright."  Too often I have tended to pussy foot around in debates either avoiding conflict or trying to defend something I can't do adequately.  To be freed to say "I just do" believe, not to have to explain why or how, and that that is good enough is incredibly liberating.  Probably wouldn't earn you a very good mark in SAF3c (or whatever it was) but God would be fine with it.

  • Bible Inspired Living

    Church was great again today... I am so privileged to be where I am doing what I'm doing.  Lot's of lovely comments about my service and lots of new faces once again... life is good, God is great.

    Three words really at the heart of what today was about, three characteristics that emanate from God and inform our relating to God, to creation, to others, to ourselves...




    If, as John 3:16 tells us, God loved the cosmos so much God's Son entered the cosmos to save the cosmos, what does that tell us about God and about our response?

    It forces us to care about the whole of creation

    It forces us to care about all other people

    It forces us to care about ourselves


    The two 'Great Coomandments' fit with this too...

    Love God with every ounce of your existence

    Love the people with whom you share the planet

    Love yourself the way you love others


    All this blows my brain but it's what it means to live in the light of Bible.


    God never stops loving all that God has made

    God never stops hoping that the Kingdom will be fulfilled

    God never stops 'faithing' that God's will be done.

    Thank God for such a God!

  • Movember

    A bit slow on the uptake here...

    October was breast cancer awareness month, November is prostate cancer awareness month.  We probably all know someone with this invisible, silent killer of men though they may not tell us.  I certainly know a few now and have known a few in the past.

    Movember is a slightly quirky thing to grow a moustache for a month (Google the word you'll find our more) in aid of the charity and to raise awareness.

    One of the things for men having chemo is loss of their facial hair, which if they are bearded or moustachioed must be very hard to deal with.  We think of the psychological impact on women of hair loss but not that on men.  To be able to choose to be clean shaven or not is something most people will never think about unless/until that choice is taken away from them.

    I have to confess I'm not a beard/moustache fan but I'm glad that people are taking up this challenge, if only for 30 days...