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  • Summit!

    mt chemo.jpgOne flag designed by me!

    Summit reached circa 1 p.m. today.

    I dunnit.  You helped.  Interweb supplied free clipart.

  • The Final Bend!

    In a couple of hours time I head off to the hospital for my final dose of neoadjuvant chemo - hurrah!  I am feeling slightly demob happy this morning even though it's all really rather serious stuff and there are still three weeks of being good ahead of me - the summit of mount chemo is a long plateau not a peak.

    As with real walks that involve long hill climbs, I am feeling the exertion and am quite tired, probably exacerbated by the fact that having finished work there is no need to be lively.  But, also like real walks, when I know I'm on the last bit, at least of this stage, I find inner reserves to yomp to the finish line (a real pain for those I walk whose internal-psychology works differently).

    I have a box of fancy biccies to replenish the patients' supplies and some posh chocs (well as posh as Waitrose sell!) for the nurses who have been so wonderful, especially D, P and W who have overseen my treatment directly.

    Whilst it will be a bit strange not having to go there every three weeks, I can't say I'll miss it!  No more oncologist appointments until after surgery so a bit of a break in prospect.

    So, by the end of today I will - barring last minute disasters (once a risk assessor always a risk assessor) - I will be on top of mount chemo... all of which sounds like a cue for a song:


    On top of Mount Chemo

    (I still can't eat cheese)

    My tumour's much smaller

    Th'oncologist's pleased.


    The last set of steroids

    That disrupt my sleep

    And miscellaneous tablets

    To help keep me fit


    Farewell to the blood tests -

    At least for a while.

    And no more hill-climbing

    With puddles and stiles!


    Now it's on to the forest

    So dark and so deep

    But not for a few weeks

    Til this phase is complete


    So thank you Creator

    And thank you my friends

    For climbing it with me

    Around all the bends


    And as I move forward

    To places still new

    I know that, together,

    We'll see this thing through.


    My poetry's lousy

    The rhymes are contrived

    But I got up Mount Chemo

    And more than survived!


  • My End of Year Blog Awards!

    The end of the year is a time when people give away awards for various things, so here are my blog awards for 2010 - not to be taken too seriously!

    Best New Blog: Thinking Mission which does what is says on the tin at many levels.  A thoughtful and thought provoking blog which I have enjoyed greatly.

    Best Redivivus Blog: Beaker Folk of Husbourne Crawley which makes me laugh, makes me think and confuses some of my friends!

    Best Blog by a Spice: Tracing Rainbows which combines everyday life, recipes, craft ideas and good humour.  Also almost as plethoric a blogger as me!

    Best Prolific Blogger: Living Wittily quite how Jim finds the time to read so widely and reflect so effectively quite so early and quite so often is beyond my ken!

    No trophies, no cheques, no marching bands, no razz-a-matazz just thank you (and all the other bloggers whose stuff I read) for keeping me entertained and making me continue to think.

  • Well Worth Reading...

    ... the latest BMS Mission Catalyst which focusses on the complicated issue of living in multi-cultural societies and working out how best to relate to local culture especially when it involves the festivals and celebrations of other faiths.  There was a time when 'barge pole' and 'don't touch' would have been all that was said, but here we have an interesting, well thought out 'magazine' with some helpful theology on alternative attitudes to other faiths.

    Many years ago one of the set books for my theology training was Anton Wessels Europe: Was it Ever Really Christian? Not the snappiest title or the most fun read ever, but it showed how much accommodation, inculturation and even pretty much syncretism had gone on over the centuries.  It ceertainly influenced my thinking.

    I grow ever more impressed with the courageous direction BMS is taking in its publications and speaking, making us actually face and engage with the world as it really is.  And I'm pleased to see how BUGB is also starting to engage more creatively in this complex area, with the e-news sweep alerting us to the festivals our neighbours will be celebrating throughout the year.

    (Oh, if you want to know my heresies on this one I'm an inclusivst with a fulfilment theology... and if that means nothing to you then you'd better read Mission Catalyst)

  • The Year that Was

    When 2010 dawned there was no way I would have anticipated it would turn out as it did.  Like most people I had plans of what I intended to do with the year and although I knew they wouldn't all come to fruition and that some unexpected, even unwelcome, events would occur, I pretty much expected a 'quiet' year in which things just plodded along.  Certainly 2010 has been a busy year, and one with some great moments along the way, and it seems right to pause to reflect on a few of the things that have stood out - for good or ill - along the way.

    IMG_0621.JPGThe external event that had the biggest single impact on my year was the news of the death of 24 year old Fay Martin, the BMS worker out in Afghanistan.  The 'thank you card' she sent me the Christmas after her visit to Dibley and the rather crumpled photo of the 2003/4 BMS Uganda Action team taken at Dibley (with the then Midlands BMS co-ordinator) are in my minister's 'treasure box.'  It took a long time to deal with the guilt I felt at having encouraged her to explore God's call on her life, a call that led to her dying so far from home.

    The spring months saw me studying with the Scottish Baptist College on their Practice Mentor course - and securing the highest marks I've ever managed for a theology essay.  I guess as a thrice qualified mentor I jolly well ought to have managed this, but it was good none-the-less.  It would be good to say my research work had done as well but for all manner of reasons it didn't - but hopefully early in 2011 I will get to submit for an MPhil adding another set of letters to my collection.  Maybe one day I will get round to the doctorate - time will tell.

    024.JPGI could wax lyrical for a very long time about church life and bore the pants of anyone daft enough to read my thoughts.  Welcoming new people into formal membership, blessing a baby, leading Lent studies and Advent reflections, watching the Coffee Club flourish, initiating the daytime Bible Study group and the monthly Theological Reflection group, starting to integrate Sunday School themes with preaching plans and going into Sunday School, increasing the number of All Age services... not a bad year's work really!  And all that in addition participating in the existing diverse activities of the church.  The real bonus has been the embryonic work with students that has lowered our average age substantially, increased the number of non-white faces on a Sunday, and energised folk just at a time when things suddenly took a wobble.

    IMG_0845.JPGThe last four months of the year have been very much an unchosen adventure, yet one that has had its lighter moments and it's glimpses of grace.  The climb at Mount Chemo is almost complete - barring disasters the last dose will on 31st December containing this phase of treatment within 2010.  I have learned all manner of things about cancer, chemotherapy, hair growth cycles and the workings of the NHS!  I have discovered good websites and bad.  I have met some lovely people I wouldn't have done otherwise.  I have also learned what it is to be terrified, to wonder 'what if' and to be (reasonably) gracious with the good intentions of people who don't get 'it' or me.  I still have lots of questions about the balance between collusion in the myth of 'happy Christian' and the pastoral responsibilities of being 'honest Christian' (minister or not) which probably won't ever find satisfactory answers.  For me, Mt Chemo has not been too bad and I've been able to continue work pretty much as usual (well, usual at a scant half workload) for which I am very grateful.  The support of church folk, friends and the wider Christian (and not) netowrks has been amazing.  A long way still to go in 2011 - and treatment-wise the bits that really scare me still to come - but this 'new normal' is 'ok'.  (The photo was taken about two weeks ago after I shaved off the last of the "tenacious telegen hairs" that had refused to fall out.  At time of typing I have some 'designer stubble' new growth which may or may not withstand the drugs on Friday; ironically as the stubble began to grow on my head, the last of my eyelashes fell out...)

    Lots of other stuff in between, but this post is way too long already.  2010 has seen more extremes than most years, and a fair bit of stuff that never made it in to the public domain that is a blog, but it's a year that still has more to celebrate than to lament.  For what is past, praise God; for what will be, may God be my guide and companion.