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  • A Mish Mash

    Combine hot weather and endless hot flushes and my brain is turning to mush once more.  So this is a bit of a mish mash of stuff.

    This week Richard Madeley is sitting in for Chris Evans on Radio 2.  I don't mind this, though I prefer Chris and his gang any day.  However, today there was a 'text in' on "my worst ever birthday" that made me want to take a few people by the shoulders and give them a good shaking!  For the most part the bad birthdays were things like 'didn't get what I wanted' or 'had to organise my own party' or 'saw my dress in a charity shop' (that was Judy's worst ever birthday apparently).  For goodness sake, people, grow up!  If you have no more to worry about than that, then be grateful.

    Contrast today's PAYG which focused on the well loved words of Jesus, 'come to me all you who are heavy laden...'  I recalled preaching on this some three years back, when my then church was having a very tough time.  Jesus does not promise us a burden free existence; a beach holiday was the analogy that PAYG used to describe what is not offered.  What Jesus promises is a non-chaffing yoke and a light burden, one that is within our capability to carry.  If that's so, then some people I know must be very strong to carry the burdens they do as being 'light'.  And yet... my new thought for today... I have often marvelled at how, when two people each take a handle of heavy shopping bag neither finds it especially heavy.  Maybe a better contemporary illustration isn't either an ox yoke or a milk-maid's yoke (which I have heard people say Jesus meant!!!) but a shopping bag:

    'Let me take one handle of your shopping bag,' says Jesus, 'and the load won't feel so heavy, your hands won't be rubbed red raw, and you'll have someone to chat to as you travel along'

    If it is your birthday or a big day, I hope it's a good one for you.

    If you are carrying heavy loads, I hope you find someone to take a handle and lighten them a little.

    If you are having a really tough time, I pray that somehow God will come alongside you and give you peace, rest and hope.

    Now, back to trying to compose a sermonette for Sunday!

  • Middled-aged Texting

    Today I received by email the BUS mailing to ministers and the one from the Ministers' Wives' Fellowship to 'pass on as appropriate'.  As, strangely enough, I don't have a minister's wife to pass it on to, I thought I'd share with you all the humour bit of the offering, text abbreviations for those of a certain age:

    ATD - at the doctor.
    BFF - best friend fell.
    BTW - bring the wheelchair.
    BYOT - bring your own teeth.
    FWIW -forgot where I was.
    GGPBL - gotta go, pacemaker battery low.
    GHA - got heartburn again.
    IMHO - is my hearing aid on?
    LMDO -laughing my dentures out.
    OMMR - on my massage recliner.
    ROFLACGU - rolling on floor laughing and can't get up.
    TTYL -talk to you louder!

    Not sure if Connexion has a 'funny' slot but this would surely go down well with their folk (ministers' spouses) too.

  • Graduation Day

    I had a text from my bestest minister friend this morning, saying that she was in Manchester, the sun was shining and she was just about to collect her doctoral robes for her graduation.  The text was to thank me for support along the way... you know, the nothing we all just do kind of stuff.  I was chuffed to know that today is her celebration day... and perversely amused to realise that even if I'd submitted my MPhil thesis in time to graduate with her I couldn't have attended, as today was my last oncology appointment - a different kind of graduation.

    It was a bit weird sitting in the waiting room knowing this was my last appointment when other people were there for the first time.  Looking around, there was the person with a gaunt face dreading what would be said to her.  Another woman clutched in one hand the fact sheet for her chemo regime and, with her friend, rehearsed the questions she wanted to ask (wise).  Three more, mid-treatment compared side effects (not sure how that made the newbies feel).  Yet another, with a gorgeous headscarf covering her sparse hair, sat quietly reading.  And me, at the end, waiting to 'graduate.'

    A quick appointment with a bright young registrar (the never there consultant was never there!) whose comments answered a question I'd never quite formulated right at the start of the whole process, and then answered the two I had for her.  And that was it, out into the sunshine, passing the brave and the anxious, the resigned and the angry, the therapeutic and maybe the palliative. the beginners and the enders on my way.

    Felt kind of weird - part of me was happy but part of me was all too aware of friends who will never be able to be graduate from oncology - some with bc, some with other cancers - or from the clinics that manage their many and varied chronic conditions.

    My bestest friend and I send each other metaphorical dandelions and thistledown, up and down the country, our sign of God's spirit at work, blowing where she will, dancing and disturbing.  I hope that today some of that thistledown and some of those dandelion seeds landed on people who need hope and encouragement.

    Congratulations Revd Dr D, and every blessing on those sitting in outpatient clinics waiting and wondering...

  • The Importance of Context

    Week 3 of our series 'stories Jesus told' has the loose anchor 'about animals'.  In the end I went for two nearly identical parables - Luke's lost sheep and Matthew's straying sheep.  After we've done some stuff 'all together' we will be taking a look at one of them (not saying which just yet, though I have decided) in its broader, textual context and wondering a little about why it is located here and if so how we should read it.

    The importance of context.  Rocket science it isn't.  Original it's not.  But a useful reminder and some groundwork for stuff coming later this year, I hope it will be.

  • Fight, Flight, Freeze

    A few years ago I recall seeing a documentary type thingy on television about the 'fight or flight' reflex, which postulated that there are actually three responses - 'fight, flight, freeze'.  The programme said that we can't control the way our reflexes work, but that knowing how they work we can then choose the 'what next.'

    Last week a 'thank you' card arrived through my letterbox.  It was from someone I encountered whilst on holiday and had helped in her moment of need (she had broken her ankle at the top of a mountain, since you're all wondering).  The card commented on how I had known what to do and had quietly taken charge until help arrived in a way that made them feel safe.  My gut reaction is 'I just did what anyone would do...'  I have had first aid training in the past and as I saw her fall and scream, just found my feet carrying me in her direction, and my voice shouting 'don't move her.'  It was all instinctive.  There was nothing especially significant in what I did (indeed, had something not prompted me to make this post I wouldn't have mentioned it) it was just what 'one does.'

    Over the last few months I have learned more about the fight/flight/freeze reflex in myself and in others.  I have discovered some of my closest friends paralysed as I told them my news, whilst relative (and total) strangers have found their metaphorical feet propelling them towards me, voices shouting 'it's alright...'  I have found that some people have fled, because their instincts carry them far away, as others have joined the 'walk in the dark.'  It is, it seems, just the way they are wired, and perhaps they haven't always known how to manage their instincts.

    I think I am fortunate to have the 'fight' reflex, the one that allows me to walk in and calmly do what's needed (just how many times have people said 'does nothing phase you?' (yes, plenty of things, but usually it's afterwards)), the one that has enabled me to go through my treatment with a smile on my face (at least most of the time).  I also think I (and we) have a responsibility to know myself (ourselves) and 'manage' my (our) reactions to others' situations. 

    A lot of the folk I've met this year, whether in the flesh or online say they are not doing or being anything special in their dealings with disease or disaster.  I don't think they are being cheesy or falsely modest, I have a feeling that they too have the 'fight' reflex.  They are just getting on with it, being who they are.  Maybe people who are differently wired find 'fighters' inspirational, and maybe I (or we) need to learn how to relate to 'flee-ers' and 'freezers' in a way that is healthy for us all?

    I wonder what your reflex is?  Does it vary with context?  How can you manage it in a way that is healthy for you and helpful for those you love?

    PS, how should I spell flee-er?  Fleeer maybe?!