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  • Survivor Guilt Guilt

    Yes, I did mean to type 'guilt' twice.

    As I already posted, I had a great time at the Tall Ships, wandering around, listening to a brass quintet, admiring birds of prey, chuckling at the antics of entertainers, smiling at excited children, smelling the salty air, slowly melting in the sun...

    Then I had an attack of survivor guilt as I found myself thinking of people I knew/know who would have loved it but who couldn't have gone either because they have left this world or becuase their illness or disability makes it impossible.

    And then I felt guilty because I felt guilty and I knew that these specific people would delight in my enjoyment, just as I do in that of others who do things I can't do any more.

    Not planning to beat myself up over this, just noting the reality.


  • Tall Ships and a Star... {Part Deux}

    Not sure why the curly brackets, it was a typing slip but it looked good so I left it in.

    Had a great time at the Tall Ships which was brilliantly organised.  Extra-long trains had been laid on from Glasgow (though you had to be in the front five coaches cos the platfrom at Bogston is short!) and as soon as you got off the train people were on hand to direct you towards the event.  A pedestrian route with police acting as crossing-wardens ensured swift progress to the event.  The sun was shining and it was hot when I arrived - so very glad of my sun hat and factor 50.

    I joined dozens of other people sitting in the middle of a traffic roundabout for my picnic - how often do you get the opportunity to do that - before wandering along admiring the ships.  I opted not to tour any of them - they were very crowded - but enjoyed the atmosphere and some of the entertainment on offer.

    So, a few photos:



    This one gives a general hint of what it was like to see so many sialing vessels moored in one place.





    This one, T S Royalist, belongs to the sea cadets and both of my brothers sailed on her in the late 1970s






    This one is a reminder of the international nature of the event and the fact that people may want to enter the UK without proper papers.






    This one just because I like cranes.  I know, it's weird... 








     And a star or two... a post from Annie via Chez that is well worth a look see



  • A Tall Ship and a Star...

    My day off, the sun is shining and there are no boring tasks to be accomplished.  So I am off to catch a train to a place with the delightful name (not) of Bogston to see the tall ships which are gathered near Greenock for a series of races and the like.  I will probably post some pics later but in the meantime, a bit of John Masefield from my childhood:

    I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

    I am told it is an 'end of life' poem, a man looking back and yearning for what can never again be.  So quite why we were taught it at the age of six or seven is beyond me!  In my mind it will always be a poem of intention, of forward looking desire rather than one of bittersweet remembrance.  Maybe it's a bit like a parable - it can be read and heard many ways?

    Anyway, if I don't stop I'll be here all day and not see the ships!  More later.

  • Better than a Hallelujah

    I heard this song by Amy Grant on Aled Jones' Good Morning Sunday and it seemed to strike a chord:

    God loves a lullaby
    In a mothers tears in the dead of night
    Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
    God loves a drunkards cry,
    The soldiers plea not to let him die
    Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

    We pour out our miseries
    God just hears a melody
    Beautiful the mess we are
    The honest cries are breaking hard
    Are better than a Hallelujah

    The woman holding on for life,
    The dying man giving up the fight
    Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
    The tears of shame for what's been done,
    The silence when the words won't come
    Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

    We pour out our miseries
    God just hears a melody
    Beautiful the mess we are
    The honest cries are breaking hard
    Are better than a Hallelujah

    Better than a church bell ringing,
    Better than a choir singing out,singing out.

    We pour out our miseries
    God just hears a melody
    Beautiful the mess we are
    The honest cries of breaking hearts
    Are better than a Hallelujah

    Another plea for authenticity in worship methinks.

    You can hear it here

  • Laments and Rants

    Way back when, in the days when I was a lousy violinist, I had a book of Scottish fiddle tunes (J Scott Skinner I seem to recall) in which many of the tunes were entitled 'MacThingy's Lament or Rant.'  Tomorrow in our evening service we are using Walter Brueggemann's 'Psalms of Disorientation'  as the framework for a quiet - and maybe slightly intense - act of worship.  Lamenting and ranting, as commonly understood, seem to go pretty much together.  The disorientation psalms express regret and remorse (by people and by God) and also some pretty serious, even scary, rants.  It is good to be reminded there is a place for both in worship.

    Whilst on holiday I picked up a CD called 'The Last Journey' the title track of which is a hymn I love very much.  However, it is one of the other tracks I want to share today, which has the feel of a disorientation psalm:

    All the fears I need to name but am too scared to say;
    all the shame for what I've done which nothing can allay:
    all the people I've let down and lost along the way;
    all the hate I still remand:

    Must these torment me to the end of time?  Who is there to understand?

    All the wasted years in which I struggled to be free;
    all the broken promises that took their toll on me;
    all the love I should have shown and all I failed to be;
    all I longed to take my hand:

    Must these torment me to the end of time? Who is there to understand?

    What the cause of pain is and, much more, the reason why;
    what my final hour will bring, how suddenly I'll die;
    what the future holds for those I'll miss, for whom I cry;
    what, too late, I might demand:

    Must these torment me to the end of time?  Who is there to understand?

    'All the wrong you now admit, I promise to forgive;
    all that you regret, you are not sentenced to relive;
    all the love you've never known is mine alone to give;
    you, my child are understood.'

    So do not fear all that is yet to be, heaven is close and God is good.

    John L Bell (born 1949) and Graham A Maule (born 1958)© WGRG, Iona Community

    A version of this is in HymnQuest and it is published in a book called When Grief is Raw

    Hope someone finds this helpful in some way.