It has been a lovely day today. A couple of meetings this morning, one involving decent coffee, the other peppermint tea, then a quick flip round the supermarket to get bits I need for Sunday's all age bit and home to protoype. All looking good, that's all I'm saying for now.
Illiteracy affects more than 120 million young people globally, compounding the disadvantages they face
Give 20p for each favourite childhood book you can still recall well.
Youch! That's an expensive one. How 'well' is 'well' I wonder?
OK, cunning plan - post live, allow myself two minutes (timed) to type names of books I loved as a child...
The Secret Garden
A Little Princess
What Katy Did/Did next
Anne of Green Gables
Malory Towers series (6)
St Clare's series (6)
Swallows and Amazons series (12)
Tom Brown's Schooldays
Beauty and the Beast (Ladybird)
Yikes! That's 36 books... @ 20p each so £7.20
Had I allowed myself longer I could easily have doubled that list... makes me realise just how fortunate I am to have grown up where I did, with access to so many books.
Today - £7.20
Total - £7.50 plus one prayer of thanksgiving
PS... how could I have missed The Railway Children, one of the books I've read over and over...?
Day 2 - "Give thanks and praise for your education and for the doors it has opened for you professionally and personally."
I recall a story told many, many years ago, when I was about seven, attending the MHA Sunny Smiles 'Festival of Queens'. It was an event where Sunday School and youth organisations brought the money they had raised by 'selling' Sunny Smiles, photos of children who lived in MHA homes, to help raise funds for the charity. The event was basically a service (I have vivid memories of lustily singing 'Go tell it on the mountain') with a talk about the work of MHA. It ran roughly thus, a little girl in one of the homes was writing a letter and asked the house-mother how to spell "kyou". The woman paused and said 'what kind of kyou? Do you mean like a bus queue? Or do you mean like a snooker cue?' No, the little girl replied, I am writing a letter to the person who sent me the toys and I want to say 'than kyou'.
Thank you, God,
That someone thought it important enough to teach children to read and write
That someone thought such education should be freely available
That someone derived schemes for teaching literacy and numeracy
That someone taught me sounds with flashcards
That Dick and Dora, Fluff and Rover saw me onto the path of knowledge
Thank you, God,
That, even if the 1970s were the nadir of English education,
I had access to free musical instrument lessons
I was taught by some excellent and inspiring teachers
I was able to choose subjects that interested and fulfilled my thirst for learning
Thank you, God,
That I was able to study for a first degree, not once, but twice
That libraries were full of appropriate texts
Labs well equipped, placements carefully selected
That I was, and am, able to continue to study and learn
And all because
A long time ago
Someone thought it important to teach children to read
Thank you God,
For my education and all it has given me,
Not just the bits of paper, nice though they are
Not just the career opportunities, fulfilling as they may be
But the entrance into the world of learning and discovering
That would otherwise be impossible.
Children under-five of educated mothers — even mothers with only primary schooling — are more likely to survive than those of mothers with no education.
Give thanks and praise for your education and for the doors it has opened for you professionally and personally.
No new challenge today
Today - one prayer of thanksgiving
Total - 30p + one prayer of thanksgiving
...and to dust you will return.
These words are spoken by priests (RC/Anglican/Orthodox) as they daub the foreheads of the faithful with a blend of burned palm cross and oil, as part of the ritual of repentance that marks the start of Lent. Other Christian traditions don't 'do' ashing, we find it a little odd, sometimes even a bit macabre. Certainly it is sombre, reminding people of their mortality and smallness in the grand scheme of things. I do wonder, though, whether there are less depressing and more uplifting ways of reading/hearing that without ending up being accused of heresy.
You are dust, and to dust you will return. That's a fact. Every molecule, every atom in my body was once part of something else, they are borrowed by me (or for me) and after me they will be dispersed to await incorporation to someone or something else. When I first became conscious of that, many years ago, I found it rather scary, it did seem to stress yet further the nothingness and unimportance of 'me'. But these days, having been confronted with my own mortality, I find it rather comforting and reassuring. That my interconnectedness with the earth, and the continued worth of the chemicals that compose me, is very positive and worthwhile. Recognising my own inherent and indestructible place in creation has to affect the way I view it, and how I live within in it.
This is not the whole picture. The unique 'I' is far more than a random collection of chemicals carefully configured. I am not, as our ethics lecturer used to express it, 'a computer made of meat'. The personality, the intellect, the soul, the spirit, these are - for me anyway - not merely the result of chemical reactions or electrical impulses, but something that both arises within and somehow transcends creation. For me it is not enough simply that I am dust and will return to dust, I need more - I need the hope of 'sure and certain resurrection to eternal life' not as some kind of literal remaking of me as I am now (or was at 17 or 36 or might be if I live to 60) but as a continuation of the unique 'Catriona' who, whilst shaped by a physical creation, exists beyond it.
'Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life in Christ our Lord.' These words I say at the end of every funeral carry with them both the reality of our earthiness and the hope of our eternity.
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return... child of earth, inextricably bound with all creation, loved into being by God.
One day I will hand back my borrowed chemical elements, in much the same way as a borrowed garment; on that day when they are no longer nedded to protect and contain me, a new kind of life will be mine. Until then, I will cherish the life I have, and try to be more aware of my true place in creation.