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  • Rough or Smooth?

    It's interesting to note that my last post was about the fragility of public transport, not least since my holiday was topped and tailed by more transport dramas.  But I suppose the thing that struck me most was the way people responded to them.

    As I had a v-e-r-y long and messed about journey from Glasgow to Manchester Airport, I recalled two days in the past when my views on delays and diversions had shifted.  One was way back in the day, when I had to drive silly distances for work, and realised that I was getting paid whether or not the vehicle was moving, so what did it matter?  Travelling became much less stressful after that.  The other was during my cancer treatment when I was very keenly aware of my own mortality and realised that delays and disruptions were not 'dead' or 'wasted' time but instead a gift of time to employ differently.  As a result of these two shifts in thinking, I was utterly unruffled (if decidedly tired) when I finally reached Manchester airport at 1:15 a.m. Monday morning needing to be up and out at 4 a.m.  And I was amused and blessed with an extra half day in Madeira when my flight home was delayed overnight due to adverse weather conditions in Funchal (rain closed the airport!!).  And despite more signal failures and train delays, I got home safely at just after 6 p.m. last night, with just enough time to buy ingredients and bake cupcakes before retiring at midnight-ish.

    Life is what you make of it, and I was surprised and irritated, even almost angered, by the negative responses of some of the other passengers on the delayed flight.  Having been taken to a decent hotel, given lunch, promised dinner and breakfast, and having enough leisure time to be worthwhile, all they could do was complain.  Where were the forms to get their money back?  Why was the hotel 'only' giving a continental breakfast at the airline's expense?  Could they get a receipt for a cup of coffee to claim back?  They were never again going to use that airline (presumably because they couldn't fix the weather) and so on and so forth.

    Whilst I was on holiday, I received a text to tell me a friend had just been diagnosed with secondary cancer, a stark reminder of the fragility of life.  As I listened to the gripes I thought of the countless people whose loved ones were slipping away from them, and who would have gladly traded places with them.  My inner, not so nice, person was shouting at them... you have health, you have a bed for the night, you have plenty of food, get over yourselves.

    There is a choice with the events of life, so I was told when I was a child - to grasp the 'rough handle' or the 'smooth handle'.  If you take the rough one your hand hurts... the rough, angry, rights-obssessed, easily insulted mind-set hurts only the person who holds onto such attitudes.  Instead take the smooth one... the gentle, positive, optimisitic, adventurous atttidue, and you find it more copable, even with its lighter moments and silver linings.

    Yes, there were things concerning trains and planes where improvements in practice (mostly communication) would have made a difference, but at the end of the day, I had a wonderful holiday, got the cupcakes delivered on time, and have emerged, if weary, unscathed.


    Adventurous God,

    For whom an evening and a millenium are as one

    Who sits with the relative keeping vigil over a dying loved one

    Who accompanies the person anxiously awaiting news

    Who is present on every railway station and in every airport

    Who paces with the impatient ones and sits with the silent ones

    Whose hopefulness and positivity cannot and will not be diminished

    Show me how to live your optimisitic gracious love

    So that my rough edges are smoothed

    And the adventure of my life lived to the fullest.

  • Fragile

    120.JPGFor some reason this morning, given that I had a few minutes to wait at Buckshaw Parkway railway station I decided to take a quick snap of myself "sitting on a railway station, dreaming 'bout my destination".  A beautiful, summer, Saturday morning.. I should have anticipated the impact it would have on our fragile public transport system!

    The first train was one that began at Manchester Airport and terminated at Blackpool.  Even though I would only be on it for ten minutes and one stop, I had a seat reservation as a result of online booking.  The train arrived about five minutes late, and, seeing that it would be physically impossible to get into the carriage with my booked seat due to standing passengers, sprinted to the nearest open door and jumped in.  Sunshine on a Saturday - seemingly by the time the train had reached central Manchester it was standing room only.  I hope whoever had my seat enjoyed it... even had I been able to get into that carriage, I could not have reached the seat and then got out again.

    Arrving at Preston, late, I had another sprint, over the bridge for the Virgin train to Glasgow.  Except it, too, was running late.  When it arrived, someone was in my seat, and muttered something about having double booked herself before moving to another, empty seat in what was a fairly heavily booked carriage.  Stuck behind other delayed trains - even after it had phoned and asked to be allowed to overtake the one it was due to connect with, and been denied - the train got later and later, reaching Glasgow nearly 20 minutes late.

    Never mind, I thought, only a few minutes to go on a local train to Hyndland which is, after all, the centre of universe.  Except there was a man at the top of the escalator turning  everyone back "no low level trains at all."  I contemplated walking up to Queen Street, and then on a whim decided to jump onto the Subway.   I knew the Subway had been out of action since Wednesday (when I'd had to rapidly re-plan a route) so was relieved to find that one circle was operating, and that was going the short way to Partick - phew.  Or not.  With passengers crammed in to the extent that Londoners live with daily, the Subway, like the first train of my day, was cram packed with people, and some were left standing on the station platform.

    So, a walk up from Partick and I was home - safe and sound, about an hour later than planned, and pondering the fragility of public transport.  And, I suppose also, the wonder at how rare it actually is for major disruption to occur or continue for more than a day or so.

    For all that, I really hope the trains are behaving tomorrow when I head off on a blendedevening journey to Manchester Airport involving three trains and a bus!!


    How easy to grumble when a train is late,

    A booked seat occupied,

    A connection missed,

    A diversion needed

    Yet how grateful we should be

    For the fragile wonder

    Of safe, bascially reliable,

    Public transport.

    For buses and trains, may God be thanked!

  • A Mission of Convenience?

    Over the years I have become aware of the different ways that churches engage with local community events.  The Glasgow West End Festival is one in which the Gathering Place has a very long track record of hosting excellent, well attended events.  This year, after a gap of a few years, the Mardi Gras parade will pass the end of our road, with the main road being closed pretty much all day, and a fortnight later a national cycle road race will mean more road closures and hundreds of cyclists whizzing by with a few tens of yards of our front door.

    On a bit of a whim, and based on what I have seen other churches do very successfully, I unilaterally suggested that we put up a sign saying "free, clean toilets" and have one or two people on hand to oversee that.  I am really pleased that enough folk have volunteered to staff the first of these - and that more are on hand for the second.

    We had two choices when we heard the roads were closed - to sulk and protest about how it made life difficult for us, or to say, what can we do to make this better for others.  I feel we have made a good choice.


    ♫ ♫ When Festival came to Sheepfold St, ♫ ♫

    ♪ ♪ Let my people go! ♫ ♫

    ♪ ♫ With free, clean loos and baby change ♫ ♫

    ♪ ♪ Let my people go! ♫ ♪

    ♫ ♪ Smiling, friendly, church folk to meet and greet...  ♪ ♫

    ♫ ♫ It is mission to ♪ ♫

    ♪ ♪ let my people go!! ♫ ♫


    Demob happy?  Moi?  You betcha!  (But I am on the loo watch rota!)

  • Tentacles?

    This morning the post brought me a church magazine from one of the churches I will be visiting as part of my Sabbatical.  It was good to read it - gave me a glimpse of the life of this church.  In amongst it was a little article in which two newly appointed deacons shared a little about themselves... one began "I was baptised in 1995 (??? I think from the context that's probably a typo and should be 1955) at...." The Gathering Place!  Wow!  If I was Brian, my erstwhile college tutor, I'd be grinning from ear to ear.  I am doing a little gentle digging to see if anyone recalls said person, but I am certainly amused at the way God weaves the interconnections from our disparate lives.

  • Analogues and Other Oddities

    So, we had ducks on the baptistery (after the service) on Pentecost

    We had reference to cauliflowers for Trinity Sunday 

    And this Sunday we will mention chocolate, jelly, sand, metal, clay and plaster (of paris).

    Can you tell this mnister is getting close to her sabbatical?