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  • Three years on...

    ... from the Christchurch earthquake.  Who'd have thought I'd be in New Zealand for this day?  It has been quite poignant watching TV news coverage of memorials and reports on the rebuilding work (a long, long way still to go).

    Tragedy comes in many forms, most of them down to the way things are in a 'disordered and damaged' world or even as part of a 'best of all worlds' in which free will in some shape or form exists.

    Taking a moment to remember those who are still gireving, whose lives have been permanently altered and hoping that they will find a way to embrace their futures.

  • Another Good Day

    Day 2 of the conference began with a superb presentation by the conference organiser, combining some careful theological material with some very personal experience, his little granddaughter has neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer.  As part of what he shared was this, penned his daughter, the little girl's mother:

    We can't go back to normal
    Who wants to anyway?
    We take this time, we learn from it
    We love life more than then.

    © Katie Sharples

    Very wide-ranging topics, some quantum physics, some Hebrew etymology on the Genesis 1 story, a powerful presentation on Soul Nursing by a very clever Palliative Care Nurse (suspect it was her entire Masters dissertation summarised), a panel of medics being asked about how they related their spirituality to practice (and a good range they were from a Maltese Catholic palliative care doctor to a charismatic evangelical surgical oncologist in colorectal care, and most station between!).

    Lunch with some wonderful hospice chaplains (thank you for buying me lunch) and chats with many others – one who had even found this blog (hello!).

    I had a wonderful time, amazingly I managed to concentrate through the whole thing (25-30 mins talking being sermon length I guess) and have even retained some of what I heard – copious notes have their uses.  I felt that my paper had held its own in the context of a event, which was both a big relief and a big encouragement – the first serious bit of theological-ish writing from scratch since my diagnosis – it was a thrill to realise I can still do it, even if it was SO hard!

    Perhaps the unexpected bonus of the whole event has been the recovery of a bit of confidence… no-one can ever take me back to the BC (Before Cancer) place but the AD (After Diagnosis) place has its own delights to reveal as I journey onwards.  So the doctoral route was not to be, but nothing is wasted and in all things God works for good for those who love God, and now I find, to my amazement I contribute to the body of knowledge on 'Theology, Spirituality and Cancer' – who'd have thought it?

  • Good Day!

    Day 1 of the Symposium on Theology, Spirituality and Cancer has gone really well - I had a great time!  For the most part the papers were interesting and excellent - and those that lacked excellence (mostly because too much was attempted in the time allotted) were still interesting.  Mine was well received with some good, but not too tricky, questions and I was well in side the allocated time.  Lots of people sought me out to thank me for my paper, valuing it as sharing of story, appropriate openness/honesty and saying it was helpful.

    During the course of the day I met a fair few other Baptists, including a delightful couple who are going to take me to their church on Sunday (it being 'not that kind of Baptist church') and then for lunch - how kind is that?  Today a few folk took me under thier wing to ensure I had company at lunch time and tea time.

    Had a sly smile when the evening keynote speaker refered to 'neece' (NICE) which he asserted was UK, and I hadn't the heart to point out that it is SIGN in Scotland, and it was an engaging, wide ranging and thoughtful talk.

    Am tired but looking forward to day two - and staying up late to try to buy Glasgow 2014 netball final tickets....

  • Holy Island

    My minimal smattering of Maori now includes Matotapu - Holy/Sacred Island.

    Didn't actually get there, but was on the next one, Rangitoto - which means 'blood red sky' reflecting its origin from a volcanic eruption.

    Unlike UK Holy Islands, there is no religious settlement/community there, it is being developed as a nature reserve.  But it did remind me of an essay I wrote a very long time ago about a water rite associated with tapu (taboo)  and some sort of nice circularity in now visiting the part of the world from which it originated.

    In some ways I struggle with the idea of sacred places/spaces as I think the 'thinness' is often in us not the physical location with which we associate it.  The idea of the earth as sacred, now that I'll sign up for any day of the week!


  • Hokey Pokey

    is allegedly the favourite ice-cream flavour in Auckland - caramel icrecream with honeycomb and caramel bits in it.  It was quite tasty!

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    PS I was in the shade otherwise I'd have had a hat on too!


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