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- Page 6

  • After the rant...

    ... I was going to log off the computer and do some overdue housework.

    Then the urgent message... can you come now, this minute...

    A wedding blessing scheduled for Saturday now needed to be today or it would probably be too late.

    I went as fast as Scotrail could carry me.  The registrar arrived but could not perform the legals because the person was too unwell.  So I did the blessing, re-writing mentally as I went along, delcaring the couple married before God.

    And that, gentle reader, is why I rant and rage sometimes.

    This was a huge privilege, a massive responsiblity, a bittersweet beautiful moment to gather with a family around a bedside to bless a marriage before God if not in the eyes of the state, and to help hurting people in their moment of need.

    Survivor? No.

    Over it? Never.

    Transformed by it?  Definitely.

    Peace be upon you, P & A, your love is eternal.

  • "Cancer Survivors Day" - 7th June, evidently

    Apparently yesterday was "Cancer Survivors Day" and for anyone who marked it, enjoyed it or celebrated it, well done.

    I didn't.  I wouldn't.

    I didn't because I was unaware of it, and wouldn't because, though totally well-meant, the word "survivor" does not work for me.

    If those of us still here are "survivors" what does that make those who are not?

    What does it say about Joy, Margaret, Rose, Paul, Anthony, John, Claire, Rachel, Gillian, Jan, Freda, Kate, Lil, Anne, Lulu, Laura, Caroline, Jean, June, Lynn, Sheila (all real first names)... and the countless, countless others I've known personally who died from cancer? 

    Are they losers?  Did they somehow fail?

    Of course not.  These names date back to the late 1970s, some of them were diagnosed so late on they didn't stand a chance; some of them underwent all sorts of horrible treatments with courage, positivity and humour, but they could not beat, defeat or 'survive' cancer.

    In a couple of months time I will reach the fifth anniversary of my diagnosis.  I did not expect to be here to reach this milestone, or if I did reach it, did not expect to be disease free, as my starting point wasn't exactly brilliant.  But here I am, keeping well, basically healthy, and living life.

    This is part of my problem - cancer is a collection of cruel, unpredictable diseases that doesn't read the text books.  You can start with a lousy prognosis and be fine, or a great prognosis and it gets you anyway.  You can obey the rules to the letter and get cancer, or you can live a life or riley and get off scot free.  So 'survivor' is a bit of a naff term, in my view.  Sure, my choices can help or hinder my long term health - and I prefer to think I've done all I can (within reason) to keep it kicked into touch - but no one told cancer the rules!

    Is there a better word? Is there a word that allows those who are fortunate enough to be cured or in remission or NED to affirm that without, unintentionally insulting or denying those who are Stage 4, or terminal or who have died?  I'm not sure there is.

    As for me, I think the phrase "still NED as far as I know" is as good as it gets... NED - no evidence of disease, a phrase that acknowledges the possibility that cancer will, or even has already, come back but isn't yet showing its ugly head.  A phrase that is inherently humble, provisional, honest... this, for me, is what is needed.

    Some readers may define themselves as Survivors; others will be living with, or supporting loved ones with, primary cancer, and some with secondary cancer... whatever language is right for you is right for you. 

    Me, I'll be a grateful, humble NED whose life is richer for knowing those who were not as lucky.

  • Cafe Style Communion... and Story Telling

    ... is not new, I've done it many times in many places, sometimes leading, sometimes participating, but there is always just a hint of nerves when doing it for the first time with one's own church: after all you have to go back next week!!

    I am really grateful to A, B, B and M who helped set up the room, to G who prepared fifteen tables worth of plates with bread rolls and communion glasses and to the choir and sound desk folk who helped with the mulit-voiced element of the liturgy adated legitimately from that shared at the BUGB/BMS Assembly in Peterborough.

    Because the first two Sundays in June are when the church offers early afternoon events in Glasgow's West End Festival, there is always a little bit of time pressure for the service - not helped when it is a communion Sunday as I like to take that part of the service at a relaxed pace so we can savour what we are about (I know, and me an ordinance theologian too...).

    So I am very grateful to the Sunday School, especially E, who offered to skip the All Together bit this week (they are taking the whole service next week and were willing to give more time to planning and preparing that) which made my task of a full service in 55 mins (60 with notices) more achieveable.

    The time pressure meant at best a homily rather than a sermon... The difference between a homily and a sermon?  About fifteen minutes :).  In the end I decided to story-tell part of the Mark 2 lectionary reading, interspersed with bits of the lectionary psalm, from the perspective on Levi ben Alphaeus.

    I like story telling, and because my Dad was a brilliant story teller, and because primary school, Sunday School and Girls' Brigade all gave me lessons in expressive reading and narration, I'm actually reasonably good at it.

    Levi, who woke up on a perfectly ordinary day, and ended up abandoning his career to go with Jesus.

    Levi who invited Jesus and his followers, and his own friends, and even some dodgy people for dinner.

    Levi who could be any one of us - an ordinary person, doing their best to get it right, and encountering in Jesus hope, love and acceptance they could never have imagined.

    I had fun... I hope other people found it meaningful, and a little less stressful overall than it sometimes is, and that in some small measure, God entered our ordinary, everyday getting up, walking around lives and made them brighter.

  • The Power of Small Things...

    One of my monthly pleasures is listening to the Small Voice podcast produced by GRF Christian radio.  They tell me I'm not their traget audience but secretly I reckon they are glad of the regular plugs I give them, here and on social media. :-)

    I loved this poem, which they shared this month, in what I found an especially resonant edition of the podcast...  I always enjoy listening but this edition had a certain 'je ne sais quoi', for me anyway.

    On a soggy Saturday morning, with two kitties for company it was thoughtful and thought provoking listening.

    You can find it here - well worth a listen.

  • Thirty years...!

    It struck me today that it is near as makes no odds 30 years since I completed my first degree!  It only took me 29 years to throw out the notes, and I still have the text books (some of which are still used, I believe!).  I have no idea where all those years went, but went they did!

    I fished out my certificates from their assorted envelopes at the back of my wardrobe and reminded myself how unspectacular they are!  Clearly these universities have no desire to produce statements in Latin or to affix grandiose seals, just a glorified sheet of A4 (or in one case foolscap) paper.

    I suppose after thirty years I really ought to get the first one framed... or maybe not.  There's something suitably grounded about keeping it in an envelope along with my 'O' and 'A' level certificates and other assorted commendations from my youth.

    One heck of a lot of work went into each of the three degrees, so I'm glad to have these reminders of what I once achieved.

    Just as well I only had two degrees at the time of my BUGB handshake though...