Recently I posted, then took down since it caused offence, some thoughts that arose from my experience of being asked to conduct a wedding blessing for someone who was terminally ill. There was a key question underlying the problem, namely whose story it was and who could legitimately tell it. I think that's an important question, though it really isn't so easy to answer since the experience arose from the interplay of two stories. I remain convinced that my reflections are legitimately mine, but that may not mean they are suitable to share.
Today I am very mindful of someone else whose life story is - or was - interwoven with mine because of some shared experiences, but am a little apprehensive to share any thoughts, lest they cause offence.
Suffice to say, that this weekend a young woman I came to know and admire ought to have been celebrating her thirtieth birthday. Instead, following her death from breast cancer at the age of just 27, her family and friends have organised a massive charity fundraiser in her memory.
Thirty years ago, as L was entering this world as a baby, I had just graduated and begun work as a professional engineer. I was then, just 22 years old.
When I was 27, I owned my own home, was building a flourishing engineering career and life was good. I was also 27 when my Dad died, at the comparatively young age of 65. At 27, L faced the news of a terminal diagnosis with courage and died within a few short weeks.
On my 30th birthday my car suffered engine failure as I drove south for a family celebration meal. I remember that a friend of a friend's teenage daughter gave birth that day and I wondered what lay in store for her son. I celebrated my birhtday with my mother, siblings, and such nephews and nieces as had by then arrived. Life was good, hope was high... I dared to imagine my future. No thirtieth birthday for L, but she will be remembered.
Thirty years ago had anyone said I'd be a Baptist minister or that I'd live in Scotland, that I'd have visited New Zealand to speak about my cancer at conference or that I'd be a prolific blogger (whatever one of those might have been) I'd have laughed in derision.
But here I am, thirty years on from the start of my engineering career, lots of unexpected twists and turns along the way, lots of stories that have interweave with my own.
Today I will pause to remember L. Her story is not my story, but part of it is permanently woven into mine. The weaving, the reflecting - the making of meaning - this is what I try to do. And sometimes determining how much of that can appropriately shared is a tricky call.