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  • Almost Six!

    This year I'll be missing my 'Induction Anniversary' because I'll be off on my hols... which I am in need of it has to be said!  So I'm cheating and marking it a week early this year... which means this coming Sunday, which coincides with the Scottish school's September break and loads of other people being away, ah well.

    This will be my sixth anniversary of being here, so I have to try to work in this poem...

    When I was one,
    I had just begun.
    When I was two,
    I was nearly new.
    When I was three,
    I was hardly me.
    When I was four,
    I was not much more.
    When I was five,
    I was just alive.
    But now I am six,
    I'm as clever as clever.
    So I think I'll be six
    now and forever.


    And there will have to be cake... best get my baking head on again!!

  • Urban Harvest - In Hospital We Meet You

    The hymn "The Harvest of the City" includes the lines

    "In hospital and harbour

    We meet you night and day"

    I took the phrase "In hospital we meet you" as the basis for a second reflection.  This one is perhaps too risky to share in its entirety, lest it cause offence or is judged improper.

    So, in summary, I spoke briefly, and carefully of three recent encounters in three hospitals when, maybe, I met God...

    • an 'emergency' marriage at the fairy-light decorated bedside of a cancer patient
    • a visit to a patient in the critcal care unit at a new, state-of-the-art hospital where, almost incongruosuly, huge picture windows allowed warm summer sun to stream in from a world that carried on as if nothing had happened
    • sharing communion in a comandeered hospital chapel where sacred and silly melded perfectly to create a beautiful whole

    "In hospital, we meet you"

  • Urban Harvest - God of Girder and of Beam

    Here's one of the reflections I shared last night.  It seemed to be well received by most of those present (and those who didn't get my strange passion for heavy engineering were too polite to comment)

    I first sang the hymn "God of Concrete, God of steel" in a cold, damp Baptist church in Paddington, London back in the 1980s.  It captured my imagination.  Then a first year engineering student, I delighted in a hymn that expressed something of the beauty that I find in industrial plant.  I am that strange person who loves nothing better than to visit a restored bobbin mill, or a mining museum or to watch the glide of pistons on restored steam engines whilst drawing in huge breaths of hot, oil-scented air! 

    Reading over the words of the hymn, I recalled the time I stood in the stressing gallery of a vast pre-stressed concrete structure, marvelling at the simple elegance of the huge steel hawsers arranged to achieve stability and strength – God of concrete, God of steel.  Turbines, valves, cooling towers, electricity pylons… each, for me, is a thing of beauty, a mysterious melding of form and function.  All the power of earth is thine!

    And then there are cranes.

    It was during my workshop training that I first came to admire cranes – in this case the overhead travelling cranes that glided silently from one end of a vast fabrication shop to another, their amber lights flashing and supply cables snaking along the gantry.  A man in toe-tectors, hard hat and a hi-viz jacket would amble along the side, reaching out to guide the passage of a huge sheet of steel or a bundle of iron bars just with the touch of a hand.  Elegant and simple, seemingly effortless, as the saying goes, 'poetry in motion.'

    But my real love is jib cranes, the towering giants that pierce the sky line.  All those lessons on mechanics from school maths and physics classes translate into elegant structures whose struts and ties are perfectly aligned not only for function but with a symmetry and order that delights my eye.  Silent giants, swooping and turning, dancing their way through the necessary work of moving their cargo of building materials or vehicles or shipping containers.  The summer of 2009 saw me watch as a mobile crane lifted roof trusses from the back of a lorry and hoisted them aloft, to where waiting builders caressed them into place on the new build homes where our church (in Dibley) once stood.  Bittersweet, but none the less beautiful (one of my former church members, also a neighbour, still tells the tale of how I once told her I couldn't stay for a long chat because the crane had just arrived!). 

    This too has its place in the song - God of girder and of beam

    The natural world, is readily recognised as the handiwork of God, and offers an easy, ephemeral beauty in which to delight.  Grain, fruit and vegetables are an obvious harvest.  Perhaps it needs a certain kind of person to revel in the mysteries of engineering and science and to see that these, too, are part of God's creation.  Perhaps it required lateral thinking to identify structures built or cargoes transported as an alternative form of harvest.

    You probably won't share my passion for industrial archaeology, or for cranes, and that's totally fine.  But next time you pass the Finnieston crane, sentinel over the Clyde and monument to part of Glasgow's industrial past, or next time you glance skywards and see the giraffe-like reach of a tower crane, perhaps you will recall some of the words we've sung, thanking God both for the wonder of the built environment in its diversity and for science and technology that make it possible.

  • Harvest Service Number 1

    The before photo!  All set up ready to go, tables arranged cafe style with tablecloths, paper table mats (GCM and Operation harvest resources) grown up colouring and crayons, lots of crayons!  Elsewhere a room was set up for flower arranging and cake decorating as a "hospitality zone" and another area as a "creative zone" where it was possible to have a go at block printing or to make a GCM money box.  Plus of course a creche or 'play zone' as it was termed.

    The service flowed on into lunch, with five kinds of tasty home made soup, crusty bread, dips and dunks, Indian snacks, home baking and biscuits.

    We have raised some tidy sums for each of the charities and I think most people enjoyed themselves.

    A lot of people mucked in to ensure we had a veritable feast, to wash up and to clear up. 

    Now it's time for a little rest, then out to gather fallen leaves for this evening's service, a shower and a change of clothes (not least as I have bright yellow printing ink on my brown skirt...)

    A good day, and it's not over yet.

  • Harvest Doubles

    Crane through the mist... a hint to just one of the things I've been pondering and preparing for two very different harvest-themed services tomorrow.

    A few more pictorial clues... relating to the morning service (the crane is for the evening)




    Many thanks to those who gave up time this afternoon to shift and arrange furniture in readiness for tomorrow's cafe style extravaganza