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  • There's a Herd A-Gathering...

    Heading south to meet with a the wonderful diversity of people that together are the Baptist Union of Great Britain.

    At our best, Baptists are a very broad church, delighting in diversity, and able to admit that, however hard-won and honestly-held our views, we just might be wrong.

    Over many years I have travelled a huge journey in understanding many aspects of faith, theology and ethics.  Today I am choosing to declare myself as one of an increasing number of Baptists who are #notafraidofelephants and who are willing to learn with and from each other in a way that is open, gracious and for many accepting or/and affirming.

    As an acredited Baptist minister in covenant with two Unions, I continue to accept the discipline of those Unions on matters of faith and practice,  and I seek to remain in relationship with those whose equally honestly held understandings differ from my own... there is always the possibility that I may be wrong.

    There's a herd a-gathering, and it's good to be part of it.

  • If it's Thursday then it must be...

    Life is more than a little bit bonkers at the moment. 

    Tomorrow morning I will jump on a train and head south for the English Baptist Assembly in Oxford, staying with a minister friend in Watford and doing a guest preach on Sunday before heading back north.  I am looking forward to catching up with Baptist friends from around England and Wales, and indeed the small number of others who travel from Scotland to participate in this event.  I am keen to see how the experimental format pans out this time - I was pleasantly surprised last year.  I may even break the rules and sneak a photo of one name on the In Memoriam as she was one of 'ours', a retired former missionary... hopefully I can be forgiven!

    Pentecost weekend is a great time to be meeting together, remembering not the fleeting supernatural understanding or the euphoria, but rather the lasting change in the lives of previously fearful men (and women) who found themselves empowered, encouraged and inspired for mission and ministry.

    If it's Thursday, then I must be sure I have everything sorted ready! The sermon is wirtten, the tickets are bought... just the bag to pack and I'm good to go.

    If you 'do' Twitter then #bap16 will lead you to whatever is being posted, otherwise, I will report back in due course!

    Have a good weekend, and may God's Spirit comfort or distrub you as is needful at this time.

  • When You Are Old...

    ... someone will take you by the hand and lead you where you do not want to go (the end of John's gospel, too lazy to look up chapter and verse)

    This evening I researched and ordered some woven name tags to stitch into my Mum's clothes in the hope that they don't all disappear at the nursing home to which she has moved. 

    It felt very strange to be doing something for her that she oculd never have afforded to do for us when we were growing up - we used to take a biro and write our names on the clothing labels or inside the collar of shirts, and have to repeat it at regualr intervals as it soon washed out.

    But more it is strange that the roles are reversed, that now I am the one (with my sibs) making choices on her behalf.  Even down to the way her name is embroidered on 144 name tags that I will then need to sew into her clothes (Black, sans serif, not block capitals).

    Strange to be cancelling her digital TV subscription, her telephone contract and knowing there are many more still to be done in the days and weeks ahead.

    It feels very weird, and whilst I suppose there is some sort of privilege and some sort of expectation/duty there, I am not quite sure how I am meant to feel about it. Stream of consciousness follows...


    This is my Mum, the person within whose womb I was conceived

    My Mum, at whose breast I suckled

    Who bathed and clothed me when I could do nothing for myself.


    This is my Mum, the person who taught me to walk and to talk

    My Mum, who allowed me, aged five, to take her favourite blue glass jug to the school jumble sale (and it was gone before she could arrive to buy it back)

    Who listened to my reading, my tables, my spellings, encouraging me to excel wherever I could.


    This is my Mum, the person who went without so that I didn't

    My Mum who baked a birthday cake shaped like a cottage, took me to piano lessons and failed to teach me knit!

    Whose help was the cause of my one diastrous French homework, who steered me to subjects that should lead to employment.


    This my Mum, who never understood why I left it all to follow a call to ministry

    My Mum, who proudly spoke of her daughter, the engineer, the minister

    Who cheered from the sidelines as best she could, worried, cajoled, and, yes, criticised.


    This is my Mum, a widow for over a quarter century, many of whose friends have slipped away through death

    My Mum who now finds her memory fading, time collapsing in on itself, independence stolen

    Who must depend on those she nurtured to step up and care for her.


    This is my Mum, who has grown old

    Has been taken by the hand and led where she did not want to go.

    Whom I love, and whom cannot protect from the inevitability of old age and frailty


    The circle spins round, carer becomes cared for, child becomes as parent

    This is my Mum...

    God help me to be the daughter of whom she dreamed all those years ago.

  • Enduring Enjoyment

    Way, way back, when I began blogging, I knew oodles of people who blogged, and had a long list of links on the side bar of this blog.  Now, many, maybe most, of those have gone the way of all flesh.  So it seemed good to give a 'shout out' to some of my blogging buddies who are still actively posting, entertaining, encourgaing, challenging and inspiring me.

    The Beaker Folk of Husbourne Crawley is probably my all time favourite, combining some real belly laughs with some equally profound reflection.  The Archdruid has communication skills I might covet, were coveting not verboten!

    For pure creativity, spectacular punning and down to earth Christianity, Tracing Rainbows is another 'must read' blog on my list.  A minister's wife, mother, preacher, teacher, crafter and other things too numeorous to mention, Angela can always find something positive to post about, which is a real gift.

    Living Wittily is a mostly theological/spirituality blog by someone whose capacity to read, reflect and respond to huge theological tomes leaves me dizzy.  Preacher, educator, mischief-maker and friend, Jim regularly makes me think and often makes me smile, which is a winning combination.

    Lastly, Perpetually in Transit, the blog of a (retired) pioneering woman priest is a veritable feast of homely and engaging reflection on life and family.  Living between Scotland, Wales and France, sharing amazing nature photos, reminiscing about times past, and doing so all with humour, grace and literay skill.  Not quite as prolific as the other three, but always a welcome and valuable diversion.  Thank you, Perpetua.

    Way back, there used to 'blog award' memes that did the rounds, and everyone linked everyone else's blogs.  Those days are (thankfully) long gone, even if it does make it a little harder to find new and interesting blogs to visit.

    Anyway, thank you Archdruid Eileen, Angela, Jim and Perpetua for allowing me to share in your lives and thoughts for so many years, I am definitely glad that you chose to become bloggers.

  • The Importance of Choice

    Having spent something like 14 hours out of 30 on a long distance coach, I had a fair amount of time to cogitate, along with trying to sleep, something I managed far better on the homebound journey when generally 'spentness' meant I actually slept through a couple of stops!

    I found myself wondering why it was that I have had such a love-hate relationship with my hair for the past four years or so (having had no hair and then fun, wild hair for almost that years before that) and I realised it was all about choice and expectations.

    Yesterday at my Uncle's funeral, the husband of one of my cousins (who I last saw about 20 years ago) observed that, "you were always the one with gorgeous hair down to here" (pointing to his waist).  And I was.  And it was such a surprise to be told that someone had considered it gorgeous, because all through school, and most of my life since, I have fought off peer pressure to get it chopped or permed or coloured or whatever.

    What struck me was that the hair cut I have just had done, which I love and is surprisingly flexible (I can be a funky, spikey pixie, or a sleek, smooth pixie, or a bit-of-each pixie), is the first active choice I have made about my hair since September 2010.  And that's a very long time.

    When I had it cut short pre-chemo in 2010 there was no choice, and no matter how good it looked (and it was a perfectly nice cut) I wasn't going to love it.

    When I had the first, ostensibly chosen, cut at the start of 2012, the hairdresser out of kindness, told me what he suggested, and so a very short bob emerged and, with some variation in length and tweaks, that has continued until now.  Every visit to the hairdresser has been a major stress event, because I haven't known what I wanted or had the courage to challenge the status quo.  My hairdresser is lovely, really kind and really aware of my foibles, it's not his fault, but it has become a hugely disempowering viscious circle.

    So it was that I let my hair grow a bit longer and, with his guidance, tried to see if I could, one last time, grow it to a length that would allow me choices in how I styled it.  And it didn't work, I just felt I looked like a scarecrow with unruly hair that went every which way, is thinning quite rapidly, and grows at a rate well below average.

    Making a conscious choice for change, taking some time to research possibilties, plucking up the courage to take along a photo and say "can you do something like this" has been surprisingly liberating and empowering.  Which may be, at least in part, why I am finally back to loving my hair, choosing to look the way I choose to look and ignoring what the fashionistas or the well-intentioned others may tell me I "should" be doing.

    I don't wish I had done this back in 2012, and I certainly don't wish I had done it pre-2010, but I am happy that, finally, I have 'feel good' hair, even if the 20 years too late compliments evoke a bittersweet sense of how it once was.

    All of which brought home to me very powerfully the importance of choice, and why we need to exercise it if we are to be who we are meant to be.