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  • Apple Christening Day

    My Dad always called St Swithin's Day 'Apple Christening Day'.  I never gave it any thought until today when my neighbour observed that it was St Swithin's Day and it had been raining a lot all day.

    A bit of googling and it seems my Dad was not alone in this practice - and that rain on St Swithin's Day was sometimes seen as christening the apples... I guess there may be a corelation between rain in mid July and a good harvest of apples, but I haven't checked.

    It more reminded me of the lore that every family has, with sayings and associations that mean little or nothing to others.  Not so very different from churches or the Church then...

    May the apples be blessed with sweet juiciness... and can we not have another 39 wet days straight!

  • Unexpectedly Intriguing!

    One of the things I enjoy about preparing sermons is their propensity to take me in directions I had not anticipated, or to make links that I had never before made.

    So, I am intrigued that for the second week running I have made links between the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and the I Am sayings in John.  No doubt loads of poeple have done this before, but it is intriguing me, at least as long as it works (which may not be much longer, but it's been fun!).

    This Sunday will be 'I am the Gate" which is intriguing for all sorts of reasons.  Hope I can communicate something of what it's got me thinking about!

  • Grandsons and Grannies...

    This poem...


     by Vernon Scannell


    I stayed with her when I was six then went

    To live elsewhere when I was eight years old.

    For ages I remembered her faint scent

    Of lavender, the way she'd never scold

    No matter what I'd done, and most of all

    The way her smile seemed, somehow, to enfold

    My whole world like a warm, protective shawl.


    I knew that I was safe when she was near,

    She was so tall, so wide, so large, she would

    Stand mountainous between me and my fear,

    Yet oh, so gentle, and she understood

    Every hope and dream I ever had.

    She praised me lavishly when I was good,

    But never punished me when I was bad.


    Years later war broke out and I became

    A soldier and was wounded while in France.

    Back home in hospital, still very lame,

    I realised suddenly that circumstance

    Had brought me close to that small town where she

    Was living still. And so I seized the chance

    To write and ask if she could visit me.


    She came. And I still vividly recall

    The shock that I received when she appeared

    That dark cold day. Huge grannie was so small!

    A tiny, frail, old lady. It was weird.

    She hobbled through the ward to where I lay

    And drew quite close, and, hesitating, peered.

    And then she smiled: and love lit up the day.


    And this video...
  • Old Love...

    Yesterday evening's service was a sort of reflection on old age and included poems, video clips and some thoughts from me.  Here is the first of two posts sharing some of that material.

    This short passage has been chosen by a young couple whose wedding I will be conducting in September... it is just beautiful...


    The Beauty of Love (Anon)

    The question is asked; "Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?"
    And the answer is given: "Yes, there is a more beautiful thing."
    "It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled but still clasped; their faces are seamed but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired but still strong wth love and devotion. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love."
    And this video of a song based on another powm (note the subtitles have an error near the end where the word 'gone' should actaully be 'gaunt')
  • Childless Women...

    Apparently one of two women seeking to become leader of the UK Conservative party and, thence, de facto Prime Minister, has said that she is more invested in the future of this nation because she is a mother than is her rival, who is not.

    Whether the report is accurate or not, and however out of context it is being cited, it was guaranteed to anger women who, for any number of reasons are not mothers, myself among them...

    Those who never met the right partner
    Those for whom it just never happened
    Those who were unable to conceive or carry a baby
    Those whose male partners were unable to father a child
    Those for whom fertility treatment or IVF was unsuccessful
    Those who were rendered infertile by injury or illness
    Those who were rendered infertile by life saving medical treatment
    Those who opted to care for members of their exisiting family
    Those who chose careers that made motherhood an unrealisitc option
    Those who felt that it was selfish to bring a child into an over-populated world
    Those who inadvertently left it too late
    Those who knew that motherhood was not for them

    Those I didn't even think of...

    Apparently we are less invested in the future...
    We engineers, scientists, teachers, doctors, nurses, researchers, midwives, chidlren's workers, youth organisation leaders...


    I wonder how we define "investment in the future"?

    I spent half my adult life working in industry to try to ensure a safe, reliable electricity supply across this land - and shared the frustration of others that no significant government investment was made in research and development of new or alternative technologies

    I spent thirty years encouraging other people's daughters to discover and develop their gifts and skills, to know their unique worth whatever life may bring them.  I took them on holidays, accompanied them to courses, went to their school concerts, baptisms, confirmations, weddings...

    I continue to spend my adult life trying to support and encourage others as they make sense of life froman overtly Christian perspective, which includes looking forward, practically and prayerfully to a future when I am no longer here.

    So if I'm somehow less invested in the future, I'm sorry - but I am more sorry, and not a little angry, at any suggestion that reproducing or not somehow relates to the integrity, investment or suitability of another human being.

    Here endeth the rant!