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  • It's the little things...

    Today, nine days after it was installed, my shiny new oven is working.  The fitters connected it all up, went to demonstrate it to me - and nothing happened.  They checked there was power reaching it - there was - shrugged their shoulders and left.

    Today, the first available slot arose for a repair man to come out... in under ten minutes he had identified and rectified the problem - a loose wire that he says was visibly not connected...

    So now I have a fully functional kitchen once more, with just some tidying and cosmetic work still to be done.

    And a reminder that details matter, and small things make a big difference - which is pretty much what Operation Agri want me to say on Sunday!

  • World Mental Health Day

    I'll be honest, although I've known about this date for many years, and have seen posts about it, it's never been one that prompeted me to respond.  Not because I thought it was unimportant - it self-evidently is.  Not because I don't know people who live with mental health conditions - I know plenty.  But because, if I'm honest, it never crawled high enough up my personal list of priorities.

    A couple of things have changed that. 

    The first has been comments by a small number of people that I should be grateful to have had a physical health condition that people care about, because for people with mental health conditions, it can feel as if no-one cares.  That was quite salutory.

    The second was the responses I've had, in life and online, since, back in the spring, I outed myself as taking anti-depressants to help with my menopausal mood changes... the Menopausal Monster who was always angry and hated herself.  I even led an evening service looking at mental health, which seemed to be very well received.

    To complicate matters, and as illustrated by my own experience, traumatic life events and stress can trigger or exacerbate mental health conditions, or at least lead to a degree of mental unwellness.  Oodles of cancer patients develop depression; oodles of people with depression get cancer - the two shouldn't be set in opposition by anyone.  Better to recognise the reality that for some people one or other will emerge as more significant.  And it's probably fair to say that people with cancer have more emotional energy to 'shout' their cause than those whose mental wellbeing is affected.

    I'd like to think that my, very limited, personal experience, and the relationships I've formed with others whose conditions are chronic and/or incurable have helped me to be more compassionate and understanding.

  • Eight Days of Harvest

    This is what I'm encouraging people to use to reflect on harvest this week...

    Sunday 8th October

    Share worship ‘the harvest of our labours’

    Monday 9th October

    Think about our community – who lives next door, do we know them? Who do we meet in the street or at the shops?

    Tuesday 10th October

    Think about our daily labour – what are we good at?  How can we offer that to God? What difference does our faith make?

    Wednesday 11th October

    Think about the people who seek justice, inclusion or equality – how can we make that a reality in our church community?

    Thursday 12th October

    Think about the story of people working side by side to rebuild the walls – who can we work alongside to build hope, trust and community?

    Friday 13th October

    Think about Operation Agri and your gift of money – what can we give to this great cause?

    Saturday 14th October

    Celebrate harvest with a nice meal and a few treats!  Perhaps invite neighbours or friends to join you.

    Sunday 15th October

    Share worship ‘the harvest of our love’

  • The Harvest of our Labours (Part 2)

    OK, so I didn't get as far as posting this yesterday - too busy going for a long walk and then falling asleep reading a book!!

    Our reflections at church were based on Deuteronomy 16: 10 - 20 and Nehemiah 3, the former being the instructions for the three obligatory festivals of the early Israelites (Passover, Pentecost and Succoth) and the second the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

    It was a slightly clumsy sermon - I had the ideas but they never quite coalesced into a coherent whole - but hopefully people got what I was trying to share.

    Key to the festivals were themes of worship, community, inclusion and justice.  In my mind's eye this is a round table where people of all races, classes, backgrounds, sexualities etc. meet as equals, share conversation, are given a voice and give a voice to others.  over food the conversation flows, ideas are shared and developed and community is built.  Everyone of equal worth, everyone contributing, everyone sharing and serving each other.

    The Nehemiah story paints a fabulous picture - everyone (except a few who refused) working side by side - priests, levites, scholars, civic leaders, goldsmiths, perfumiers, men and women.  Some made gates, some patched up small stretches of wall, some did longer parts.  Side by side, united in a common goal, rebuilding the city of peace, the city of God.

    Somewhere in all of this is what we are about as followers of Jesus - imagining a different world order, taking risks in relationships, valuing each other, learning with and from each other and building a living temple, gathering in all who will come around a table to share in a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.

    Not quite what I had in mind when I came up with the title, but perhpas it's the long term image that inspires us to use our gifts and skills more intentionally in the service of God.


  • The Harvest of our Labours (Part 1)

    This morning, we begin "eight days of harvest" (an idea that came to me this week!) with 'the harvest of our labours'.  I will post more later, but for now some thoughts that came to me this morning...

    It's never a bad thing to pause and take stock, and one thing that a festival such as harvest does is give us permission for precisely that... what is the 'harvest' of the last twelve months in our own lives?

    Harvest measured not materially, in how much money we've earned or how many 'things' we have achieved be it goals met, projects complete, promotions gained, etc. but more abstract, such as memories made, love deepened, discoveries made, hope renewed.

    My harvest is one of 'less' and of 'more...

    Less clutter  - it's been hard work, but so worthwhile, so liberating and invigorating

    Less grumps, less worry and less over-reflecting - helped in no small measure by sertraline, and only one recent outing of the Menopausal Monster (I think a blend of sleep deprivation and a massive hormone shift, well that's my excuse)

    More reading - oodles of novels, biographies and even some proper theology

    More creativity - trying new things in new ways

    More security and settledness - definitely feeling more settled than a year ago, and more secure in myself, despite no longer having any sense of national identity, and deciding it doesn't matter anyway.

    For all of these, for the people who have shared my year and for the joy the clepto kitties bring me, I am truly thankful