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  • Advance Preparation...

    Later this autumn we are planning to have a short series of services on the theme of 'shame'.  It's an important topic, and the concept of 'chronic shame', which seems to be cropping up a lot in the reading I'm doing, definitely needs some thinking through.

    I have a stack of books - and one audio book - on their way to me relating to this topic, so hopefully by the time we reach November and these services I will be well prepared.

    I'm not sure 'enjoy' is a word I'd use in connection with this reading - some of it cuts quite close to the bone - but it's certainly important and relevant, which matters more, I think.

  • The Annual Reminder...

    23rd August 2010 - a date indelibly etched on my memory.

    It was a Monday.  My Mum was in Oxford John Radcliffe hospital undergoing pioneering heart surgery (with less than 50/50 chance of survival let alone success, amazingly she lived nearly eight years).

    It was a glorious summer day in Glasgow. I had a morning meeting to discuss some financial matters for church. I had an egg sandwich from Tesco for lunch.

    And it was the day that I heard the life-changing sentence, "I'm sorry, it's cancer."

    Eight years on, and seven and a half years NED, the intensity of the memory is far less. 

    I remember it, but it doesn't any longer disturb me. 

    I remember it, and I continue to be grateful for the work of NHS Scotland. 

    I remember, and I give thanks for all those who have journeyed with me since that date.

    I remember, and I do my annual nag to those kind enough to read this blog to do the screening, to check their 'bits 'n' bobs', to report worrying symptoms. 

    Caught early, cancer can be effectively treated - even aggressive, locally spread cancer such as I had.  Bottom line: I have beaten and continue to beat the statistics for the place I started - had I not been breast aware or had I not been proactive in reporting my symptoms, I wouldn't be here to nag.  Treatments continue to improve, prognoses are better. Whilst of course it's not nice being bald or bloated due to chemo, undergoing surgery or being zapped daily for weeks on end, at least I am here to tell the tale.  For the most part, life is good, more than good, it's great, fantastic, brilliant...

    So please, for your own well-being endure the indignity of poo-sticks or smears or squishing or whatever it is... it just might save your life.


  • Summer Series 2018 - Questions to Ponder - Week 7 - We are a Team, Together

    This morning we wrapped up our summer series with a very interactive service (thank you everyone who entered into the slightly whacky aspects).  We reflected on the last three chapters of the letter to the Hebrews, and were then invited to consider, privately, these four questions:

    • What one thing have I heard this summer that encourages me?
    • What one thing have I heard this summer that has challenged me?
    • What one way might I help and encourage myself or others to live out our values as part of Team Gathering Place?
    • What message of hope or encouragement would I like our church to hear today?

    There was an opportunity to write the message of encouragement on a sticky note, and some lovely messages were shared.

    The next few weeks are a different kind of 'all age' and will bridge the transition into 'winter pattern' with songs of praise, world music and commissioning of teams... I'm certainly looking forward to them.

  • Up above the streets and houses...

    My evening walk this evening was all four seasons in an hour, let alone a day!  As heavens opened the most beautiful rainbow appeared, so much so that people stood in the street and snapped photos (obviously I was one of them!).

    I do love rainbows.  I love the tradition that they are the sign of God's promise to creation after the great flood.  I love that they can mean so many things to so many people, that no-one actually 'owns' them.  Rainbows always make me smile, always remind me that there is hope... so what's not to like?

    I am very fortunate to have plenty of pleasant walks on my doorstep - whether riverside, streets, parks or a mixture.  Now I am indoors, the sun is out, the birds are singing their evening songs and life feels positive.

  • A Time to Every Purpose...

    Yesterday was a long day (I was away from home for a good 17 hours).  An important day; a strange day; a needed day.

    I arrived early at the cemetery, knowing that this would give me time to adjust from travelling mode to, well whatever mode it was. Daughter? Minister? Both?  I'm still not quite sure!

    Soon afterwards the gravedigger arrived, he had other plots to prepare, so he too had arrived early.  We got chatting as ministers and cemetery workers do, and it turned out he's worked in that cemetery as a grave-digger since 1990 - so it's almost certain that he had dug my Dad's grave, as a young man, with a spade because little JCB-type diggers weren't common practice back then.  Certainly when I pointed out the nearby grave of one my classmates who had died tragically and very young, he recalled digging that one.  I quite like the idea that he dug my Dad's grave and now, also by hand, had dug the space for my Mum's cremated remains.

    The FD arrived early too, carrying a very smart, plain silver carrier bag inside which was the basket-work casket.  I explained it was just me, that I was happy to place the casket myself and thanked her for all they had done for Mum.  I felt a bit mean, she probably had almost an hour's drive each way for five minutes, but hse seemed OK and was consumately professional.

    So that was that, then.  A few minutes earlier than the official time, I read some scripture, said some words of committal and prayed a blessing, then I popped some flowers in the vase .  The FD came over and back-filled the hole, and I placed a potted rose bush in front of the headstone (which has yet to up altered or replaced).  I thanked him and he left.

    The sun shone, it was a  warm, late-summer afternoon.  I stood looking out across this once familiar place, and thought (briefly) of those I had known who now lay here.

    At the end of the road leading to the cemetery stands the house where I lived from 9 - 18.  Once a council house, it's now long since in private ownership, but apart from the windows and the fence at the side, little seems to have changed.  The hedge at the front - which I spent many hours cutting as a teenager - is still there.  The apple tree remains, and forsythia bush my Dad planted is still growing next to the gate.

    It was a strange day - a long way to go for something that took at most five minutes.  It was an important day - I needed to complete this process, fulfilling Mum's last request. 

    I have no idea if it did whatever I might have hoped or wanted it to do, because honestly I don't know what what I hoped or wanted, beyond a bit of closure or completeness.  Perhaps I wanted some time to be daughter not minister - but the two are not entirely separable after all.

    I am really grateful to the long standing friends I visted afterwards for a cup of tea and a natter before catching my homebound train.

    Before I left, I took this photo of me with the house where I spent those years in the background. 

    westfield road.jpg

    At the time we moved there it was pretty much a 'sink' area, it seems to be remain an intriguing mix of rough-and-ready and aspirational, along with a number of retirement bungalows, and all of it just down from the place where most residents will one day take their final rest. 

    August 8th 1972 we moved into that house (on the right in the photo), 15th August 2018 I said farewell for what is almost certainly the last time.

    As I said on social media, "The girl from Westfield Road hasn't done too bad".


    To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

    The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.