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  • It all depends which way you look...

    Yesterday evening, I was chatting with a few other ministers, and one of them remarked, half in jest, that I live and work in the posh part of Glasgow. That rankled as it does with anyone in our church - we aren’t posh, we are privileged and we know the difference.

    Today I deliberately turned left rather than right out of my front door for my permitted exercise. This takes me very quickly to areas of social housing, some of which is high rise.

     I took the photo above and turned 180 degrees on the spot to take this one too - it all depends which way you face what you will see. In any community wealth and (relative if not absolute) poverty coexist in close proximity.


  • Low Sunday - in Name Only

    It's Sunday, and I have settled in to the 'new routine' that goes with lock down.

    I get up, a little after 6 a.m., feed the cats, and then walk up to our church premises for the weekly security check (in the 'olden days' it's something that two of us would do together after church, albeit more thorough than what I now do alone).  I make a point of looking around me, admiring flowers in gardens, children's painting in windows and, increasingly, chalk marks on pavements.  Today I focused on fences and railings - there are some lovely examples of wrought iron in the west end, as the photo illustrates.

    I am loving being more intentional about my walks, not just thinking 'that's nice', but pausing to take photos (hopefully the police won't object!) and picking a theme each time.  This purposeful looking lifts my spirits, and makes me glad.

    Once home, I have breakfast, listen to the Radio 4 service (most excellent from Holy Trinity, Platt, in Manchester today) and then go into my office to set up church.  Yes, even in this new world, there is set up to be done... A stack of music books to raise my laptop to the required height so that the camera doesn't focus on my nostrils, lots of links open on my laptop and smart phone, and the dial in details written out just in case the technology glitches (as glitch it quite often does!).  Papers ready, tea made, water glass filled... pause, breathe, and wait for to start letting people in from the 'waiting room.'

    I love watching people wave as they arrive (or leave) and seeing more and more little tiles pop up on the screen.  I love hearing the different voices of those who take part in the service.  I love sing-a-long-o'-us as we play in recordings from services past to sing with.  It feels very real - because it is very real! I love that most people stay for 'coffee and chat' even if there's no coffee, and especially as they get allocated to groups by the software!   This, too lifts my spirits and feels good.

    Then it's all over, time to convert the format of the recording and upload to a cloud for our tech folk to edit, to put the music books back in the shelf, send a few emails, shut down the laptop and get lunch.  And lunch is so early!  Not a snack scrabbled together sometime around 2 p.m. but a leisurely meal taken in my newly created 'chill zone' in the kitchen where kitties snooze and the sun warms my shoulders, all done by 12:30.

    I have always loved Sundays, in their busy, demanding form, and I love them just as much in this new form, no less demanding and differently busy.  Low Sunday?  No.  Pews Empty Sunday (a new one on me, thanks KF)? Not it!

    And now, gentle reader, I will post this and go and chill with kitties until it's time for the BUS evening Prayer Stream at 7 p.m.!

  • Thirty Years...

    Wednesday 18th April 1990 was a bright spring day (at least it was in Knutsford where I worked).  It was the Wednesday after Easter, and the morning passed, completely unremarkable, as I sat at my desk working on some aspect of safety or risk assessment for some power station or other - probably Heysham 2 or Torness. At lunch time I went for my usual walk around the block, probably with colleagues, though I don't recall that detail.  Returning to my desk came a phone call to tell me that my Dad had just died, in Northampton General Hospital.  It wasn't a surprise - we had been told six weeks earlier that his prognosis was 4 - 12 weeks - and it wasn't a shock.  It wasn't even, at the time especially sad, because he was finally free from pain, drug induced hallucinations and loss of dignity.

    Saturday 18th April 2020 is also a lovely sunny spring day, and it's the Saturday after Easter.  I am sat at my desk in Glasgow, finalising preparation for a Zoom talk about 'Life Events during the Covid19 Pandemic', have a support call to make and  a couple of emails that I need to respond to.  Remembering isn't especially sad, though it is significant.

    I have found myself wondering what either of my parents would have made of Coivd-19 had they been alive - and been glad they didn't have to live with this strange new world, which would, I think have proved hugely difficult for them to cope with.

    So I pause, and I remember, and I am grateful for my parents, imperfect as they undoubtedly were, whom I loved, and who loved me.


  • Clapping for Carers

    Apoloiges, loyal reader, I have been very remiss in not posting anything for a few days - lots of phone calls and Zoom meetings, and not much of interest to share.

    Anyway, for loyal Gatherers, this 'screen shot' from BBC iplayer showing last night's Reporting Scotland 'clap for carers' includes a couple of familiar faces.

    I had no idea the BBC were there, but was looking out of my window (this street can be seen from my flat) listening to the pipes and clapping too!

  • Glory in Grey...

    According to the weather App on my smartphone, sunrise in Glasgow was 06:18.  Either it lied, was mistaken, or the sun didn't get the memo.

    When I set out at about 06:15 it was already light, that milky-grey slithering from darkness to light without the intervening glory of sunrise.

    One of my favourite contemporary morning hymns is Kathy Galloway's 'Today I awake, and Christ is before me' which speaks of the dawn as 'glimmers of gold or glory in grey.'

    Perhaps today the Easter hope is just that: 'glory in grey.'

    Two hours later, the sky is still silvery-grey, no sign of the sun... The corny play on words of sun and Son, that at sunrise the Son rises, maybe also works here... no sign of the sun, or of the Son, but both have risen.