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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life - Page 4

  • Vaccinated

    On Tuesday I was doubly grateful to the NHS, as in the afternoon I had a mammogram and in the early evening my first Covid vaccination.

    The vaccination centre was a really positive experience, with friendly, helpful staff to show the way, adminster the vaccine and see that you got out again!

    A few hours after being jabbed, the side effects began to kick in, a sure sign that my immune system is doing exactly what it's meant to do and producing antibodies.

    In gratitude, I twinned my vaccine, through one of many online appeals, to help ensure that people in other lands have access to the vaccine too. At an upper donation level of £30 for two doses, it's clear the vaccine isn't exactly expensive.

    Still a bit below par two days on, but so well worth it, not just for me, but for all with whom I will come into contact in the months ahead.

  • E-ssociating and Zurch...

    Yesterday afternoon, I joined around 400 people online to attend the funeral of a mutual friend, whom most of us, myself included, had only ever known online, through social media. Dr Bex Lewis described herself as a 'digital disciple' and was already part of 'virtual communities' long before the pandemic forced the rest of the world to play catch-up.  Although less developed or sophisticated, I have for around a decade enjoyed online friendships with people I have not met in 'real life' (a phrase Bex objected to, arguing that all life is real).

    Today we held our 51st Zurch (Zoom Church) service - or 'virtual church' as we more formally refer to it.  It was a joint service which I co-led with friends from a Baptist church in an island community off the West Coast of Scotland.  And it was very real.  Multi-voiced, multi-cultural and richly authentic (if I say so myself) it was wonderful... And something that would have been impossible to do 'in the flesh'.  I really hope that, as 'in person' or 'embodied' church becomes possible again, we will see that as a part of 'Zurch' not a replacement for it.  Today we had readers in different UN defined nations, and shared communion across the Atlantic Ocean - this is church, this is Zurch, and I don't want to lose it!

    Another word that emerged only this week in an online meeting of Baptist ministers was 'e-ssociating' - electronic/online associating.  Baptists so love to talk about how we 'associate', that we are interconnected even though autonomous, but in practice it doesn't always work that well.  Geographical groupings and theological groupings have their place, but are often, in the end, institutionalised  and lose their essential, relational heart.  During lockdown, e-groups have emerged that transcend geogpraphy and even aspects of theology, as intentionality, diversity and mutuality become new drivers.  I hope that this, too, continues, not at the expense of 'embodied' 'local' association, but as well as.

    As we near a full year online, and start to ponder what the much anticipated 'beyond' might look like, I really hope that e-ssociated Zurch might be part of it!

  • More joy!

    Yesterday I was overjoyed to receive a date for my final 'cancer patient' mammogram before I drop into the routine screening programme.

    Today I was equally delighted to receive an appointment for my first Covid-19 vaccination (I may be in group 6 (CV), as I get a flu jab on the same basis,  or I may be in group 8 (55-59) but either way, it's wonderful news).

    So on 9th March I will be squished and stabbed both courtesy of our wonderful NHS.

    Humbled and happy.

  • A Surprisingly Significant Moment

    This morning, after I got home from my daily walk, and before I had breakfast, I took my last ever Tamoxifen tablet.  Of course I knew this day was coming, had even been counting down to it, but didn't know how it might/would feel to be here.

    I was surprised how significant it felt.  Indeed, having snapped the photo above, I paused for a minute or two to reflect, with gratitude on this simple, inexpensive drug that has protected me for a full ten years.

    Gratitude to the scientists who developed it.

    Gratitude to the women who took part on clinical trials.

    Gratitude to the licensing authorities that approved it.

    Gratitude to the NHS who prescribed it.


    I also took a moment to call to mind those absent friends for whom it was unsuitable or ineffective... too many women taken far too soon by a cruel unpredictable disease.

    I took a moment to call to mind those friends/acquaintances who will never reach such a milestone, because, whilst treatable, their cancer is incurable.

    I took a moment to call to mind those friends/acquaintances who aspire to a similar milestone moment.


    To have reached this place, to cease to be classed as a 'cancer patient' (at least in a few weeks following one last mammogram, the appointment for which also arrived today) feels quite special and very privileged.  Of course, I will always be subject to 'with your history' provisos and protocols; it is still entirely possible the cancer will come back to bite me; but for now I feel very blessed and very grateful.

  • Lent Reflections - 5 - Daffodils!

    This morning's early walk included the first sightings of daffodils (other than bunches in shops).

    Sometimes known as Lent lilies because of when they flower, they really do herald the spring with their cheerful heads nodding in the breeze.

    These, and others I saw today, are miniatures, the tiny little ones that bloom whilst the standard sized ones are still tightly furled in green protective layers and reaching for the sun.

    Perhaps we all need some miniature daffodils, small, early signs of hope that assure us brighter days are coming.

    We are already a sixth of the way through Lent!  Whether it is 'going well' or it's a 'hard slog' at least we can share the joy of the daffodils along the way.