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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life - Page 6

  • Mysterious Ways...

    This morning was my first scheduled Care Home Chaplaincy (1/80 time) session.  I was tempted to postpone it - what if it triggered an unhelpful grief reaction. I thought about what my Mum would have said - which was to pull myself together and get on with it - so I went.

    And I am very glad I did, because I had a lovely, fun morning, meeting people of all 'stripes', some of whom wanted prayers and others who didn't, some who chatted and others who said, 'not today'.

    My two hours flew past.  I booked in my sessions for the rest of the year and left with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.

    I don't like the expression 'grief work', but if part of what it looks like for me is 'caring for others who could so easily have been my mum' then I am more than happy to roll with it!

  • Assembling in Peterborough

    Rather belatedly, some thoughts on the BUGB-BMS Assembly in Peterborough

    For me, this year, Assembly was a welcome distraction from the 'not-quite Holy Saturday' experience of travelling down following my mother's sudden death and not being able to register that until the coroner had agreed a PM wasn't needed.  Seeing many friends from across the UK (mostly England and Wales, a few from Scotland) was good, and is always part of what it's all about.

    I absolutely loved the music used in worship - songs in many languages and of many styles. No 'worship band' but keyboard, drums (very skilfully employed for once) and singers of several ethnicities from one church.  Beautiful, meaningful, authentic.

    In order to give us the opportunity to attend two serminars - with an excellent choice - the plenary had been pared back more than ever, and the addresses so short that they were unable to develop the ideas.  One phrase I loved, and which stuck is that "we are NOT called to be be bouncers for the Kingdom"... not for us to decide who is in/out, nor to protect the institution from those we deem not quite 'nice'.  Challenging stuff.

    Of course I had some niggles, and via the wonder of Twitter, expressed them.  Of course some things have to be re-learned with every new set of people 'up front'.  Of course it wasn't perfect.

    The photo above shows myself and a friend marking the centenary of ordained Baptist women in ministry in England and Wales, by wearing tee-shirts we bought from the USA Network of Baptist Women in Ministry.  According to R, I am her 'pioneering friend', so when, during the closing worship, there was an invitation for those who believed themselves to be in pioneering ministries to put their hands up whilst someone from the front prayed, I did... even though it's not my thing or my style.

    As Baptists we don't get everything anywhere near right, and sometimes we get things very, very, wrong but I firmly believe that God loves us, calls and equips us for works of service in many ways and many places.

    After Assembly, a small group of us went for a meal.  We rocked with laughter. We shared sorrows.  We were communion in pasta and fizzy water. Then we scattered, some to hotels, some home, some to stay with friends... and it was good.

  • Grief - and Angels - Come in Many Guises

    I am feeling very loved and supported by all the expressions of sympathy, condolence and encouragement that are reaching me by card, email, text, phone etc. I am indeed, very blessed.

    Grief is a strange thing, and as I always say to people for whom I conduct funerals, having affirmed and normalised their feelings, there is only one correct way to grieve - the way that is correct for you. 

    I'm not a crying person (except over cats). I suspect I may be mildly 'on the spectrum' as my emotional responses are certainly far away from the 'median, mean or mode'. And those things are OK, even though it can lead to my grief responses being misread or misunderstood, and even though the misunderstanding sometimes hurts as deeply as, if not more than, the grief itself.

    This morning as the challenges of funeral organising reached their peak, I became very, very aware that not only are my ways of grieving utterly different from my siblings,  trying to hold the resultant tensions can prove too much even for me! The important thing is that we got there, and everyone's key needs will be met.

    I have done almost all the practical stuff for now, and as I sat in my favourite Social Enterprise, suddenly came an overwhelming weariness that wasn't just tiredness from the travel or from holding it together, just a deep-rooted soul-weariness that, I think is how my grief is expressing itself.  And I am more than content to sit with that heaviness, in my own space, with my kitties for company, knowing that I am surrounded by a cloud of angels who come in many guises.

    I think 'angel' is an over-worked term, but in it's proper meaning as messengers of good news, of hope, whose timing is impeccable, then many of my human friends and acquaintances have been, and are being, angelic.  The lovely cards with carefully chosen words; the emails with beautiful, thoughtful poems; these perhaps are not so unexpected, yet their significance is huge.  There are also the unexpected ones, such as the lovely people at the end of the phone for the NatWest helpline and the branch manger in Glasgow... just the simple phrase 'I'm sorry for your loss' carries so much healing power (especially when the registrar recording the death didn't even introduce herself).

    The 'last act of love' I can give my Mum is the funeral she requested, and, whilst that is a challenge in many ways, I will do my utmost to ensure it happens.