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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life - Page 7

  • The First Day...

    Today we enter an indeterminate period of lockdown.  It's the correct thing to be doing.

    This morning I have been receiving oodles of emails to tell me things are cancelled, and a small number of meetings are moving online.

    I have been telephoning members of our church to check-in and update them.

    During the course of one such chat, the idea emerged that maybe I could post something cheery each day, not indenial but to give myslef and others a much-needed boost. I recalled that for the four months of my chemo, I intentionally looked for a 'thing of beauty' every day, and it certainly helped me.

    So, I'll give it a go - a nice image, a funny story, some gallows humour... something each day.

    Today is manic, it's half over and my to do list grows apace... so it's just a 'gif' I stole from the web... some biscuits iced with the word 'love'.  I see lots of love in my little church just now, I am so proud of everyone, and I hope that there will buiscuits today and any time in the days ahead they are needed.

  • Social Distancing (Physcial Separation) NOT Social Isolation... and other thoughts

    Back  in 2010-11 I had to practice social distancing for roughly nine months whilst having cancer treatment.  I was lucky, I work alone, so could  still go into my office, and by physical distancing could still be part of Sunday worship.  I knew who I was in contact with and where they had been - and still recall with amusement the evening service where an internationally renowned oncologist came and sat next to me with a streaming cold - I wasn't impressed, and he did move when I asked him to!

    Physical separation is effective in reducing risk of physical illness.  It is not the same thing as social isolation, which is a bad thing.

    Social isolation is when you have insufficient or ineffective contact with other humans.  I didn't experience that during my cancer treatment, but I have experienced it.  It is pernicious and damaging, eroding well-being and mental health.  It possibly increases the risk of suicide in vulnerable people.

    A few thoughts...

    Firstly, as a church we are working out how to achieve helpful and effective risk reduction by social distancing without introducing or increasing social isolation.  As part of this, I plan to phone everyone in our church directory once a week just to say 'hello'.

    Words matter.  I see references to 'social isolation' when 'social distancing' is intended.  I hear comments about 'foreigners' and 'they Chinese' or other ethnic group - this is not helpful or accurate; we are all people, all image bearers if God, and all trying to get through this... 'othering' is not helpful,in fat it's destructive and damaging.  I will try to choose my words carefully.

    My decisions may be different from yours, and that's OK - it's what motivates those decisions that might need reflection... how does my choice impact you, or your vulnerable relative?

    Remember those who are work in healthcare and those who work in shops... remember cleaners, remember postal workers, bus drivers and bin people... we are interconnected, and we all matter.

    Take care, stay safe, wash those hands and don't hoard!

  • Carrot Diagram...

    Yesterday at church I mentioned the 'carrot diagram'. It reminded me that in my Baptist college interview, 21 years ago, I chose this model as a discussion topic for 'introduce and lead a discussion on a topic of your choice' session. As the good book says, 'nothing is wasted!'

    The top, red bit of the carrot is a risk that cannot be tolerated and whatever the cost it must be reduced.  Or, to put it another way, if we 'do nothing' this is the level of risk - is it acceptable?  No it isn't, so we must do something.

    The bottom, green (cyan) bit is a risk that we can all agree to live with.  In practice most risks cannot be totally eliminated but this is the area where it really isn't going to be justified to do any more to reduce the risk - it's no more than the risk we live with everyday anyway.

    The middle, orange/amber bit is where we are at the moment in relation to corona virus - but please hear me, the risk is NOT tolerable unless/until we have put in place all reasonable measures to reduce it.  What the carrot says, effectively, is the closer it is to red, the more that needs to be, and is justified to be, done to reduce the risk.  As we get closer to the green area, what looks like proportionate effort may well be less.

    Simplistic example...

    People need to cross a busy road with a 70 mph speed limit.

    Do nothing, leave it to people to judge when it's safe - unacceptable, must do something

    Options... build a footbridge, dig an underpass, install a pedestrian crossing... all should reduce the risk, some are dearer than others, all introduce other risks (e.g. people dropping stones from footbridge). 

    There may not one 'right' solution, someone has to make a call (usually based on financial considerations) as to what is a 'good enough' option.

    Back in the day I did risk assessments for two notionally identical power stations.  The utilities made different choices about some operating practices; it wasn't one right, one wrong, it was two justified but different options.  So it's tricky - and we can never go back and repeat the events with a different set of choices.

    Please pray for the people who are making tough decisions about how best to manage an incredibly complicated situation - they are people too, and may well have sleepless nights as they do there job (I certainly did back in the day).

    For the record, Torness & Heysham 2, and Hunterston B operated safely on my watch!! And there were times when I said 'no' to my customer...


    PS - washing your hands with soap and water is cheap and effective in reducing risk... so do it!

  • Service Recordings...

    One of the wonderful things about our church is that we post audio of almost all services online, so anyone unable to get out to church can pick a service and listen... there are hundred to choose from!!

    Click here and enjoy...

  • Well-being...

    The word that strikes me at the moment is 'well-being' which include physical health, but is so much more.  Indeed, it is possible to have 'well-being' and be physically unwell, or to be physically well and not have it.

    At the moment we are working out the best way forward for our church community - a good, caring and sensible group of saints-in-the-making - during a time of uncertainty.

    It's likely that we will have to move worship 'on line' for an indeterminate period.  It's also the case that we will be looking out for each other as best we can - perhaps with virtual small groups, perhaps with small real world meets, perhaps with walks, perhaps with practical help such as shopping.  In all of this, we are trying to look out for each other and to keep well, whatever that means.

    We will follow closely the advice of the Scottish Government, we will listen to the Baptist Union(s), Health Care Professionals and other wise people.  We will manage risk as best we can, and we will try to care for each other's well-being - which might sometimes look unusual.