Category Archives: musings

Positive lenten thinking

Ok, so I think ee beat me to it in the ‘this is a lenten blog’ stakes. But still, I shan’t let that put me off 😉 I was thinking about wanting to challenge myself this lent, and do something that would both help me to grow as a person, and also maybe help those around me.

Recently, I’ve been less positive than usual, if I’m honest. The job situation gets me down, more than I usually let on. There are *lots* of good things going on in my life as well, and when I remember and notice these, I feel better, lift myself out of it and carry on with renewed enthusiasm. So, this lent, I’ve decided to be positive. To make myself focus on one or two things each day that have been good. A kind of ‘count your blessings’ blog if you like. I know that when I’m feeling ok this will be easy, but harder when something gets me down. I hope that by concentrating on the good stuff, I’ll be reminded of the ways in which life is good right now, and of God’s presence with me through it all. And I might even be easier to cope with for those who take the force of my more negative moments..

So, starting in that vein, yesterday I had a day of work (no, thats not the positive!). I had a good chat over coffee about the start of my studies for the Local Preaching course, which was exciting and not too scary! I spent a pleasant half hour having my hair played with as part of my bridesmaids duties for a certain bride and in doing so managed to have a nice chat with said bride, and see my Godson who is more and more like a littler person everyday- the things I never noticed when I lived under the same roof suddenly amaze me each time 🙂 Oh, and then the other man in my life came all the way over from Brizzle in the evening, bringing me some choccies from home as well as his lovely self, which was very grin-worthy after 3 weeks apart 😀

There, how’s that for a start? I’ll see what today brings, and be back later.

A hazy shade of winter

I like winter. Its pretty much my favourite time of year. I like the cold crisp mornings when you can see your breath. I like the clear blue skies, the dark nights, the snuggling up in warm jumpers and hats and scarves, the cold which makes your nose and cheeks red.

I also like the promise it holds. Yes, you may think I’m mad. Everything is cold and dark, the ground frozen, the trees bare. It barely gets light before its dark again, and in between often its cold and damp and miserable. But its in this very darkness and hopelessness that the promise lies. Its a moment when anything can happen, and you don’t quite know what it will be. When all sorts of things will come out of this emptyness, this darkness, and you just have to wait and see.

This year I’m trying to do that. To be patient. To know, and be convinced, that that frozen earth with yeild something fruitful. It is possible. The last year or two have shown me what can happen when you don’t expect it. I wonder what I’m not expecting this year..

Inspired by a recent post at lightbox.

This is my life

There’s something about packing that makes me think. Or maybe its just getting late.. I’m not moving far, in fact only to the next room, but we have the builders coming to repair (in a ‘it gets worse before it gets better’ kind of repairing) the water damage next week. So since they’re going to relieve me of one of my bedroom walls, I thought it wise to box everything up and get it out of the way of the brickdust.

But when you start to put everything you have into boxes, you suddenly realise the amount of stuff you have to put in boxes, and how many (many many many) boxes are needed. And you find, amongst the dust under the bed and in all those hard to reach corners, all the things that you put there once thinking ‘I’ll see if I need that’, or ‘I don’t want to throw that away just yet’. I’ve heard people recently calling all this stuff clutter, and extolling the virtues of getting rid of it all, and living more minimally. Well, while I might admit I have a bit more stuff than I need, I’m never going to be a minimalist! But whats the distinction between the stuff you really should get rid of, and the things that are important enough to keep? I keep things like concert tickets, birthday cards from special people, pebbles I picked up at a time/place that I want to remember, prayers from a church service that touched me. Maybe this is hoarding, and during this lot of packing I’ve got rid of some things too. But these small things, which to anyone else might be worthless, tell the story of my life, the people who matter to me, and where I’ve been. And for that reason, I think I’ll hang onto them a little longer.

As it was in the beginning?

I recently wrote a bible study for SCM, in connection with this years theme; Small World, which looks at the connections between different parts of the world, and the impacts various changes in the environment will have on every individual, regardless of faith, class or social standing. In this study I focussed on the creation story at the beginning of Genesis.

The theme I was trying to follow was the question of where the creation story ends. The account of creation stops at the end of this passage, but what happens then? God the father, the creator, is beginning and ending, he is ever present, so we are told, so we believe. Does he stop creating at the end of the second verse of Genesis chapter 2?! Reading this passage it is easy to think so; the world came into being, God was pleased, and stopped to rest and admire his handiwork. And that was that. But the world we live in is far from constant. It has changed in many ways, some more rapid and more noticeable than others, and continues to do so. This is something we cannot dispute.

I find it hard to imagine, or to believe in, a God who is involved in the creation of his world over a finite period of time, and then steps out of the picture, having nothing more to do with it as it grows. If we profess a faith in a living, omnipresent God, who listens to and answers prayer, and is ‘pleased’ with his creation, surely this God is actively present in our lives, and consequently, in the evolution and continuing development of this world? And if we accept that God is still creating, changing, shaping our world, then we also, as his creation, as his followers, have a part to play. The creation is documented, in the form of a story (which you may or may not believe to be literally true, that doesn’t matter), in the beginning chapters of the bible. It tells how the earth was formed out of the vacuum of space, something from nothing. Inspiring stuff. But still more inspiring surely, is the possibility that this description of the creation is there to show us the continuing story of which we are part. The first chapter of Genesis tells not the whole story of how the world was made, but the first chapter in the life of this planet. The next chapters are being written now, by you and me.

Girl Power?

Richard posted this on Connexions recently, and, as usual this kind of thing gets me angry. Not so much, as you might expect, at the people who produce these ‘lads mags’, or even the unimaginative and plain ignorant men who buy them, although both groups are not high on my list of favourites. No, the real problem I have with this is with the women who allow it to happen. And its not even just in magazines and ‘news’ papers like these, but in every corner of our lives. Singers, actors, generic ‘celebrities’, they all participate, voluntarily flaunting themselves to sell that next single or raise those ratings.

The justification for a lot of this, as Richard mentioned, is that it promotes the empowerment of women. This never fails to remind me of the catch phrase of a certain all girl singing group of the 90’s; “girl power” was yelled from the stage as they begged you to “tell me what you want, what you really really want”. Empowerment of women? In the shortest skirts and heaviest eyeliner? In flaunting your ‘assets’ in our faces in the hope of increasing record sales? In the need to be sexy, regardless of age or inclination, if you want to get ahead? This is making women stronger we’re told, it shows they can be dominant, and can’t be walked over. If you say so. To me, it says that no matter how talented, intelligent, courageous or strong-minded she is, at the end of the day, a woman is first and foremost a body, and that that is her most important asset.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being pretty, and every woman loves to be considered attractive, but there’s so much more to it than that. A woman’s power lies in her character, her mind, and her strengths and abilities, in the same way as any man. And I’d rather a daughter of mine grew up with that definition of ‘girl power’ than any other.

‘Victory’ for Manchester?

My home town is to become the home to the UKs first ‘super casino’. Manchester doesn’t usually win these things. Not when London is in the picture. Hence the big fuss that was made over the commonwealth games… I don’t know if I’m just missing the point but I find it difficult to see this as the fantastic news it is reported as.

News articles are claiming this as a great step for Manchester, particularly for the area in which this new ‘entertainment complex’ is to be built, which is described as one of the most deprived areas in the country. It will bring jobs into this area, and into the city as a whole, it will be a huge boost to the leisure and tourist industry of Manchester, which in turn will stimulate further regeneration and an overall improvement of this part of the city. I have no doubt that this is true, at least to an extent. The influx of big businesses will always start off a chain reaction with others following.

However, I’m still more than a little skeptical. Yes it will bring jobs, but what about the business that is making this money- which profits at the expense of those who spend their time (and more importantly, their money) in such places. It will encourage further investment and development, but do we want to encourage the sort of development that may follow?! And what kind of ‘entertainment’ will this bring to the city, what message does this send to the people of Manchester, most importantly perhaps to young people? No longer sufficient to have multi-screen cinemas, bowling alleys and fast food restaurants. Now we must place alongside them a huge gambling centre with more than 1,250 ‘gaming machines’, bringing LA to the UK. I dread to think of the message that this sends out, or the effect this could have on the extra-curricular activities of young people in this most deprived area. And this is what we’re told the area is lacking?! Now why couldn’t I see that before…

I am usually proud of my roots, of the city that I grew up in and its heritage. Manchester is a lively, interesting and diverse city, with much to offer, and nothing will ever change that. But I don’t think I will ever be able to stand up and be proud of this. As Rowan Williams said, its sad that the best way we can see of improving deprived areas is to develop these institutions which may well increase this deprivation in the long term.

The Setting

I know this song by Show of Hands, but it was written by the great songwriter Ralph McTell. The song is about saying goodbye and going away. The words of these verses, particularly the last one, say pretty much what I’ve wanted to, and I wanted to share them.

And I never looked back as the train left the station,
Crossed over the roadway and into the park,
And there in a bar an old man was singing,
And I sat there drinking until it got dark.

And above all the stars were all hidden by rain clouds,
The song of the old man still locked in my brain,
And all emigration, the curse of a nation
The setting now fitting his sad sweet refrain.

And above all the roar of the town was the blue sky,
I heard the birds sing for the dawning of the day
And there was no help from the city forthcoming,
Nor sympathy numbing your going away

Ralph McTell