I’m currently on a fortnight’s holiday and to-ing and fro-ing about a bit. A good part of the bank holiday weekend was spent in Cromer having a very relaxed time at a friend’s flat and enjoying the pace of Norfolk life (until the car journey home when my London-style driving is slightly at odds with the meandering Norfolk kind!).
Over the last week I’ve thought of various things I’d quite like to blog about, but without the motivation to actually blog them… for instance the closure of Walthamstow dog track. I join the distraught crowd who wanted it to stay. I’d been hoping to get there for the last Saturday night but unfortunately couldn’t make it. I can’t imagine the North Circular without the glow of the Walthamstow Stadium sign… the place is an institution (in the positive sense of the word!). The following information may bring my parenting into disrepute but when TeenSon was little we used to take him in his buggy, along with a bunch of friends, and spend a fun Saturday night in the ‘cheap’ side of the dogs. Not a huge gambling risk seeing as our bets were of the ’50p to win’ on, for example, number 4 – dog chosen because its name had some peculiar appeal or tentative link with something or other! And we spent TS’s 14th birthday there too – for the first time ever in the ‘posh’ side. And now it’s gone.
And the other thing that caught my attention (rather delayed) this week was the fact that retired athlete Jonathan Edwards has announced himself an atheist. Now I know all this happened sometime last year – but I managed to miss all that and it was only watching a bit of Olympic commentary with TeenSon the other day that I caught up when he said, “he’s not a Christian anymore”. I was rather disbelieving I have to admit, until I resorted to the trusty Google and read the interviews. I really was rather shocked, Jonathan Edwards having been such a visible and ‘public’ Christian. I felt quite sad for him as I read that when he’d retired from athletics he’d discovered quite how much of his identity was wrapped up in the sport and when that was gone other aspects of his identity came into question as well – including the Christian aspect. And it all seemed to unravel for him. Of course, I, along with others, can only speculate on his faith as was and as is now, wondering if this was the first ever real questioning and doubting he’d applied to God, life, the world and all. But I felt sad for him and pray that he’ll keep exploring and questioning. Was he someone who thought that having God in your life made everything ok? Faith built on the ‘rock’ trusts God when the storms are blowing all around, but some seem to acquire a faith that thinks God extinguishes all the storms instead of enabling us to stand through them (and him standing with us in them). One blogger commenting at the time referred to the parable of the sower where the seed sown on rocky ground springs up but because its roots don’t go deep, it doesn’t survive the heat of the sun and is scorched and withers away – equating to a faith that springs up joyfully at first but when trouble or persecution comes the faith also withers away. (Or the seed sown among weeds which is choked by the cares of the world). Perhaps there’s something of this in the experience of Jonathan Edwards… or perhaps not – that’s between him and the God he’s no longer sure of, but I pray that God will reach out and take hold of him once again.
And now I’m off to do more holiday-type things, like read a bit of Cadfael and fall asleep (well I did get back very late last night!).
As a minister who spends most of her waking (and some of her sleeping!) hours thinking about the church and how many people are coming, and if they’re finding it a value place to be, and if it’s a welcoming community, and what songs and hymns shall we sing on Sunday, and are the people getting to know me and me them, and how will I fit it all in, and are the children and young people going to come through with their own vibrant faith despite what we do or don’t do to try and teach and ‘entertain’ them, and who wants to get more involved, and am I praying enough, and is God quite pleased with how I’m doing and how many tables do we need for Alpha, and oh I should wander about and be seen a bit more, and will Mrs soandso be alright with the care package she’s got, and will it be depressingly empty when they all go on holiday, and we need more volunteers for the children and the teens and the outreach and… You know, that kind of thing… It suddenly occured to me today that most people in the congregation have a week, and a life, that runs from after church on Sunday and generally til they walk back in the door again (though of course some of them do a lot of extra stuff for the church too). Hopefully it’s a life that significantly includes God, but they don’t I’m sure spend quite so many waking hours analysing the whole process of worship and church life – most of them just do it… and go home! Now this is a delightful revelation… because all that stuff can get a bit overwhelming sometimes and it’s easy to forget to have a life too – hopefully one that still significantly includes God 😉 but also one that has space for some other stuff too.
What do the churchgoers among you think about all this… what’s beyond the end of the pew?*
*not that we have pews, but ‘comfy chair’ wouldn’t have had quite the same ring there!
Is it just me or do others find they’re taken by surprise every so often when something you remember happening just-a-while-ago turns out to be nearly official history and happened about 30 years in the dimming-and-distancing past?!
I’ve finally got round to sorting out some of the things you just leave in a box to deal with later when you move house. I’ve been going through my LP’s. Yes LP’s – real vinyl proper records – yes, I know, I really don’t look old enough! And with the sorting came the rediscovery of ‘My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’ – a Brian Eno and David Byrne brilliant collaboration. And it all comes flooding back with the record. I can still remember where I first heard it – a shop in Carnaby Street (London) sometime in the Eighties – when Carnaby Street was still a wonderful haven for the bizarre and outrageous and the place I did my clothes shopping – perfect for finding Goth gear, many-buckled boots and all that.
And playing the record again I see it says ‘1981’* and though I reckon I bought it probably nearer 1986 that’s 27 years ago!! Nearly thirty years – but it’s only five minutes since I was young isn’t it? Time is a very strange thing. I look at family photos from when my brother and I were growing up and realise that I’m older now than my mum and dad were then – there’s something wrong with that in the space time continuum! And though I’m still the same inside, on the outside I’m the mum – the one with the nearly 17 year old son.
I suppose God must feel like this quite a lot, I mean, he’s been around rather a long time and seen a few kids grow up.
Perhaps sometimes it’s a better idea to let unpacked boxes lie!
*Ah, 1981 – I was 11 – the year I got my first radio/cassette player for Christmas complete with ‘Chart Hits ’81’ (or something like that) and I’ve still got that tape too!
The cat is asleep on my computer monitor… snoring!
It comes to something, doesn’t it, when that’s the best you can come up with to blog. I suppose, if I were to pinch something along the lines of Dave’s blog categories then that could be listed under ‘mundane’ ‘Essex life’ ‘cat stuff’ and ‘not-very-interesting-at-all’?
…well actually it’s not but that was my random thought of a few moments ago, so that’s what you’ve got. Perhaps I can turn this into a post of random quotes that I can remember off the top of my head? I’m presuming that rather than having simply gone mad it was farli who put random quotes in my head by including ‘The Great Storm’ in a post title… turning my mind of course to ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ and the great storm! “It reminds me of the great storm”…. “Shut up!” Brilliant… my favourite episode!
Unfortunately, now I’ve decided to turn this post in a ‘random quotes’ type direction all the random quotes that usually mill around in my head to amuse me during dull moments have, of course, fallen out of my head*
Oh well, I’ll go and make a nice cuppa tea instead.
*except for ‘the machine that goes “ping”‘ which is always there, but I’ve gone on about that Monty Python delight here before, I’m sure.
Waiting for the kettle to boil (again!) for my hot water bottle (it’s freezing) so thanks to Neil I can now inform you that I am apparently 10.02am!
Well, it’s been a lovely day (and it’s only early evening) and one resembling something like a ‘normal’ Sunday (from what I can remember). Today I’ve taken only one service in my lovely ‘new’ (to me) church (compared with last week’s three services in two churches, a funeral to prepare and a youth group to finish in the evening), then TeenSon and I enjoyed a nice mosey over to Canvey where we walked in the sunshine along the ‘sea’ (Thames) wall. From there we carried on to Southend where we sat and ate nice vinegary chips by the sea on which the sun was also beautifully reflected. And now I’m waiting for the kettle to boil and the turkey roast to cook for our not-had-in-a-while roast dinner. And the evening will be unusually free of preparations for the week ahead as there’s time tomorrow to start that.
Simple things, but contentment. We really do have a lot to be thankful for.
What is the post office coming to? Instead of piles of cards blocking my front door this morning there were two measly bills. Really, I think they should get their delivery service sorted out.
It seems to be quite a while since I last blogged anything, due to the usual combination of nothing interesting to say and not enough time to say nothing interesting! Life has changed quite significantly in the last few months as TeenSon and I settle into our new home town, and I adjust to being Team Vicar instead of Curate, to my new team of collegaues and the new church family – and both of these are great! Despite their greatness it’s still been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster at times as we’ve adjusted to all things new and missed our connections with ‘home’. But NewHomeTown is a down to earth kind of place which suits me just fine and of course even when everything else is turned upside down, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever”… phew!
Our new home is lovely and in a very nice street which is quite a change from the town centre/home-from-pub-route/church hall noise (though still our happy home!) we had before. I have to confess that there are still a few unpacked boxes tucked about the place… but it is only 5 and a bit months since we moved in!
There’s not much more to say really, unless anyone out there wants to know anything in particular (as long as it doesn’t involve breaking confidences/announcing too specifically where we are!)?
Back to my cuppa tea…
…having wandered around the great, the good and the verging on ridiculous of You Tube… and watched Mr. Bean at Christmas, Nelson Mandela on poverty, British humour and Basil Hume I have ended up with this delightful little blast from the past! Who remembers it… who loved it???