Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pop


My Grandfather died early this morning.

I have so many good memories of him. He and Gran used to (and I'm sure she still does) pray for every one of their children, children-in-law and grandchildren each morning. That's 24 people, before you start on all the other stuff they prayed for. The list was pinned on the wall.

I remember him taking me and my brother Joe for walks each time we visited their Devon home. The walks were a rare 'get away from the parents and little siblings' treat and were meant to increase by 2 miles a year. I think he got a bit goosed at 11 miles and the routine ended!

I remember him making elaborate 'Joe-Anna' - salads, which contained all manner of exciting ingredients. It was the one kitchen indulgence my Gran allowed him!

I remember being thoroughly embarrased by him taking me out for an ice-cream in my early youth and sitting across the table staring intently at me eat, as if I were a long-lost treasure.

I remember welling up when he quoted Hamlet at his 80th birthday do: "There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we may" I think it was. 

I remember he kept this tatty old bit of graph paper pinned to his office wall: I had meticulously coloured all the squares on it during the train journey to visit and he loved it.

I'll miss him. He was good and faithful and incredibly positive and fasincated by life. A founding father, you might say.

Friday, November 20, 2009

goal-oriented

Our culture values people partly on the basis of their productivity.

So, if you're of a certain age, qualification and physical ability you really should be earning, achieving and generally making the people around you feel better. In increasing measures each year.

One of the reasons church is so important is because it doesn't hold to that: people are valued regardless of achievement. So it bugs me when I see churchfolk separating their community into the 'give-ers' and the 'get-ers'.

You're 'off the hook' (or, alternatively, deemed incapable) if you are:
  • old (too frail, too eccentric)
  • a teenager (too likely to leave)
  • a child (not ready)
  • disabled (too much effort)
  • a parent of one or more children (too busy and with better priorities)
  • not necessarily a 'proper' Christian (shock horror - too dangerous!)

You're most certainly on the hook (or capable of so much more) if you are:
  • single (so much time on your hands! - but needs watching as likely to be sexually unstable)
  • full-time working (capable of anything, surely)
  • without children (what else have you got to fill your time with?)
  • deemed intelligent and capable
  • certain in your Christian conviction.
If you're all five, heaven help you! Nobody will know what to talk to you about - except whether you might help serve coffee next week.

I'm being harsh. The churches I've been part of aren't really like that. In fact, it's really me who gets guilty and bored if I'm not busy achieving something or other; who feels affronted if someone else is asked to do something instead of me.

And, church sits in a funny place. We like to qualify time as either 'work' or 'leisure' What is church? Should we be giving or getting from it? How does it communicate its place in our lives?

I guess we should all be giving and getting from our church community. Which is why everyone should be deemed capable of contributing. And no-one should be seen primarily as a resource.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hard Candy

I have just noticed this film is on tonight.

If you're a girl, you should be okay to watch it. It will perturb you somewhat but also hold your attention. I quite enjoyed it. But I am already perturbed (and I had to put a cushion over my face a few times.)

If you're of the other gender, don't watch it. Just don't.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Labelling

I have added 'labels' to my blog which means you can go back and re-read your favourite posts.

Ha! Haven't you been wishing that would happen. It's like a revolution in your life, isn't it.

And I'm sure you'll find it hard to believe that my most common label, after 'diary style' (posts about what's happening in my life) is 'me'. My favourite topic is myself! What a testament to my character that is.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Remembrance and Loss – a meditation on Psalm 137

I wrote this for a remembrance event at church. It is also posted on my other blog, which is rather frugally updated!!



By the Rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.

We have not been to Zion. And yet in our deepest being we feel something like a memory of it – a longing for a hidden kingdom. A memory of a place where we belong. And we weep for its loss.

By the Rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our harps.

Is it possible to be creative in the face of loss? At times, we give up on life and worship. In pain, bereavement, betrayal, illness, abuse, loneliness, shattered hopes.

We want to live and play our music. We long for healing.

By the Rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our harps.
For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying: ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’

We feel weak and guilty – mocked, at times. Sometimes, we are victims of circumstance. Sometimes, the mess is our own doing. So easily we let ourselves be overrun by selfishness, deceit, suspicion and greed. We feel like a joke, sometimes.

Forgive us. We do not want our songs of praise to seem ridiculous.

By the Rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our harps.
For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying: ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

This land is kind to most of us. But our brothers and sisters live at war and risk of death; burdened by corrupt governments; alone – forgotten; in pain, unable to be fully themselves; abused, bullied, persecuted or threatened – living in fear; dying from lack of food, medicine, clean water or shelter. We remember them and ask what we can do to free them to sing your song again?

By the Rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our harps.
For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying. ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!

Our heritage is the stories of Adam and Eve; Noah; Abraham; Moses; Jacob; David. Betrayal, greed, violence. Creation, mercy, rescue. We want to tell these stories in our own voices, our own language We want to feel part of this heritage. We want to pass your memory on.

By the Rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our harps.
For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying. ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

It is so long since you walked among us. Since Moses saw your face. Since your prophets shouted your words.
And so we forget. We eat, work, maintain comfortable lives, fight our little battles. Build a safe corner for you. Remind us, whatever it takes, that we are a waiting people: a people not of this world. A people whose God gives them meaning.
And may our memories season our days like salt.

By the Rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our harps.
For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying. ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.
Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem’s fall, how they said, ‘Tear it down! Tear it down! Down to its foundations! O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us! Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!

We are ashamed this Psalm ends with such violence – is it in us too?

Perhaps not - but we are good at subtler cruelties: desiring others’ pain or humiliation; fascinated by others’ suffering; gossiping about misfortune; careless with the hearts of those who love and trust us; wilfully ignorant of our suffering neighbours. Obsessed with protecting ourselves at all cost; accepting of revenge; lacking your compassion.

You died in protest against our fear-driven violence. Most of all, we want to remember you. Your determination not to give into the ways of this world. The hope you offer in our darkest moments - because you knew darker and overcame.

We do not want to forget you.

We do not want our song to end in darkness.