One of my teenage memories of my mum is a strong one. This is some of the history, the back story that you need to know. Because my birthday is bang on the first of September, when I was at junior school it was realised I had started school a year early. The education systems solution to this was to insist I did an extra year at junior school or secondary school. I chose to do the extra year at the end of secondary school, my reasons I vaguely recall was that I did not want all my friends to leave me behind and more powerfully, they might forget or change their minds in 5 years time. They did not!
So after I was half way through year 5 (11 in today’s money) again, I applied to catering College. Even though I knew this is what I wanted to do the year before, I was told I could not apply until the year I would start. So when I applied the next year I was told the course was full and there was no room for me! I was very upset as cooking was the only thing I enjoyed and had done poorly academically at everything else (my dyslexia had not even been considered and I was just perceived as being not that bright naturally or the consequences of a council estate one parent family) . My mum had a different response, she went loopy, hit the ceiling, came down and then went up again. She went straight on the phone to the college and demanded that I had an interview . I think she must have frightened the course director and I was offered an interview, to which my mum came. The outcome was that I was exactly the type of student the course wanted and they offered me a place!
Two years later I was awarded top student of my course, runner up top student for the whole college and had been offered a job as a chef at the Savoy Hotel in London. Where and how might I have ended up had my mum not done that for me? To have intervened, advocated in the light of unfortunate circumstances or unfairness? Who knows? So let’s be thankful to all those people in our lives who have offered this type of support and intervention. Maybe it has been a parent , youth worker, pastor, partner, friend, professional… And let’s continue to model and imitate this advocacy for those who need a voice, an intervention, it’s what my mum would do!
An apt picture for a week like this one. I took this last Saturday at IKEA struck by the importance of it. Yesterday I was doing a bit of teaching on human development with Chaplains at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and we looked at how an understanding of theory informed the work we did with them. We talked about the importance of play as a way of processing so much of the experience, of how interventions might enable children to work towards the positive element of Erickson’s conflicts and how action, image and symbol can be significant at different stages of development. A high 5 is more than just a bit of fun…
It isn’t for the moment you are struck that you need courage, but for that long uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I am reflecting on loss for Lent. I am not good at loss, I tend to bury it rather than processing it and grieving properly. This quotation is a chapter heading in the book I am reading and resonates with me and reminds me of some of the struggles of friends at the moment too. Emotionally I need to go where I physically go in this picture – I climb the hill to the hermit’s chapel at Rame and I meet God there, it is one of my shelters, my thin places and there are losses that I need to bring to God and acknowledge and grieve.
This morning one of our newer hospital chaplaincy team members, Ruth, led our early morning Psalm Communion breakfast discussion. She read and shared from Psalm 8:
from the lips of children you have ordained praise
you have taught children and infants to tell of your strength.
This verse has been an encouragement for me in my chaplaincy work and while I was watching a recommended video on you tube, I came across this. Enjoy and be nourished from the lips of a child
One of my lovely friends made this for me – I got it a week ago as a belated birthday present. I appreciate all the thoughtfulness that has gone into it. She knows I love seahorses, it is a book cover and most people know how much I love books and it was wrapped in the most wonderful Celtic wrapping paper! She has listened to me over many many years and gave me something to treasure…
I wonder what thoughtful act I can do today….
One of my treats is taking a book into a coffee shop and reading for a while. Yesterday I popped into Eden on my way back from work and before I weighed in at Slimming World. I had thought a friend was there but did have a book. Just as I was about to start reading it the only other person in the coffee shop who had come and sat near me asked if I was there for slimming world.
If you know me in real life you will know I am quite an introvert and reasonably unlikely to start a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop – I will respond but not initiate. What followed was thirty minutes of chat about food, eating patterns, struggles etc. I had a lovely time and was able to take her into the group as it was her first time – I bought her a pack of hi-fi bars too. What is interesting is that somehow Eden is a space where strangers talk to one another – it is not the first time it has happened to me there and I am reflecting on what makes somewhere a talking space, a safe space to interact with strangers…
What are we motivated by?
Hate is nature’s most perfect energy source, it’s endless renewable. Bobby Axelrod
This is a quote from one of our favourite tv series at the moment, Billions. It is about investment speculation in the US, staring Damian Lewis. This is his character’s response to dealing with his enemies.
We heard it as we watched television this week – and sadly it resonated. It feels like every time we listen to the news or look at social media that there is hate seeping out in so many different contexts. I am not sure what I have really hated in my life. But is do recall a few times feeling I had leaning or temptation that way towards a few people and situations. Feelings of justification as I or others have been grieved or from my perspective, sinned against.
As Christians love is our more 360 wholesome, beneficial response. For lent this year I am choosing to think, respond, pray, bless positively for those who actions oppress me and others. It’s hard work, but so far love is heaven’s more perfect, eternal renewable energy source.