Yesterday I spent 10.5 hours out of the house in order to attend a 4 hour meeting. That is something I don’t mind doing because of how passionately I believe in the cause I was supporting. The meeting was the board of Frontier Youth Trust, an organization I have been involved with for more years than I can remember. If anyone is involved in work with young people on the margins then FYT is an organization I would commend to you – if you follow this link you can check out the website and sign up for a newsletter. We are currently looking for a Treasurer to join the Board so if you have those sort of gifts and may be interested then do get in touch with me (email@example.com)!
The picture for this blog is the front of a small booklet which has details of some of their resources. One of the pages is devoted to this liturgy of hope which was co-created at one of the gatherings of practitioners:
Finding Hope in a Famine of Hope
There is a heavy weight upon us.
Austerity is around us
People are hungry
and we are in a famine of hope
It’s a struggle to get out of bed
While others have no place to rest their head
I will climb into the pit with you
Will you climb into the pit with me?
And we will find each other there
As we descend into our memories
We will remember when…
(Take the time to remember moments of hope)
And we will remember that,
hope is dangerous,
So we will Hope dangerously
Carry each other
Shake each other out of our despair
Hope will lift us out
This reminds me of the sort of thing we share around the fire on Easter Saturday at Hodge Hill. FYT offer hope to workers who are present in challenging situations with young people that often the church isn’t working with.
As I was driving to work I listened to Allison Pearson give an excellent tribute to David Cassidy on Radio 4 Today, that was when the tears began to form in my eyes – I had heard the news several hours earlier but on my own was okay. Got a tiny glimpse of collective grief and felt a little less strange at still having a soft spot for him so many years on – not a cool idol. What particularly stood out as she talked was how he was unmasculine and unthreatening so was a safe person to love. This was a fascinating insight that I will reflect on a little more with regard to my teen heroes, it had never crossed my mind. I had a big poster of Marc Bolan on my wall too… It is probably less the case with may fascination with some of the great fast bowlers at that time, sport being one of my great loves throughout my life!
I am always interested in how our idols shape us as children and young people and what that means for those of us involved in youth work. Did liking Marina on Stingray have anything to do with being an introvert?! I tended to identify with people who had similar colouring to me – the brunettes not the blonds. I have written elsewhere about how images of Jesus have shaped me and they have probably shaped me more profoundly than anything or anyone else but perhaps the difference there is that I can have an active relationship with Jesus but my idols I could only gaze on from afar.
However I did love the singalong at the David Cassidy concert 5 years ago – like many I could remember all the words and when he paid tribute to Davy Jones and sang Daydream Believer I wasn’t even a teenager, I was a child again…
One of those rare occasions where I have changed my blog because of something that has happened…
I saw this picture yesterday as I was at Youthlink – the organization where CYM in Ireland are based. I looked twice. I thought it looked interesting and then looked again to see what it said. Round the face is one of the Bible verses that is significant to me (Romans 12.2). There are so many ways in which we are encouraged to conform but as I have got older it has been easier to resist the siren voices that would seek to get me to make choices, or value, or think or do or say something which isn’t actually me but is what others may expect etc. I have always liked the J B Phillips translation of this verse:
Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within…
That would make a great picture if I were a little more artistic in that way. I have no idea who painted this or why or what the prompt or task was but I am grateful for something that made me look twice and reminded me of my calling.
Just before 9pm last night I sent off the manuscript of our edited book on paediatric chaplaincy to our editor at Jessica Kingsley. I had promised it by the end of October – I had a whole three hours left! Those of us who have been in one of the Myers Briggs sessions that Paul and I run will know that this is much too close to comfort for me! Earlier in the evening I had been doing the last few tweaks that were needed which involved finding more references, typing out the wording on the back of a t shirt and a couple of other things!
It has been an immense privilege to help edit this book. There are so many practice examples in it and one or two stories haunt me, this is one of them: It is from an activity done by a teacher in a school but makes a powerful point about family systems and metaphors (one of my favourite ways of communicating):
My family is the Solar System.
My younger sister is the sun.
She is very bright, but everything always has to revolve around her.
My stepdad is the moon.
He comes out at night to do his job, but come day he is nowhere to be found.
My mom is the stars.
She is always everywhere; she knows your business front and back.
She also lights up the sky whenever the moon has gone into hiding.
My oldest sister is Pluto.
She stayed around and put up with the other planets for a while, and then she just left.
I, well, I am Neptune.
I am farthest from everyone, and I am usually the little planet who is cold and alone.
This blog is called part 1 not because part 2 will follow shortly but reflects that I am not finished yet – there will be editorial queries, proofs and lots of bits and pieces to sort before the book is published, hopefully in May next year.
Last time I was teaching research methods with MCYM’s wonderful third year students we had a discussion about witting and unwitting evidence as a concept to consider. Unwittingly, if you are a Facebook friend you might think I have a thing about food and the sea as I post a lot of pictures of both! Thus you might not be surprised if you come across this blog via social media to see this picture.
I paid £3 for the loaf that was used to make this bacon sandwich. Now there is a bit of me which goes wow, that’s a lot of money to spend on bread. But it is less than a pint of beer and about the same as a large coffee made with decent beans. Now I appreciate that I am at a stage in life where I can afford to spend that amount of money on what may be regarded as an essential but in choosing to do so I am also making choices that are in line with my values. The bread is from the Littlebakehouse in Launceston, they recently won an award from Cornwall Life as best independent retailer – I voted for them. In buying this loaf I am contributing to a local (to our holiday) business, facilitating local employment and eating something which is healthier for me, easier to digest and very tasty. I am becoming more mindful of the choices I make over food and many of them are not as ethical as this and I am being challenged to be more mindful over my food choices and the broader consequences those decisions may have.
Yesterday I got an unexpected email from a student with some really encouraging feedback from my teaching that day. We do an exercise that takes me a long time to prepare every year but it is a vital element of the task. I was so blessed.
At a recent Northumbria group meeting we had space to reflect on our rule and rhythm of life and one of the things I wanted to do was a monthly random act of some sort and I am keeping it up. I would have liked to have said weekly but I might forget and it could turn into a should and that would lose a dimension of being an act of grace.
I am posting this message from Lavender Kelley, the President of the American Pediatric Chaplains Network, as it offers far more eloquently that I can a perspective on the tragedy in Las Vegas:
We are pained by the tragedy in Las Vegas and send our prayers and healing intentions to all the victims, their families, first responders, and healthcare providers.
We are especially aware of the spiritual and emotional impact that such an event can have on the children in our lives—children of the victims of this terrible shooting, both directly and indirectly, as well as children that hear about these events in the media and wonder about how it affects themselves, their family and friends, the world around them and how it affects what they believe about the Holy and humanity. Truly, this incident is one that will have ripple effects far into the future. All of us will be touched in some way because of the insidiousness of gun violence and the way it breeds hopelessness. Unfortunately, we have witnessed this on a daily basis in too many places. Moreover, this tragedy comes at a time in our country when communication and support have grown increasingly difficult because of social and political polarization. Yet, it is in the midst of that pain and hopelessness that chaplains must bring light.
Our answer must be to hold on.
We must hold onto one another, hold onto hope, hold onto relationships, and hold onto love. We must make our arms wider and help others learn to hold on as well. Our faith practices and calling as a chaplain compel us to this. We must tend to one another so that we can return to our work full of vitality.
While I am not a chaplain, I resonate with this final paragraph, there are many other tragedies at the local personal or community level as well as more nationally and globally. We need hope and we need to learn more about how we help each other hold on.