Archive for the ‘God’ Category

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photoblog … top ten picks

January 21, 2009

I haven’t shown much commitment to blogging these days. I guess I’m all worded out at the minute and enjoying a time of relaxation and renewal following a rather hectic period of activity which began last September and ended a week ago.

One thing to capture my imagination recently is the photoblog a hint of bergamot.  I look forward to the new daily additions and can’t help be inspired.

Here are my top ten favourites (today).

  1. Glory of Rome
  2. Streets of Old (Aberdeen)
  3. Continental Divide
  4. Where leaders walk
  5. Let there be light
  6. Half moon
  7. Transformers Robots in Disguise
  8. Boats in Anstruther harbour
  9. Rapid
  10. Open Heart

Enjoy!

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memories

October 3, 2008

And when it comes to our feelings, those who have been left behind discover a vast ocean. Sometimes the ocean seems calm and still, and yet the next minute, for no apparent reason, a wave comes crashing over us. At other times the loss is so intense it is like being at sea, out of the sight of land and simply tossed around; and then, sometimes there are moments of quiet and serene beauty as a new truth dawns, and sometimes the grief is so overwhelming that it’s like drowning, and there’s no one to hear our cries (Christopher Herbert).

I’ve been thinking about a baby called Iona this week.

Even though many of us had never seen Iona we got to know her through her uncle Chris and couldn’t help but be amazed at her fight for survival. She was just weeks old. We prayed and waited for news of her progress and thanked God for the occasional glimmers of hope. But it wasn’t to be.

It’s been deeply moving and inspiring to read her uncle’s story and I’m hoping he continues for a short time at least. We won’t forget.  Her funeral will be tomorrow and although she may be gone, in the short time she’s been here, little Iona has made quite an impact. And for that we give thanks.

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Be Still …

September 19, 2008

I’m reminded of God’s presence and stillness today … and peace.  It’s not of our natural world and although I don’t understand it I do know it.

I have been overwhelmed but greatly comforted by that presence in the midst of worry, exhaustion, distress and confusion while watching the broken body of a parent die as her soul is set free. I’ve welcomed it in the aftermath of broken relationships and in the building of new ones. It’s been there in the numbness when realising some people weren’t what I thought. I’ve responded to its prompting in accepting I was loved. That same presence is there as I’ve talked to patients whose physical and emotional scars were a bit too much for me and I’ve sensed the presence in the joy of people believing and hoping tomorrow will be better. In the selfless and tireless efforts of people who want to make a difference it’s there … because they are there.

I’m remembering a few people today and hope that in their seeking to find some answers they will be able to find some peace and hope too.

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The lives they left behind …

September 14, 2008

When the Willard Psychiatric Center, New York, closed in 1995 workers discovered hundreds of suitcases in an attic and uncovered lives long forgotten. Unfortunately living outside the US I won’t be able to see The Willard Suitcase Exhibition but have found the online exhibit The Lives They Left Behind which provides a deeply moving account of people whose lives, once filled with hope and promise and aspirations, were never to be the same again.

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seeing God in one another

September 13, 2008

It was my intention to use a particular story last weekend at youth assembly and I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t because it is perfect. In all the hustle and bustle and recreating it went out of my head.

Like others, I have continued to reflect on the weekend and there were times when we didn’t get it right but that happens, we learn and move on. It’s a new format and there were always going to be teething problems.

In a couple of the sessions we desperately wanted to encourage people to look beyond the labels and stereotypes to see people as they are in their particular circumstances. We wanted to explore the impact of those circumstances on their relationships but also the perceptions that people hold. We wanted to challenge and, to a degree, that’s what we did. But I’m left feeling dissatisfied. I wish we’d done so many things differently that would have allowed a flow of conversation from one session to the other. We lost sight of that when deliverances became our focus.

This story says what we may not have achieved in saying last weekend. It’s about relationships, seeing God in one another and finding God in unexpected places. It’s a beautiful story which I hope you enjoy even if you’ve heard it before.

There was once an old monastery which had lost its inspiration. The same routines were performed as they had always been, but there were no new novices and little enthusiasm for the rites of prayer.

The Abbot saw all this and he grieved. At a loss as to how to change things, he paid a visit to an old hermit who lived in the woods. The hermit welcomed him in and spread the table with bread and cheese and wine. After they had eaten together the recluse addressed the Abbot.

You and your brothers have lost the fire of God. You come seeking wisdom from me. I will tell you a secret, but you can only repeat it once. After that no one must say it aloud again. The hermit then looked deep into the eyes of the Abbot and said, ‘The Messiah lives among you.’

They were both silent as the Abbot considered the import of this saying. ‘Now you must leave’ the hermit said.

Returning to the monastery, the Abbot called all the monks together and told them that he had a teaching which he had been given by God. He added that the teaching was never to be repeated out loud again. Then the Abbot looked at each of his brothers and said, ‘The Hermit says that one of us is the Messiah.’

The monks were startled. ‘What could this mean?’ they wondered silently. ‘Is John with the big nose the Messiah? Or Father Matthew who keeps falling asleep at prayer? Am I the Messiah? But puzzled as they were they never repeated the saying again

As time went by, the monks began to treat one another with a special love and reverence. There was a gentle, whole-hearted, human quality about them now which was hard to describe but easy to see. They lived with each other as those who had finally found something of significance. Their words were careful, considered and gentle. Who could tell when they might be speaking to the Messiah?

Before long, the vitality of the monastery attracted many visitors and young men began asking to join the community. The old hermit died without revealing any more and the Abbot sometimes wondered if he had understood correctly.

From ‘alt.spirit@metro.m3’ by Mike Riddell

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NYA2008 – my experience

September 11, 2008

I’m not a great fan of reflection but understand its importance. It’s about putting things into perspective, learning and developing. So with that in mind I’ll try to articulate my thoughts about the weekend.

When I was first asked to be part of this year’s assembly I agreed without much hesitation because I value NYA and its role. I also reckoned my job would be in the background because, let’s face it, one Cutler is enough for any event! It wasn’t until afterwards and finding that my remit was slightly more than I thought that I began to wonder if I’d done the right thing. Reasons for this are plenty but the stories are too long and too dull and would be too wrong to mention. I guess my feelings have been mixed from the start because I never thought I’d be back doing some work for the church again. God obviously had other plans and I’m glad about that.

Not surprisingly, it was really enjoyable and there were many, many positives. It was fantastic to see people I hadn’t seen in such a long time and the memories came flooding back and I smiled lots.

I enjoyed listening to Mark speak and remembered my past and times at Youth Assembly when his dad was guest speaker and that made me smile lots too. Mark had much to say and I found him engaging and, although he didn’t know me, he seemed to know me so very well. I’ll be trying to take his advice about space and rest and time out.

I’ll never forget the Burns Supper and how fantastic the speeches were and I’m certain it’s unlikely that Tam O’Shanter could ever be performed quite so wonderfully. The Unknown Magician made me laugh so much my sides hurt and I’m sure that’s why I ended up with a sore throat on Monday morning!

Staff worship was wonderful and I was so sorry I didn’t get to them all. I really wanted time at the human library too but didn’t and I desperately wanted to hear other people speak but didn’t manage that either. I guess more than anything I felt rushed. It wasn’t that we weren’t organised, we were, but we had technical problems or setting up problems or clearing the room of debris including banana skin problems. Yuck!

If I’m honest there were times when I found it all a bit too much for me. It turned into quite a surreal experience and one I was struggling to understand. I don’t do surreal very well, I’m pretty grounded and like things to feel real so it didn’t sit very right with me. I felt distracted and not connected to what was going on around me. I’m not even sure that I was fully present at times.

But there’s no doubting the people. People and their stories. I love listening to real people telling real stories. I heard stories that made me question who I am, what my role is and how I can demonstrate God’s presence in my own life. I admired the challenging minds I came into contact with and was in awe of their courage to speak out for what they believe to be right. I was left speechless by their passion for God and the commitment to the event that is YA. Perhaps it was here I caught a glimpse of God all over again and realised how far away I was.

My presence may have been intermittent but God’s presence was constant.

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NYA2008

September 9, 2008

The weekend was full of challenges and I’ve got so much in my head at the minute it’s hard to make sense of my thoughts.  I’ll post when I can string a sentence together … hopefully before the end of the week!

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connected

August 24, 2008

In two weeks time I’ll be in the midst of discussion as the Church of Scotland’s National Youth Assembly delegates consider the enormity of what relationships are all about.

When I was asked to co-ordinate this particular topic it seemed like a good idea but, as is so often the case, now I’m not so sure I can do it justice (it’s a self-belief thing and I’m working on it!). Alternatively, when I consider some the preparation to date and the discussions I’ve had with my team, I believe we can.

For me relationships are about connection. Not only with those we love and who love us but with the wider community, the people on the fringes of our society, the ones we sometimes choose to ignore. Sadly the truth is that because we’re flawed individuals we do make choices based on our values and beliefs whether we’re conscious of that or not. Is loving one another really so difficult? It would appear so. It’s not easy to say that as Christians we’re not always so tolerant.

What are the characteristics of an assembly of people who care?

Jesus led by example when he mixed with the ignored, stigmatised, diseased, misunderstood, judged and condemned? Was it ok for Jesus but too hard for us? The truth, again, is yes it is sometimes.

Seeing others with a compassionate heart will mean stepping outside our comfort zones and stepping into a world of uncertainty and doubt. Demonstrating God’s Grace by showing commitment, empathy and a willingness to see beyond the divisions that separate may leave us feeling vulnerable, uncomfortable and not in control. But maybe that is what’s needed to create a community based on honesty and caring without any conditions attached?

So who’s entitled to a meaningful and worthwhile life – a life of hope and opportunity where relationships play an integral part? A selected few or everyone without exception? How can we dare to play a part in that?

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Day

July 1, 2008

It seems comedy is the Community Psychiatric Nurse’s companion and for that I’m truly grateful otherwise the time with my mentor would have been far less entertaining! My adventure today involved chasing a patient’s dog around the street trying to get it back into the house because the dog likes adventure you see and sometimes if it gets out it stays out all night and it really needs to come in because I’m going out and what will it do if it comes back and I’m not in (the patient says). Immediately I feel sorry for (a) the elderly patient because she’s getting distressed and the dog’s too fast for her (actually the dog’s too fast for me too) and (b) the dog who’ll be left wandering around all day because no-one’s home. I was thinking this could all end in tears. Probably mine if I catch it and it bites me!

From the window I spotted the slippery menace and darted back outside … a woman with a mission! But we all know what dogs are like. They wait till you’re almost beside them then run away again. I lost count of how many times it did that. The man up the road started to chase it too and the Council refuse collectors seemed to enjoy the show.

I saw the dog was running out of steam and shouted one last time. Maybe he heard the desperation in my voice because he came bounding up to me. This dog whose name had been changed recently (long story), a friendly wee thing who realised he was in for the sharp end of his owner’s tongue. With his tail between his legs he made his way into the house and I was the heroine of the day!

Back inside we heard stories about the bingo (that made me smile), going for walks, hearing aids, dial a bus, the naughty dog eating sausages, learning to read and write at 70, her auntie (who must be about a 100) and a wee trip to the seaside. Nice lady!

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fed-up-ness

June 26, 2008

I’ve been a bit off colour this week and more than a little bored. Maybe my present fed-up-ness is the result of what seems like a rather long second year and, with only two weeks to go in placement, it’s all becoming a long, drawn out affair.   

Practice placements are always difficult no matter how good they are. This isn’t a contradiction. It’s like starting a new job every ten weeks so by the time you’re starting to settle in you find it’s time for another academic block before another placement… and the cycle begins all over again.

Overall my placement experiences have been fairly positive and I’ve learned a lot even when there appears little to learn. The patients have been great (mostly) and I’ve found most staff, especially my mentors, to be supportive. There have been a few highs and lows especially during the first placement when I found myself (several times) at the point of tears and ending up greetin in the ladies toilet wondering what the heck I was doing. Over the two years I’ve had to bite my tongue on more than a couple of occasions and turn a deaf ear to what was clearly none of my business. I have tried to remain impartial at all times and resist the temptation to get involved in any gossip. No mean feat I can tell you! Not getting drawn into staffing disputes and bitchiness has become a bit of an art and if I’m glad I’m managing to get through unscathed. It’s a mad world.

This week I’ve been wondering where the last two years have gone and can’t believe the amount of new stuff my brain has absorbed in that time.  I’ve also questioned over and over if my skills are really transferrable or is it all a myth. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me, my brain is full to the point of bursting due to new stuff going in and an over analysis of what’s already there. Maybe I just need to stop thinking for a while.

Sometimes I miss sitting at a desk where I organised, managed, arranged, problem solved and ok controlled certain things around me.  I guess I was happy knowing I was good at what I did.  But that was then. Only this week have I realised what I miss most: creativity, vision, hope and passion and I’m not really sure what to do with that knowledge except take it into a third year with me. 

So here I am, waiting for three results and hoping that tomorrow I’ll be feeling more like myself, more motivated, more engaged and more enlightened.