Archive for the ‘Peace’ 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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time flies

September 16, 2008

Since Youth Assembly I’ve been on a bit of a roll with the old blog so today I’m pondering the possibility of a post. Or maybe I’m just faffing.

I was reading about procrastination on another blog yesterday and the word seems especially fitting for me at the minute but I find that my ways of putting off the inevitable are changing, evolving to suit the latest fad.

My usual approach in avoiding essay writing in particular involves three things: housework; staring out the window looking for squirrels; spending hours on end reading material related to the most recent assignment which, at the beginning, makes me feel quite self-righteous in a conscientious kind of a way but inevitably leads to over saturation and numbness. Always good.

I’ve noticed this week a new pattern is emerging and there are now some additions to my repertoire. It appears I have developed a new and far more entertaining set of avoidance tactics that include Facebook (the word games can put you into a trance like state if you stick with them long enough), Twitter (providing your friends update regularly you can see what they’re doing at any given point in time) and of course the ultimate is mulling over other people’s interesting/not interesting thoughts in bloggers world (even the random stuff).

With the final academic session and final placements on the horizon as of Thursday I’m feeling a bit guilty that I’ve been so unproductive these last two weeks. It’s not as if I’ve had nothing to be getting on with. So in an attempt to combat this guilt I’m planning on planning my research proposal and visiting Athens. I’ll put the kettle on first and take the washing out the machine and remember to take my lemon balm herbal remedy for stress and anxiety and … oh it’s almost lunchtime and then I’m seeing someone at two.

Where does the time go for goodness sake!?

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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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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 great outdoors

July 30, 2008

Monday was such a beautiful day. When we set off for camping in Keswick we were hopeful that the next day would be much the same. A good day for walking was what we wanted and I was so looking forward to returning to Cat Bells. Alas, the British weather let us down and so we packed up yesterday morning in the rain and headed for a cup of tea and a scone (resisted temptation of big fat cake!) followed by a roam around the shops. Ah the excitement of it all was almost too much! But seriously, I love Keswick, it’s one of my favourite places and even in the rain I’m never disappointed.

The only downside for me was the usual onset of insomnia around midnight, the endless trips to the toilet, someone in the next tent snoring and then to top it all a particularly bad hair day which kept getting worse!!!

Can’t wait till Saturday when we’ll be going back for more of the same! Ah the great outdoors … ye cannae beat it!

Lake Derwentwater … exquisite.