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Category Archives: loss

The Tree

4m1W7GThe tree remembered being planted in the churchyard those many summers ago. For he saw the young daughter of the squire slipping in a copy of that new book on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to wile away the long sermon. This blissful rural scene was oblivious to the battles being fought on land and sea to fence in the tyrant Napoleon.
The tree brought to mind the parishioners chattering excitedly having been told of a war far away over whether humans could own humans; trees never own each other more than they can own God’s sunlight.

He then lived many summers and slept for many winters before Johnny, the blacksmiths boy, proud in his khaki uniform marched off to France.  A few months later, his family came weeping to the yard even though Johnny had no grave there.

It seems hardly any summers at all after the Great War, that his branches were swept back by a gaudily painted plane sprouting smoke and crosses flew overhead with another firing in pursuit. Now he saw the night sky filled with new stars, all talking to each other as they silently rotated above.
More recently, he was overjoyed when a young family came to stay in the disused church which had been converted to a house.  They played in his shadow and touched his bark in games. And so, he felt the pain even more as the chainsaw cut into his flesh to make way for another room for washing, games and fitness machines. But through it all, he knew sorrow for humans who neither live for summer or sleep in winter but destroy or are destroyed in ever season.

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Eulogies to Life

Today I heard another eulogy at a memorial service. With time you pick up certain patterns. Firstly there is a broad outline of the life celebrated. Then we hear  the funny stories – the little events that bring smiles of remembrance and love. But there is always mention of the trials and tribulations faced and usually conquered. The whole story of each life then is a mixture, an amalgam and a pastiche that is bitter sweet.

Well this afternoon’s service included the playing of the theme from Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse – a British detective series based around Oxford. And for the first time I noticed the depth of this music. It was a bitter-sweet tune which seemed to encapsulate not just the funny and the sad but the mystery, contradiction and enigma which is  life. I was going to comment of this fact. But left it, for the music had spoken the better for me.

 

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A vexing day

Yesterday was a vexing day! By all accounts it was a vexing day. It started with my car not just failing its annual road test, it also requires a very expensive repair. This bad news was followed by a series of meetings each with its vexing moments. and all this was punctuated by those silent calls probably spewing out from call centres with dubious purpose.

 

Yet through out the various annoyances,  I saw something else. It was flashes of people in need. In fact, folk more vexed than I was and with much better reason.

 

The day ended with me watching ‘My house in Umbria’ in between phone calls. It is a gentle comedy which nevertheless deals with many difficult life issues. And in it we see the various characters dealing with their own and others’ brokenness. In the end, it is their mutual acceptance of what sometimes is vexing beyond solution that they find acceptance – they find healing – they find contentment at least for the day.

 

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A Marketing Strategy

Luke 10.1-9

Acts 3.1-10

Not so long ago Black & Decker were preparing for a large promotional campaign. And to get the angle just right for their advertising, they sent out market researchers to find what ‘Joe Soap’ actually wanted. They returned with the discouraging news that people didn’t want drills they wanted holes. In other words, they weren’t interested in power tools only what they can do for them.

Now that was not a surprising discovery really. Few of us get on a bus to have a ride in a Van Hool special – we get on to go somewhere. And here is an important point for the church. Because it is often said that those in church don’t want to evangelise others they just what full and vibrant services. On the other hand, those outside Christianity don’t want uninvited missionaries selling them religion on their door-steps. Where then is the answer?….

To read the full sermon, please click here.

 

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The Place of Love

img_16021_356x197_1 A long time ago I heard a comment that froze me to the marrow. It came from a neighbour after the deaths of family members in a car accident. She said – we have had so many good times together that now we must pay for them. The implication was that there was some celestial bank book of happiness and misery. Have too much of one and you were bound to have a dollop of the other in some mystical accounts balancing act.

Well, whether you think that way is up to you. However, there may be a grain of truth in this pessimism. And it is this. If life is to enjoyable and fun and fulfilling then we need to love someone. When the time of parting comes – a fact made inevitable by our biology – then the result is loss and bereavement. From that stark viewpoint there is an natural reckoning. Yet, surely, there must be more? For if we are more than molecules and human life more than a pre-programmed struggle to survive then there is a higher plane; a place where personality and creativity and love have a very real existence, a place where these humanities lie beyond the mortality of the material world and a place we might call by a very ancient name – Heaven.

 

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When is it time?

A very challenging post on the ethics of prolonging life, presented in terms of a pet, is at:

http://wp.me/psYPA-2uS

Worth a read; even more so, worth thinking about.

 
 

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Peter Pan must die!

My first visit to the theatre was to the King’s in Glasgow on a night with a pea-soup fog. It was to see J M Barrie’s still magical Peter Pan. And when it came to the point that Tinkerbelle briefly expires, the mist seemed to seep across the stage. For when Peter asks – where’s Tinkerbelle? A lone child’s voice was heard to whisper through the gloom – She’s dead.

Well if his spark-like fairy did temporarily wane, the fame of Barrie’s play has not. For despite him writing other scripts, it is Peter Pan that still bestrides stages, films and books. Yet some years ago, when visiting the playwright’s childhood home in Kirriemuir here in Scotland, I bought a copy of Peter Pan. And it was only then did I realise how many adult nuances it has. After all, there can be no greater adult temptations than to wish never to grow old; never to lose youth’s courage and never to face the real world.

It is ironic then that a play, quintessentially connected to childhood, can only be fully savoured when the eternal boy Peter has to die and not Tinkerbelle.

 

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