Christmas Nights

Bright Christmas Tree designAs a child the most magical of times were the nights before Christmas. The Christmas tree with its multicoloured lights, I imagined had a thousand places within its boughs where tiny arboreal people lived, the wall decorations cast sparkling reflections from the open fire and bedtime was less of a chore as each sleep got me closer to ‘the night’. Christmas Eve itself was succession of wakenings so that I could reach down to the bottom of my bed to feel the long woolly sock. This was of course in expectation that Santa had been to fill it. Time and time again the garment was disappointingly empty. Then… then as if by magic, it felt fat and heavy and above all crinkly with the small presents inside. Sleep was gone for ever as the woollen sausage was hauled up and item after item retrieved from its innards. Sweets, toy cars and once a flute were unwrapped and put to usually noisy use. In some ways this little gifts were more looked forward to than their bigger companions hopefully below the tree itself . It was as if then these were gifts in dreams rather than of dreams.

 

But what now of the Christmas nights in late adulthood? Well, it has to be said that most are too similar to those of the rest of the year to get much notice. But from time to time, the old spirit of excitement wells up. And for an instant there is something special about them. For if we are open, there is a whiff of wood-smoke mellowness, a sense of a deeper hope and an intangible feeling that this year things will be different. In fact, strange as it may seem, at the end of the year we can sniff a new beginning.

 

However, unlike childhood’s desire to rush towards the big day, now we want to walk to towards it slower and to linger in each minute of carolling waiting. We want to stop the clock.

 

Needless to say we can neither hurry this time nor decrease the pace of its passing. On the other hand, we can relish each second as it passes, open it as the presents they are and savour the thought – the thought as to how we could make the next one bigger and even better.

A “Kodak” Moment!!

 

 

Kodak dominated the photographic scene for over 100 years. Almost everyone used their films and the phrase “a Kodak moment” meaning a phkodak tri-x film boxoto opportunity was well known.

What happened since then has become a story of failure and missed opportunities ending with Kodak filing for bankruptcy in 2012. Kodak had not kept up with digital technology.

 

Yet it was a Kodak engineer, Steve Sasson who invented the first digital camera in 1975. He is quoted as saying later, “it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘That’s cute, but don’t tell anyone about it. Kodak’s leaders thought they were in the film business – instead of the imaging business”

 

Kodak chose not to pursue digital photography afraid of losing their profitable film sales.

 

It is so easy to get side tracked and lose sight of the original reason why we do what we do. Why I became a joiner, or a social worker, a mechanic or housing officer, a teacher or a gardener. This can also be true for our relationships, our hobbies and for the causes we champion.  If we take our eye off the ball, we can easily miss the point.

 

But there is a twist to the tale: Kodak is back again as a new company, concentrating on a specific market and knowing what it’s there for.  I hope they have learned and like us, will

 

Keep the main thing the main thing!

 

 Written by Chic Lidstone, Industrial Chaplain to Dundee, Scotland 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Wrote A Letter To The Woman Behind Her At The Grocery Store. You Have To Read This…

It’s easy to be cynical about everyone  begging we meet. Here is a story of are real people in real need…….

 

She Wrote A Letter To The Woman Behind Her At The Grocery Store. You Have To Read This….

Here and Now

Picture courtesy of Rome.info

panorama_vatican

This week will see an ever increasing attention on Rome by the world. Since Papal conclaves naturally fascinate the faithful and the unbeliever in almost equal measure. More to the point for today is that the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church will have a global influence on the future of the whole Christian Church not least in the way that those outside see it.

From that viewpoint, I have been more observant of the news than usual. Yet this has thrown up some surprises. Not least a Catholic priest in St Peter’s Square, on being asked about possible changes the new Pope might bring in, claimed that such possibilities would not happen as they were not of God. Next day, a Channel 4 commentator made clear that  without changes the Roman Catholic Church and, by inference, Christianity would fizzle out.

Both speakers seemed intimate with what God thought! Yet who can? For the last lines of Minnie Louise Haskins’ often quoted poem – I said to the man at the gate of the year – are much less repeated. But they contain a warning for they are:

In all the dizzy strife,

of things both high and low

God hideth his intentions.

Let us then put our hand into the hand of God, look after the now and trust Him to take care of both the past and future.

What books are you taking on holiday

Well, its that time of year when I need to pick what to take on holiday in the way of books. In fact, I put it that way – ‘take’ rather than ‘take to read’ on the grounds that most of the tomes will return unopened.  Sometimes, they don’t interest me. Others I just don’t get round too. But there is an interesting class of literature that gets packed in the caravan firmly with the intention of never seeing the light of day until we return. And what are these unwanted travelling companions? Usually books that I feel I should read. That means either high literature – dusty Victorian volumes that forced humanity to invent television – or some worthy works from work. The later consist of either textbooks from student days or the tatty efforts picked up in charity stalls for a song which unfortunately never gets sung. In the end, I tend to over estimate the time I will spend reading and my rate of eye scanning. Moreover, I certainly over estimate my ‘stickability’ to soldier through page upon page, classic or not, fully aware that my only motivation is feel good at reaching the last one.

Bearing in mind life and memory is finite and that my mental stamina for the great works left me in my teens – what will I take on holiday? More’s the point what will I actually read on holiday? Whilst, I think about that – let me know your summer reading list …..

Alone Morse versus Lonely Lewis

It as amazing how themes of real concern are explored even in TV detective series. Take the ever popular Inspector Morse dramas by Colin Dexter and the the spin –off Lewis sequels. Both are set amongst the dreaming Spires of Oxford and consist of  nearly infallible policeman and his devoted if sometimes cheeky side-kick. investigating some usually gruesome murders Yet there very real differences in the Morse and Lewis characters when in the lead role.  Whilst both are single, Morse is is a life long bachelor and content with his music, beer, jaguar and the occasionally flirtation with women who always let him down. He appears then only to be occasionally lonely. Lewis is very essentially different. He eats his fast food, is comforted by his cat and grieves for his wife killed in a hit-and-run accident. Lewis is desperately lonely. However with thought we detect what separates them; not their situation. Instead it is the choices they have made in their situation. For as a result of what they have chosen for themselves, Morse is single and Lewis truly alone.

Is Life Meaningless?

Personal meaninglessness – the feeling  life has nothing worthwhile to offer – it is… as a separation from the moral resources necessary to live a full and satisfying existences (Anthony Giddens; 1991)

If the modern world is anything, it is about increasing control. From the depths of our own genetics to the simple changing of our TV channels, we like to have control. Control then make us feel powerful and hard-wired into our DNA. Yet it does not make us any happier? For we too easily worry about our controlling choices; are putting enough away for a pension, is our travel plans changing the climate or is vote condoning the right political policies. And so with control and choice goes anxiety. The fear of what we are becoming as a result of being ‘self-made’.

This is why as in previous ages, there remains a need for some external source of what is right – an ultimate moral source – a font of wisdom as to how to make our life choices. And that  is what religious people attribute to the will of God and his purpose for us. For them, life contains purposeful decisions which in turn bestows on it meaning.