(Posted from the Ferry using my dongle thingy. Oh the joy of technology… )
So, my friend and co-conspirator Nick has taken up blogging! Nick has a website in connection to his life coaching and outdoor instructing- check it out…
In his last post, I got a mention- but the main thrust was the small matter of risk taking- which has been a theme here too of course. Nick quotes a few lines from a poem which I rather like. I can not find an author attributed- so if you know who wrote it, please let me know.
I think the poem deals rather well with the wider issues of risk- not just the white knuckle outdoor stuff, but also the issue of social risk- the danger of opening ourselves up to others around us. Another vitally important theme I think…
To laugh is to risk appearing the fool;
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental;
To reach out for another is to risk involvement
To expose feeling is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and your dreams
before the crowd is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To live is to risk dying
To hope is to risk despair
To try is to risk failure.
But risk must be taken,
because the greatest hazard in life
is to risk nothing
The person who risks nothing, does nothing,
has nothing and is nothing;
They may avoid suffering and sorrow,
but they simply cannot learn,
feel change, grow, love, Live
Chained by their certitude, they are a slave,
they have forfeited freedom;
Only the person who risks is free.
Yesterday we took a trip over the Clyde.
It is a very ordinary trip to us- we do it all the time. We go to the bottom of our drive, turn left and after about 200 yards, there is the terminal.
The rhythm of the ferries in their back and forward battle with the tides is the backdrop to our lives here. The lights pass comfortingly by on wet stormy nights, and on still morning you can hear the safety information announcement clearly floating in the air as we lie in bed, wrapped up warm whilst the commuters head for the city.
Yesterday was ordinary.
But there is beauty in the ordinary.
There are fragments of wonder.
The dark nights are always a surprise when the clocks change from BST to GMT- it was already dark when I was home from work at 5.15.
Winter feels that step closer.
Darkness is rising.
So on this All Saints Day- may some fractals of light make their home in your soul.
For the winter is long
I had a long day in Helensburgh today- meeting some of my staff, and chairing some reviews. I caught the ferry home amongst the usual mix of commuters and weekend holiday makers-grateful to be heading home.
It has been a tough week- more because of my old internal demons that from time to time drag me back to places that I hoped to leave behind.
Waiting for me was an e-mail someone had sent to the Aoradh website.
Most such e-mails are friendly inquiries or greetings, and this one started in this vein- a woman who is retiring to Dunoon with her husband from abroad, and had been checking out the church situation over here on the internet, and so found her way to our site.
And one article had upset her sufficiently that she felt the need to e-mail to let us know.
This was not for the usual reasons that have brought us to conflict previously- doctrine, Biblical interpretation etc. It was rather because she found something that I had written judgmental and unkind.
It is always harder, I think, when things that you think yourself to be strong in, are found wanting by others. By this I mean that I consider myself to be a pretty tolerant, kind person, who goes to great lengths to be fair and just to others when I can- although I have my petty moments as my friends will tell you! The whole ethos of Aoradh had always been to stand for unity and love, against that brick wall kind of Christianity that finds others wanting.
But here it was- clear evidence that someone else saw me, or at least something I had written, in an entirely different light.
What this lady objected to was this article– and in particular, these words;
There is a new kind of prosperity however, fuelled by the idolatry of the house worshippers. We have a new middle class, who disgorge from the Western Ferry terminal every weekday evening, home to their semi-rural idyll after a hard day in the big city. At the edges of the town, new identikit houses spring up overnight, expensive designer accessories, fitted kitchens and all.
I replied to her e-mail, apologising and trying to explain that this was a piece of creative writing where I was trying to come to terms with being an incomer in this town, and to understand what formed it’s character. I was groping to understand the town’s economy- and the centrality of property. I was wondering in my own mind if the obsession with owning and renovating property (as seen constantly on the TV as well as locally) had become the way that we measured life.
I was wondering if property had become the god of our age.
Now shown to have feet of clay as prices tumble and the credit gravy train derails.
What this ladies motivations for expressing her disapproval, I have no way of knowing. Perhaps the words I wrote were badly chosen- and I certainly have no wish to offend. Perhaps she tends towards the argumentative and dogmatic- a character trait not unheard of within our churches. Perhaps she has a romantic view of the ferry journey over to Dunoon, and my words spoilt a precious image for her.
Was I being unkind and judgmental?
I am not sure. But I still think that these questions are important ones- to ask ourselves.
Because I have a great big rambling house by the sea. I try to use it for others, and fill it with music and friends and fellowship. But I know that it is a source of ego strength- in all its faded glory.
So I bring it again to God, asking him again to use it, and me. I can do nothing else.
As for the complaint- soon the lady concerned will begin her own transplanting into new soil. May she find the kind nutrients and generous watering she requires…