Holidays in the Sun

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English: A burning barbecue used in a summer c...

English: A burning barbecue used in a summer cottage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We were encouraged this Summer to either take a break or devote our Life Group time to ‘other activities’. We chose to carry on, missing just two session. We had a:

  1. BBQ.  This was a great night, out on the decking, complete with chiminea.
  2. presentation and question and answer session with one of our members who does missionary work in Peru. Loved this. I don’t get to go many exotic places – well, none, actually – which meant that this gave me a brilliant insight into other lives.
  3. quiz night. We lost by one point to the boys.
  4. group meeting in another venue, complete with before and after photos of a house renovation.
  5. meal out at a pub in one of the local villages. 

I think the activities did invigorate us and bond us. Hope that is the case. Now it is back to ‘term time’.

Only The Lonely

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Bright and Shiny (album)

Bright and Shiny (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I believe that loneliness is one of the biggest killers in the world (the developed world, that is. Am sure disease is a bigger killer world-wide). How come, then, that this Bank Holiday weekend (UK) Facebook is crammed with people gushing about their trips to Italy, their great nights out, their happy, happy lives? Shiny, happy people.

 

I don’t buy it. I find FB a useful tool but the way people use it to give validation to their lives, to convince everyone they know (either IRL or virtually) that they are having a great life seems empty and narcissistic. I know one friend who uses it a little like this but the truth is a little less rosy. Not saying she’s lying but the good stuff gets posted up on FB and the arguments, the bickering, etc, all left out.

 

I am sure I am guilty of this myself. It troubles me.

 

 

The Beach – Don’t Spoil Our Fun

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English: Maya Bay, Phi Phi Ley island, Thailan...

English: Maya Bay, Phi Phi Ley island, Thailand. The location of the film “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Just watched the film, The Beach (2000) with my mum. It surprises me that this film received lots of negative reviews at the time. I’ve always been an admirer of it. Perhaps this is ‘cos I am older than those who were in their 20s in 2000. I don’t have experience of the round-the-world backpacking lifestyle so for me the film provided something of an insight… maybe?

 

It’s true that The Beach does mash up lots of different genres and some of the direction is gimmicky with strong hints of Apocalypse Now, Heart of Darkness, Lord of the Flies, but I think the central message resonates still:

 

Nothing must spoil the fun. The pursuit of pleasure is all and anyone or anything that gets in the way must be hidden, killed or otherwise ‘dealt’ with.

 

It is a moral tale that always leaves me thinking. The character of Cristo – or rather his situation – speaks to me every time. He didn’t die of his injury but neither does he get better. People who lie around being chronically ill/injured/mad/poor/old/disabled… they have to be hidden from sight, in the tent in a darker part of the beach, in order that everyone else can carry on regardless. It’s a policy that this present (UK) government pushes to the max.

 

For the Christian maybe the message is that there is no earthly paradise, pursuing such an idea is pursuing a false god, for we are ‘fallen’, broken, messed up, and thus bound to make a mess of everything with our wants, desires, jealousies, greed etc. ‘Paradise’ can come only through setting our sights on God, living by God’s wishes for us. I don’t know. Confused.

 

Letter to An Old Friend

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logo of "Buddhism School of Watkungtaphao...

logo of “Buddhism School of Watkungtaphao” Wat Khung Taphao Ban Khung Taphao, Khung Taphao subdistrict, Mueang Uttaradit, Uttaradit Province, Thailand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Two weeks ago I wrote a four page (A4) letter to an old friend. I met him in 1999, or thereabouts, through my husband. Since we split up he has been my ex’s friend more than mine – as it should be in this instance. However, I felt that enough time had passed for me to connect with him from my new position/standing in life.

 

He is one of the most decent men I know. Ex and I used to call him ‘True Man’ for this is how he appears to us. Strong yet gentle; serious yet wickedly funny; selfless yet no pushover. He is a teacher – Head of Religious Education at a large school – and did his PhD on an aspect of Buddhism. My letter was about my ‘journey’ rather than the usual letter that details the minutiae of daily life.

 

He was delighted to get a letter of this type from me (for obviously this spiritual life was a blank to me back in the days when we saw each other) and he replied with a long, enthusiastic email. It is brilliant to be able to talk to him about this stuff. Turns out he is no stranger to Delirious? and is a big fan of Hillsong and Jars of Clay. He also ordered a book for me (he is a kind man!) It is called Cries From the Heart by Ravi Zacharias. It arrived today and I have just started reading it.

 

Be True and Authentic to Yourself

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I wanted to flag up this comment made to me re previous post, Staring at the Rude Boys. The comment comes from Michael Summers. It’s worth meditating on.

“I have several reactions to your blog today. As I myself have eclectic interests, I understand your fear of being limited. At the same time, part of being of a disciple of Jesus is being disciplined so that we may be authentic ourselves, that we may function in our appropriate role as members of his body, the church.

Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 both make the point that just as members of a physical body (fingers, toes, neck, etc.) cannot just walk away and say that they do not need other parts of the body, so members of the body of Christ need one another.

The church needs you, your authenticity, and your reminding others that that church cannot simply stare inward but must have interaction with the world while maintaining its identity as a collection of motley, yet committed and changed, followers of Jesus. So be true and authentic yourself, but meditate on Luke 9:57-62 and what it may mean for you.”

     by Michael Summers August 16, 2013

 

Staring at the Rude Boys

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No Life Group for two weeks. I decided to conduct an experiment. I went to my first punk gig for about a year!

 

I was out for only a short time and the night reminded me of the good and the bad of this lifestyle: fast-paced, vibrant, sexy, lots of hugging from ‘the old muckers’, as we say in the UK. etc. The bad? Some shallow people, some people who drink too much. People who are using the going out scene to run from their problems.

 

But it was okay. I could see why it is addictive and I met up with a man we’ll call Mark, cos that’s his name, and his girlfriend, who I had not met before. She was really nice and it was good to reconnect with them. Will I return to the gig scene? Maybe in a small way.

 

My church people are worthwhile and solid, good people who nourish me. They are authentic people. But I also know that I should not devote all my time and social life to the church. It might be too limiting for me in the long run. As a single person who intends to stay that way for some time it is important to have a rounded life and not deny other parts of who I am.

 

Siouxsie Sioux at the Edinburgh Tiffany's, 1980

Siouxsie Sioux at the Edinburgh Tiffany’s, 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Stripping

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“Jesus’ entire life is about the stripping away of power and control. He always chooses the path of love not power.”
Rob Bell

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“Did We Just Meet Jesus?” What a Morning Part 3

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stmattsOn the way back from church – a distance of about 150 yards – we met a tall, rather posh, very good-looking man in his 30s. He was wearing a blue shirt, shorts and a Panama hat. Now, if you knew my home town you would be agog to see such a man. I mean, man, we are talking Rough Town of England.

“Can you help me, please?” he asked. “I’m afraid I am a little lost. I’m looking for the Travelodge.” (Budget motel).

He had no car, no luggage, yet looked very clean and respectable. We gave him directions.

“What on earth is someone like you doing in this town?” I laughed.

“I’m travelling around the country,” he replied affably. We burst out laughing. He complimented our countryside. Anyway, we wished him well and off he went happily.

“Didn’t he look like Jesus?” I said to my mum. “Or how you would imagine Jesus to look like now.”

“He did a bit. Mind you, if Jesus was travelling round the UK he would choose to stay at the Travelodge,” my mum reasoned.

 

I had to agree. It was all very strange. Pleasant, but strange.

What a Morning! Part 2

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fontThe service was a family one, focusing on a baby’s baptism. Mum and I hated it (not the baptism – that was sweet). The church is so traditional. Stunning to look at but the service was almost, it seemed to us, meaningless! Just people saying words printed on a sheet. There was no ‘message’ as such. The vicar is a very nice man – terribly jolly – but no, the service felt empty. When I think of the passion and thought that goes into our sermons at My Church.

Thankfully, it made me realise how much I love my church, despite the fundamentalism. There is substance and learning and vibrancy and the love of and love from people there. No C of E for me today, thanks!

 

What a Morning! Part 1

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Mum (with whom I am staying on my birthplace town for a few days) hotfooted it to the Church of England church at the end of our street this morning. Coming up behind us was an old girl, smartly dressed, clearly on her way there too. She overtook us slow coaches. Then she fell. I mean, she really fell – flying through the air, landing with a right smack. It was awful. We helped her, got assistance etc. My mum, who was a nurse, suspected she had fractured her femur. 

My mum was really shaken by this as she is 83 herself and fears this fate. Anyway, lots of helpful people took over and an ambulance was sent for. Then we went on our way to church…

 

Postings from Peru

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Shipibo Ceramics

Shipibo Ceramics (Photo credit: Howard G Charing)

 

Over the hot Summer we aim to do different things in Life Group. We had a BBQ last month and tonight one of our group talked to us about her missionary work in Peru. Fascinating. Even more so, I think, because the speaker is one of the sweetest people you are ever likely to meet. Talk about not pushing yourself forward! Being an ever-curious character I asked her loads of questions to help draw her out (as did some of the others).

 

Hearing about the life of a missionary in Peru would be interesting on the radio but when it is someone you know, and they are in the room with you, it totally brings it to life.