Category Archives: Spirituality

How do I do it?

I get asked that so much. So much that I have a draft prepared answer in my head, which I vary depending on the situation. Something about seeing both sides of it, etc.

But it still affects you. You wouldn’t be doing it if it it didn’t. It’s just that every so often, after a bad couple of days, something really hits you. And then you ask yourself, how do I continue?

Hope. When it seems like all hope has gone.

The bottom line is, life isn’t fair. Full stop. How I justify that ethically, religiously, medically, only God knows right now.

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I wrote this on the 3rd and instead of posting it I rang up a close friend, told her of the issue and she met me in town that afternoon. Spending time with her made me feel better, not only because she told me some hopeful news, but also because she reminded me that it’s ok to have questions, doubts and uncertainities. So although the above babblings are still relevant, true and saddening, I’m not freaked about it making me question my religious standing. It’s just something I have to work through. And I apologise if none of this makes any sense to anyone…

Christmas

I’ve now finished work for Christmas, well until 7.30pm on Christmas day when I start nights, but I still get most of Christmas day to relax and a nice few days off before it. And after my nights I’m heading down south to see my family for a couple of days. We’ve got the in laws staying for the Christmas holiday days.

So I’m feeling quite Christmasy… we’ve got our real tree up and all the presents underneath, we will be going shopping for all the Christmas food shortly and I’ve got Kate Rusby’s Sweet Bells playing. We had our church’s carol service on Sunday evening, followed by birthday cake for Jesus and two congregational members. One of these congregational members is 91 and she every day she walks into the centre and protests for peace at the side of the road, which led us to have a discussion as to whether Jesus does this… Although the best carol event this year had to be ‘Beer and Carols’, an adaptation of Greenbelt’s ‘Beer and Hymns’. Our church has done it in previous years but we didn’t last year, and this year the landlord requested us back! So we took over half the pub with our instruments and singers, handing out sheets to other publicans and collected money for my work (by coincidence!). Some people obviously, moved away from us and grumbled about not being able to have a quiet evening in the pub, but others were coming up with requests and joining in. And it was good fun!

I’ve calmed down since my rant the other day, and also had a chance to think about it from his perspective a bit more. The whole thing basically means we’ve got to move house in the new year, when we were planning to stay where we are till April. So Mr B’s done some research and we’re off to see some places shortly. Christmas isn’t the ideal time to be house hunting because many estate agents have already closed for the holiday, but hopefully we’ll find somewhere suitable in the next few weeks.

Anyway, I basically came here to wish everyone a merry Christmas!!!

Turn the other cheek?

Somebody has made a very selfish decision which impacts massively on us, and what we do over the next few months. It’s very iritating and makes me almost regret doing what I assumed was the right thing to do. The whole thing has made me really annoyed and frustrated. Last night when I found out the news, I was so annoyed I was starting to think up ways to make his life difficult, as he’s made ours. But then I felt really mean for even thinking those things. And I remembered what Jesus said about turning the other cheek. Easier said than done.

I doubt if I’ll end up doing anything purposefully spiteful in revenge, but right now every time I think about it I boil up with anger, so I can’t even contemplate forgiving him right now. Jesus doesn’t ask for a lot, does he?! Maybe I’ll get there, some day. For now though, I’m going to make sure he knows the facts behind the situation and take it from there.

Greenbelt

I realised last night as I was going to sleep that I hadn’t mentioned the actual Greenbelt festival in the previous post, when I’d intended to. So I thought I’d give you a quick synopsis.

Best Talk – Gene Robinson’s ‘In the Eye of Storm’ It was truely inspiring. And I told him so when I bought his book and managed to get 3rd in line to get it signed! He thanked me for coming and I insisted that he needed more thanks because he’d travelled further than me – I only live an hour or so away!

Best Music – Duke Special. Mr B loves Duke Special but I’d never really been exposed to him at all, so I was determined to see him at Greenbelt. Unfortunately I returned to my tent a couple of hours before he was due to start, decided to close my eyes for a few minutes, and woke up 2.5 hours later! I jumped up and walked really fast over to main stage, when I realised I hadn’t given myself chance to wake up properly. So we ended up sitting in the picnic area, watching and listening from a slight distance. But it was still good. And we bought a couple of his albums.

Best Spiritual Moment – Sunday morning. But not at the main service. I was camping with people from my church, most of whom decided they didn’t want to go to the service. So Mr B cooked eggy bread for everyone for breakfast, and then one of the girls returned from having a shower with a brown bag that they’d been handing out at the service. We read through the programme, picked out the bits we liked, and had our own little prayer and oil blessing time between us. It was lovely.

Best Overall Thing – This year I think I got the balance right between catching up with friends and going to programmed items. In previous years I’ve often felt that I’ve spent all weekend having drinks with old and current friends, which has been great, but I felt that I missed out on a lot of the actual festival. But this year I managed to chat to most of the people that I wanted to, and still went to most of the programmed stuff that I’d planned to. And one friend that I chatted briefly to, immediately commented how grown up I seemed. Which I took as a complement…

Second Childhood

When I studied health and social care in sixth form, I remember being told that often, as people become elderly, they regress into a second childhood. Having never worked with the elderly, I’d never properly experienced this. Until now. My grandad is in his late 80’s and has been steadily deteriorating over the last 6 months. Earlier this week he was admitted to a secure psychiatric ward as he became uncontrollable on the normal ward. He’s been shouting at the nurses, ripping out his IV access and screaming for 6 hours at a time. Sounds like one of my 4 year old patients, I thought, as I read the latest email update from Mum.

It’s just really sad. He was in the army during the 2nd world war (in communications rather than fighting), he’s brought up two children, he’s enjoyed over 60 years of marriage and now has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He’s had an amazing life. And it’s just sad that it’s ending like this. I almost wish that he would just die, so that he didn’t have to go through all the pain and anxiety that must be causing him to scream hour after hour. But then I feel like the worst grand daughter in the world.

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower or inscribe a stone
Nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known
Weep if you must
But life goes on
So sing as well.

Words from the front of the service sheet.

To say today has been surreal is an understatement. Wake up, open birthday presents, get ready for memorial service, drive to service, cry almost continually for an hour or two, chat to everyone in a somber fashion, drive back, eat ice cream under a shelter whilst it absolutely throws it down and then walk home getting drenched. It doesn’t feel like my birthday. I didn’t mention it at the service for obvious reasons and only a few people knew, so it was only slightly noted. I know he would have wanted me to enjoy my birthday, but that can wait till the weekend.

The service was lovely with tributes from his step dad, brother and a consultant he worked alongside. Everyone had their own individual story of how he’d helped them or made them laugh. The church was packed full with hundreds of people, many of which had to stand at the back. And there were photos of him, throughout his life, around the church.

RIP Shaun.

Faultlines

For every breath that leaves me now
Another comes to fill me
And for every death that grieves me now
The next will surely kill me
For those borders crumble every day
The faultlines are showing
And all I thought was here to stay
Slowly is going.

Faultlines, Karine Polwart

Ethics

When is it right to say ‘enough is enough’ and stop medical treatment?  There is a line.  Somewhere.

I had a discussion with someone recently about this – she didn’t want to ‘play God’ by turning off the machines.  Which I completely understood and respected, but there are times when the person is never going to be alive without X and Y and Z machine.  So, is it fair?  Is it ethical?  In a way, as I pointed out in this discussion, by using these machines, we are already playing God.  These people would have died already, if it hadn’t been for the machines that we’ve invented.  Which of course, in many cases is a good thing, but there is a line which must be drawn at some point.  It is possible to keep a completely brain dead person ‘alive’ with machines.

These are all issues I have to quite frequently discuss, and therefore ponder upon.  But when suddenly they’re being discussed about a member of my own family, it’s completely different.  My Grandad was taken into hospital today.  And it doesn’t sound good.

Every brain cell in my head tells me that he’s had a very good life – he’s 89 and he’s certainly lived a fulfilled life.  If he deteriorates further, my medical knowledge knows that there isn’t any point in massively up scaling treatment.  But my heart is still hugely saddened at the thought.

Who? Me?

So, you want me to do that? But… I haven’t been here long enough… I don’t know enough. There’s got to be other people who could do it better than me. So, there will be other people around to help me? Good. But you still want me to take the lead role? Hmm. Ok.

Where are these other people? I thought someone was going to do X and Y? Yes, I know I’ve got some help, but more had promised to come too. I’m stuck here at the moment. I can’t do it. I can’t do everything. I haven’t been around long enough. I don’t know enough.

I suppose in time support should come. It has done in the past. Just have to keep going. Keep trying. Keep praying.

I passed!

Much of last week was spent preparing for two things – my first years appraisal and the first service that I led at my church on Sunday night. My appraisal was done at 3am on Thursday, and it all went fine. I came away from it with a list of aims for the next year, and slightly more confidence that I was mostly heading in the right direction. And as I said to my team leader – ‘I passed!’ He laughed at me, explaining that you can’t really pass or fail an appraisal… but it felt like I’d passed!

The second thing wasn’t really a pass or fail thing either. In my alternative worship community, anyone can lead worship – you just have to say ‘I want to lead worship’ and you get put on the rota. Once on the rota, you are paired up with someone else, and you organise the service between you. Our first one was in August, but I was away, and she offered to lead it by herself. So this time when she was away, I said I’d do it by myself. I’ve done a reasonable amount of alternative-ish worship planning, but in my Swansea / SCM life – never in my New Home. Except for the Greenbelt service, which was completely different because it was done in a big group and was a completely different service than I would ever do on my own. So, although I don’t have to go through any of the long training that Folkie has to do to preach, it felt like I was being tested, judged, critiqued. Maybe it was just my nerves speaking. But it did feel like I had to prove to everyone that I could do it.

These services rarely fit any church year, the themes generally come from where ever the individual leader is in their spiritual journey, and they find a creative way to share worship, with essentially whatever they like. It just so happened that my service sorted fitted with the conventional church year (you can tell I’m a Methodist at heart, can’t you?!). It was a kinda alt worship harvest. I arranged the printing of about 90 photos of nature – mountain and coastal views, close ups of flowers, mushrooms, wildlife, etc. And I hung these around everyones heads on string, using pegs. At the front there was also a table display of actual natural things – allotment produce, shells, logs, a plant, a framed photo of Three Cliffs (thanks guys!) and a few Moroccan stones. I was pleasantly surprised how impressive the scene looked after setting it up – you can never quite tell when its all been in your head! The service itself was mostly mediative, using the photos, the natural things and creation perspectives and readings which I had scattered around.

It was difficult to tell during the service how it had gone – I did minimal participating in it, as I had to think about the music and what was happening next. But afterwards I got numerous positive comments. The most touching ones had to be the little old lady, who said that it moved her more than most of our services do; and the guy who organises the rota who said he was really impressed with my readings and vocal projection. Which surprised me, as I did not consider this as a strong point of mine. And he writes amazing meditations! I didn’t mention which bits I’d pinched from resources… but I know that at least half of what he was referring to, I’d written myself. Anyway, I somehow managed to impress him enough to get myself onto the rota for monthly medium sized services, which should be commencing shortly. Hmm, this is the trouble – you do well, impress everyone and you get asked to do more! I should have made an effort to mess it up! 😉 Mr B couldn’t understand why everyone was so surprised I’d done a good job, but I think he’s a bit biased.