Thursday, March 30, 2006

Here's our set list from Saturday night. It's not really a set list because I forgot to write them in the order we did them. But there you go. It's a fair representation of the songs we play. 'More Beautiful', 'Enough', 'Until I drown' and 'I don't have the words' are all written by the lovely Steph B. You can read the lyrics here. The rest you can guess at.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A veil of tears

The last few days have reminded me again, as if I needed it, that we live our lives through a veil of tears. Friends having to face their darkest times and there are no words that can ease the pain, or bring light to the dark. All I can do is offer my silent presence with them. This is from the Magicians Nephew and offers me some hope that there is a greater silent presence with my friends right now who will hold them in these times.

"Son of Adam" said Aslan, "are you ready to undo the wrong that you have done to my sweet country of Narnia on the very day of it's birth?"
"Well I don't see what I can do," said Digory "You see the Queen ran away and-"
"I asked, are you ready?" said the Lion.
"Yes" said Digory. He had for a second some wild idea of saying, "I'll try and help you if you'll promise to help my mother," But he realized in time that the Lion was not at all the kind of person one could try and make bargains with. But when he had said "Yes" he thought of his Mother and he thought of the dying hopes he had had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes and he blurted out:
"But please, please - won't you- can't you give me something that will cure Mother?" Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great feet and the huge claws on them; now in his despair, he looked up, at his face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shinning tears stood in the Lions eyes. They were such big bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion really must be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself."(C.S.Lewis)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I have a new Eugene Peterson book in my house. And I want to eat it. Now. It's the second in the wonderful series in 'spiritual theology', which as far as I can tell came about from people going, "write down EVERYTHING before you die Eugene, please." (I could be wrong on that one...)

I really can't wait to eat it. But I almost don't want to start, I don't want to eat too fast, Mr Peterson's books require swimming in. So I don't know if I should wait until holiday times in three weeks to start. I'd hate to finish it before then, but can I wait that long? And frankly who really cares? I may wait. Because the Lakes AND Eugene Peterson would make me pop with profound meaningful moments and that's got to be a good thing. Right?

This is kind of cool

This is what my blog would look like condensed and on a T-Shirt. If I had the desire to do that, which I don't, so it can go here instead. Linkage here.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Reality Bites

“There's no point to any of this. It's all just a... a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know... a quarter-pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter become a cackle... and I, I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights and I ride my own melt.” (Troy- Reality Bites)

So, last night I watched Reality Bites again, one of the original post-modern angst, what is the meaning of life?, what is this world all about?, lets get lost under a mire of existential musings, films. Worth a watch. But also confusing for my brain; did I watch this film as a teenager and let it shape the rest of my thinking; or am I merely watching it reflect some of my own thinking on the nature of this world? Did I really get my love of the details from this line in the film, or is it just reflecting back to me some of my own ideas on what I love about this life? I suppose I love the details because of the craftsman that invented the details. I love that the maker knows the small things about our lives, the things that are often overlooked.

In a way I agree with Troy, life feels like this lots of the time. Meaningless, but the details are brilliant. I do live for those moments, the ones like today when the sun shines through your windows and if you catch it in time you can hear the sound of summer in the distance. Sitting on the steps at night looking at the moon. Walking into your house and discovering your housemate is in and wants to get pizza and watch a film. Reading Isaiah 53 and crying at the story of the cross all over again. The warmth of a duvet around you. The song that makes you cry… Hang on, I know where I got all this from.

Adrian Plass is to blame, not Troy from Reality Bites. Read this:
“,…another note, a sweet, high, flute like noise filled the church, mixing with the lower one to produce a sound that made you want to weep as soon as you heard it. It was like so many things, that I made a list afterwards.
It was like the end of a beautiful piece of music.
Like waking after a nightmare.
Like laughing when the pain has gone.
Like finding a light switch in the dark.
Like an ice cold drink on a hot day.
Like suddenly knowing you are loved.
Like perfect weather.
Like the end of a happy film that made you cry.
Like finishing a jig-saw puzzle.
Like knowing that everything will be looked after and sorted out/
Like discovering that someone was in charge all the time.
Like peace.” (Adrian Plass- An Alien at St Wilfreds)

It is lists like this, like the Costal Dune song ‘Gratified’, like the moment Troy has in Reality Bites, that makes me think life is worth living. Because they make me ache inside for something else. C.S Lewis said it was the sign that we are made for eternity. That we long for these moments to continue. To last. And these moments make us homesick for a place we have never seen.

So my thoughts, like my sins, are so unoriginal, but that’s ok. There is little new under the sun. But there is beauty in the details. And there is a place full of those details. A place worth longing and aching for. There is a bigger picture made up of these small moments, interactions, joys and sorrows that make up our lives. One day we’ll get to see that. *happy sigh*

Old friends

Yesterday I sat with two of the people who know me best in this world. Anna, Sarah and I have been friends for the last 7 years, ever since we went through that well known ‘bonding in times of suffering’ year called Relay. It was a good and hard year, but the years since have been better and worse. Yesterday was another day of talking about the very different situations we live in, of talking about the dark moments, the times when life feels like it is lived through a veil of tears. We also talked about the majority of moments which make up the simple plodding through life that we all have to do, regardless and in spite of the circumstances around us. Putting into words the safety and freedom of praying with people who understand you, can encourage or rebuke you with a look and love you is hard.

I love them both and love the difference in our lives, Sarah is married to the lovely James, lives in SW19 and works for the pension commission doing very important things that I don’t understand. Anna lives in Witham and works as a Journalist, fulfilling her ambition but working through the times when the reality of that is hard and gritty. Both living out the reality of the mess and wonder of this relationship with the maker of the universe in their worlds.

We’ve said it before but it’s unique to meet up with people who are in different worlds, we are constantly challenged not to be envious of each others situations because we see the same mixture of hardship and wonder in each others lives. It’s comforting to know that the grass that seemed so green is in fact the same mixture of brown, green, lush and dried as on our side of the fence. And it’s incredible the difference that closing your eyes and talking to someone you can’t see about each other makes. Praying with them is never about impressing with words or on the basis of a job, or political. It’s simply about three people who’ve committed to walking through this life together talking to their Dad about their lives. I have no status, no job, no image to convey when I am with them. It’s just me, Anna, Sarah and the one who loves us most.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Harold, what did you do?

Harold, Harold, what have they done to you? Does anyone else think it was a bit harsh to say God was telling him to kill Paul? Clearly the script-writers have been smoking something to enable the creative juices recently. Still, in further Neighbours excitement, at least Alex is dead now, only a matter before Dr Karl aka "the only doctor, counselor, GP, surgeon in Erinsbrough" swoops in and the world can be as one again. Karl and Susan. Come on.

Friday, March 10, 2006

30 years of Mark Arnold

Saturday is the day my brother turns 30. He is officially no longer young. I remember when we laughed at the lines of the Simon and Garfunkel song with the line, "I was 21 years when I wrote this song, I'm 22 now but I won't be for long". And when we laughed at the line in Pump up the Volume, "Anyone over the age of 20 really has no idea". Oh the irony. He's going to be 30. And as a tribute to the mixture of genius and geek that make up Mark Arnold, here is a small list of things about him that not many people know. Some of the reasons I love him so much. The last fight we had was when I threw a chair at him and he threw an encyclopedia at me. This goes towards making up for that.

My brother Mark:
He owns lots of red jumpers.
He has secret sides that few people get to see. I love it when others are let in to that side of him and see how amazing he is.
He can be very annoying, wonderfully stupid, deeply profound and caring all in one day.
He loves Jesus. Lots.
For someone who owns practically every theological book there is (and has read them) he is remarkably practical and real about faith, the struggles and the reality of God.
He seems to just get on with life, a fact I am constantly amazed and bemused by.
He’s really really grumpy in the morning and a simple conversation can send him into fits of rage. I find that very very funny.
He always has to argue, even if he agrees with me, he always has to argue.
He’s really, surprisingly, secretly stubborn.
He laughs at me.
He can’t be put into a box, even though he sometimes wears evangelical man clothes. .
He says ‘probably’ and ‘I think so’ FAR too much. Even about things that should be definite. Eg. ‘Are we going left at the next junction?’- ‘probably’
I love spending time with him.
He’s not cool, at all.
He reads me cool quotes from books.
He can be really really silly. I love that about him.
He can still play ‘lets pretend we’re in Lord of the Rings’ up mountains when he’s 29. I hope he will in his thirties.
He really really loves the Bible and making sure everyone can understand what’s going on in it.
He never humours my self pity but helps me laugh at myself.
He laughs at me. A lot.
He’s my friend. One of my best friends.
I think he likes me too.

When do you think I should tell him that he's half way to 60 now?

Check it out.

Well Demelza has finally given into the blog world, no longer content for her blog to be merely a cheery space to shout, "Church in a Pub, yes please!" She's given some deep thoughts as well. Check it out here. She's also in picture form, somewhere in my archives, being particularly confused by knitting. I can understand, knitting is complex.

In the theme of checking things out - you must buy this book. Now.

It's hard to sum up the writings of Adrian Plass without hyperbole. He provides a much needed injection of sanity into our Christian tribes and sub cultures, he knows that fundamentally God is nice and He likes us. He likes reminding people of that. Pretty good if you ask me.

And my third and final 'check this out' is the wonderful band 'Rooted'.

That's me, the ever wonderful Steph B and another Catherine (we'll let her off spelling it wrong). We even have a gig on the 25th March in Eastbourne. So much fun.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Wednesday is a good day, it's just enough into the week to get into the routine of life, and then it's downhill all the way into the weekend, it is the summit of the week. And in my vague routine it's a quieter day of being in Brighton, preparing stuff, hanging out with other student workers to watch neighbours and drink tea. Today was a good day. Inspite of illness and tiredness the randomness and scheming ways of our God have managed to creep into the conversations, the MSN moments, the text messages and have left me aware of God through his people.

Outside the fog threatens to banish the world but inside the lights are on and God is present in the lives of us, his people. Present through our dancing conversations roaming in the wilderness from randomness to reality. (I like that sentence). In a reality that, though invisible, is very tanglible.

Once again Martyn Joesph expresses it better than I could, this meeting of souls, that as the Body meets together, God comes and does his work within us, through us and around us.

"This is us, we, you and me together we are home..
We’re a stupid man, a dreamer
Got fire in a soul
A fighting, writing, wronging
A broken God shaped hole
Stand with you in the desert
Walk with you on the path
And the truth is I'm not joking
And I hope that you won't laugh

This is us, we, you and me together we are home..
Bring on all the doubter’s
And those who know too much
To gather in the darkness
And find a common touch
Got no doubt we need justice
Got no doubt we need some faith
Got no doubt that love's a mystery
I’m holding on to the tails of her grace"
(Martyn Joesph)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Thinking about Books

Ever since the esteemed Bluefishwrote the words, “theological books are the best books”, my brain has been ticking over what I think are the best books in the world.

Here’s my own thoughts: The best books in the world (for me?) are those that speak of the reality of who we are as humans, that remind me of what we are doing here, that make me see that others wonder the same as I, that express the questions, the whys and wherefores of living in this messy world. Books that tell stories of what it is like to be human. That wrestle with the question of what any of this world means. Some of these I have found in the world of theology (Mr Eugene Peterson being a classic example) but most outside. The most recent book that is doing that to my brain is: ‘Moondust’ by Andrew Smith.

It’s a book about the nine people still remaining who have stood on the moon. Think about that for a second and it does your head in, people who have stood on the moon. Look at it out of your window tonight and feel your brain imploding at the thought. It’s written by a guy wondering how you come back to earth after that, how you deal with having seen the bigger picture of Earth from above, and who wonders what it all meant, if anything at all.

There is something about the quest for meaning that connects inside me. Probably because I search for that myself, for some kind of purpose to this world. It’s good to ask that question and it’s good to explore all the other things that define my life, that give it meaning. The good things of this world. Friends, sunshine, the sea, the Lake District, cups of tea, good food, pubs and long conversations. Usually I discover that none of these things make any sense at all without them being shot through with the reality of the Maker. But it’s good to feel the questions without skipping to the end. To discover that the answer is more deeper and real than we could imagine, and to sometimes stand out in the rain with no answers.

Friday, March 03, 2006

As promised

Photos from the evening of Pancake. Lots of lovely mess and my Danish housemate demonstrating the art of the perfect pancake. Mmmm.