Archive for the ‘out and about’ Category


Monday, January 13th, 2014

I noticed him across the foyer.

One leg-the left-was badly deformed, which meant he hopped rather than walked. His body was damaged in other ways too, perhaps an accident with a car, or another vehicle, was to blame. Or perhaps it was the result of a fight. Who knows? His disability was not what first caught my eye, though. It was his determination and bravery. The pigeon -ever watchful- hopped closer and closer, one eye firmly on me, until he reached the trail of crumbs.

Those crumbs also have a story. A story of a child sitting close by, moments before, eating her pasty with full concentration, her parent close by, keeping an eye on the travel announcements.  Having eaten, the child stood up, and an avalanche of flaky pastry crumbs cascaded to the ground, unnoticed by all except by me. And the pigeon.

city protest

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

a few weeks ago – in Sheffield – I saw some city protesters. I took a couple of good photos (one in particular is very good) but have tried to post that (on several occasions) with these thoughts and it just doesn’t want to play ball.

The protestors were not moving and were dressed in black, blindfolded and holding a noose. There were several of them … in a circle looking outwards. (for their protection there was both a chaplain and a street policeman nearby).

What were they protesting? Capital Punishment – in particular the execution of Reggie Clemons. You can read more about that case here . The protest was done as part of  Amnesty International.

What I found really moving was the silent protest in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life in Sheffield. My friend and I stood there for a few minutes watching, thinking praying. What I found fascinating was the ordinary people (shoppers, those who work in the area etc) and their reactions. The parable of the good samaritan came to mind several times with people crossing the square and looking down or looking busy so as not to get involved in any way – not even emotionally.

The protest of these (mostly young) men and women that day was a very powerful witness.

Random thoughts on a sunny but icy winter afternoon

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

I’m over here in Ashbourne, Derbyshire this weekend.

It’s on the other side of the peak national park, and  rural England, but definitely not nearly as rural as my usual location. Today for example I could easily walk into ‘town’, a town which has a market, a post-office, not one but two chemists, several supermarkets, and best of all a handful of charity shops. Secondhand shops are my secret passion and that’s where I do my equivalent of retail therapy.
Yesterday though I did something a bit different to my usual ‘respite weekend’. I arrived here earlier than usual and met with my friend (the local vicar) for lunch. It was wonderful. I mean the food was very good – we had smoked salmon bagels and a wonderful cup of coffee in a local café-gallery, but even better was our  sharing life with each other again. All too often, sadly, we are more like ‘ships passing in the night’ on my visits, but this time our diaries matched. Yay.
I’ve had time since yesterday to think about some of the things we discussed. That’s always good. And that, together with an almost memorable quote from Eugene Peterson’s The Contemplative Pastor (which I am re-reading, theoretically  as an aid to my PhD but actually because it’s so good for me!)

A number of years ago I was a busy pastor and had some back trouble that required therapy. I went for one hour sessions three times a week, and no one minded because I wasn’t available for those three hours. Because the three hours had the authority of an appointment calendar behind them, they were sacroscant.

On the analogy of that experience, I venture to prescribe appointments for myself to take care not only of my body, but also of my mind and emotions, my spirit and my imagination.  One week in addition to daily half-hour conferences with St Paul [love it!] my calendar reserved a two-hour block of time with Fyodor Doestoevsky. My spirit needed that as much as my body ten years ago needed the physical therapist. If nobody is going to prescribe it for me, I will prescribe it for myself. (p.23)

There’s nothing new in what Peterson writes. I have good friends back in Finland, all of whom do precisely what he recommends. One books a three day retreat every quarter. She may or may not go on retreat, but she will bolt herself in somewhere with God. Another meets with CS Lewis regularly in much the same way as Peterson meets St Paul daily.
I’ve still to adopt a practice that really works for me … but I am working on it. I easily get overwhelmed by ‘doing too much’ … and then I’m unable to be the person God’s really called me to be. When I’m tired and drained I’m more likely to be angry or snappy (as a friend put it) and I don’t actually study well in the frame of mind either.
My daily encounter with the pool really helps.

While in England I haven’t been able to use it as much as a prayer closet as I used to in Finland, but swimming for 40 minutes or so in the mornings helps give me time alone with my thoughts and time with God, and without it I’d probably be a basket case.

On it’s own it’s not enough,though, so walking with my camera and trying to spot God at work in my world is good too, but in all honesty a half hour meeting with St Paul or others would go a long way to confronting the powers of busy-ness which often just aren’t from God at all. There’s a catchphrase we’d all do well to remember:

We aren’t human doings we’re human beings

… so take time today, and tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, just to be.

I know I need to, cos as John Wimber once famously said ‘whether we’re out raising the dead or taking a nap, the pay in the Kingdom of God is the same’. That’s not a call to complacency and idleness, but it is a call to give up performance orientation and striving and learn to rest in God.



Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

I saw the most wonderful moonrise yesterday evening. Sadly I didn’t have my camera with me. Tonight I did, but the moon didn’t appear in the same place/way … and now it’s cloudy – go figure.

Somethings are probably just to be enjoyed ‘in the moment’ and then remembered.

(almost half way)

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

It struck me tonight that since I’ve been here since almost the beginning of September and will only fly home to Finland for Christmas in mid December´-we are rapidly approaching mid-term, mid-semester break! The full time BA students have a reading week this coming week (wish I did!) plus a modular speciality week the following. Then it will be early November and business as usual.

Wonderful weather again this weekend (feeling terribly spoilt!) which meant a walk up on the Edge again on Saturday and this afternoon I wandered up Cliff Lane to help my friends with some autumn gardening. They have bought a log splitting device that does work but which I think hubby and other Finns would simply smirk at. I didn’t try it, but rather spent the afternoon in the sun raking leaves and filling three big green bins with garden waste.


dyslexic and disillusioned

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

During the last few nights there have been serious riots here in the United Kingdom. I was still in London when the first – in Tottenham, North London, – blew up; and since then it’s escalated to other parts of the nation – including the midlands (Birmingham, Liverpool and Nottingham) but thankfully not (yet) Leicester where I am right now.

Listening to the radio this morning (my friend was waiting for the man to come and connect the tv and internet) the presenter asked that if being dyslexic and disillusioned is any excuse for lobbing bricks through shop windows.

It’s an interesting question isn’t it?

Personally, I think it’s a crazy starting point – and more of the trend to blame others (society, illnesses etc) for downright irresponsible and yes sinful beahviour instead of taking personal responsibility… but what IS interesting to me is the fact that many of those rioting and looting now are teenagers and young people not necessarily hardened gang members.

One criminologist, Prof John Pitts, blamed “the school holidays and longer nights”. Which is equally crazy as blaming dyslexia IMHO.

I don’t know all the ins and outs or the real causes for the peaceful demonstration (against the police shooting of a young man in North London) turning into a riot in Tottenham, but it does strike me that the more parents fail to engage with their kids (of all age), and the more local governments fail to offer decent education and real activities for youngsters (with youth leaders) then the gangs will continue to attract and influence ordinary working class kids in all kinds of inner city communities.

And that has to be bad news for all of us

The same criminologist went on to say looting makes “powerless people suddenly feel powerful” … and that was “very intoxicating”! No surprise there.

The best bit of advice I heard however was on the TV News.

One person interviewed said that if a teen comes home with new trainers, sports jacket or a mobile then their parents /guardians can assume they’ve been involved in the rioting or buying stuff that has been looted and to be on guard  It’s not easy … these youngsters will be lured  by the buzz and be drawn back onto the streets … and the risks there are escalating. The police (and possibly army) will not allow young thugs to take control … and will secure the streets whatever it takes. That will mean casualties, it might mean fatalities , it will certainly mean arrests and criminal records… so I do hope that families, neighbours and friends keep their youngsters at home.

Pray for peace in the inner cities of England tonight

Pray for wise decisions and good leadership from community leaders

& Pray too for the churches in England (and leaders of all religious communities) to be places which do offer these young people – and their families- a hope and a future not just in the after life, but here and now.


Sunday, July 31st, 2011

One neat tradition in London is going to the park on a Sunday afternoon to listen to the band.


I did just that today – in St James’ Park (which is the park the Royals can see from the balcony at Buckingham Palace). It was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours – a chance just to ‘be’ after a somewhat hectic week of helping my friend pack up home (hard work) and playing the tourist!

I was born in London and lived here (on and off because of boarding school) for most of my childhood. So I’ve really enjoyed having a sort of second home here for the past 18 months or so. It’s been wonderful to re-discover my roots, discover new haunts such as the docklands (which I visited earlier this week) … London has changed beyond recognition in some respects, but in others it’s the town that was – for so long- my home town.

I got a big kick out of watching the people sitting on the grass / in deck-chairs listening to the band. And it struck me that part of our spiritual discipline really ought to be finding a place each week (if not each day) where we can just ‘be’ and stop striving. Today lying in the sun (yes it’s sunny here in London at the moment!!) on the grass by the bandstand was such a place … but I need to make more of an effort to re-charge the tank (physically mentally and spiritually) … today was a good start though (grin)


Thursday, July 28th, 2011

The East end of London was traditionally the working class and poor area of London, home of the docks. The difference between it and the west end is captured beautifully in the King’s Speech when the new King and his beautiful wife encourage the Londoners to dig for victory. Some say that Hitler though the Queen was the most dangerous woman in Britain!

Since then the docklands has changed beyond recognition.

Today I got to explore the dockland’s museum (brilliant section on the slave trade but also unexpectedly on the political changes when Murdoch took on the Times’ and the then ‘battle’ for the docklands) and then excitedly went on the DLR (docklands light railway) over to Greenwich for the first time.

Greenwich is home to the maritime museum (which I never got to!), there are fabulous historical buildings (such as the painted hall and chapel) and the royal observatory. For most it’s most famous for the imaginary (theoretical) line which runs through it – from North to South – the prime meridian. Today I understood – for the first time – the link between knowing the exact time in Greenwich and the exact time locally was important in locating where one really was! And in a most marvellous guided tour heard about Hamilton’s route to inventing a clock that could be used at sea to do exactly that. It was fascinating.

I was born in London, actually not that far from the 0 0′ 0″ line, but I’d never really understood its historical significance until today.

What was really interesting is that in Greenwich there were (are) three meridian lines.


The one we know as the prime – was simply the one favoured by one astronomer royal, Airy.  And another snippet I found out. The reason the line in Greenwich became the internationally adopted one was – in part- due to the French backing down from voting for the one in Paris on condition that the British would move towards a decimal system when the time was right. Ha. They are still waiting for that  to (fully) happen.

kissing toads …

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

had to laugh at this

The church growth strategy we never thought of

Kate Middleton gets confirmed by the Bishop of London, ahead of the royal wedding. That’s what I call a successful church growth strategy – anyone who wants to marry a handsome prince has to get confirmed into the church. Cant lose! Except for the fact that handsome princes are in short supply.

Thanks Tall Skinny Kiwi

getting ready

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Over in Jr church my friend Storyteller has introduced a ‘getting ready song’

Legs criss crossed, legs criss crossed
Hands on our knees, hands on our knees
Quiet on the inside, quiet on the inside
ready for the story lesson, ready for the lesson

As I was walking one of our dogs at the crack of dawn this morning I found myself singing this and getting “quiet on the inside”, expectant for the things God would show and teach me today.


““Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” – 1 Cor 15:55-58