Pictures on the news this morning: I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry in response. Adults getting into a branch of Next, when it opened its sale at 6am, pushing and shoving to get through the door. The learners at school do that to get into my LRC when I open morning homework club. I tell them to stand in the corridor and grow up before I let them in, if they push and jostle too much! You kind of expect it from kids, but you would think that adults would know better. I’m 33 and I don’t feel sensible enough to be an adult, but I certainly wouldn’t be doing that, and I definitely wouldn’t be queuing to get into the sales at that time in a morning! I’ve worked during them, and that’s enough to put you off, especially the first few days. I love spoiling other people, and when I’m buying things, I like my bargains as much as the next person, but it is true that i don’t like buying things for myself. Everything I do is for others, and stopping me from giving those I love gifts, would be like cutting off one of my limbs! I was bullied at various times in my life, and now I am blessed with friends, and lots of them. I still cannot comprehend, considering my history, that there are now people who like me, love me and want to spend time with me. I don’t think I will ever totally be able to understand that, but it think as problems go, it’s probably quite a nice issue to have!!
I think it is self evident to all that this message needs to be at the cornerstone of our existence at all times, not simply at Christmas. I endeavour to do this as much as I can, although I appreciate how difficult it is. This world needs love and care for each other, but not just something that is in reality cold, and just on the surface of our characters. It needs to be genuine, heartfelt and not just for show. If we set out to show love and care for our fellow creatures of existence, and it needs to be fully inclusive. I will need to work on this, as even though I do work to support the homeless, I was intimidated by one of the surface users I met once. Others I’ve met have been really nice, despite everything they’ve been through. This one guy seemed ungrateful and keen on playing with the rules (the homeless hostel I support has strict rules on alcohol and drugs not being on the premises), which annoyed me, as anyone who has got into the hostel is lucky (it only has 46 beds, always full) and there are always people waiting for a place. It is an opportunity not to be trifled with, and those who genuinely want to take the second chance and make a success of it, in my expereince , are all sensitive to this. I need to overcome my fear and my irritation. It is not helpful, considering what I am trying to do! I’m not naive about people who have the issues I encounter at the hostel, but if you have got in there, you need to use that chance wisely, and not squander what you have been given.
Christmas starts on Christmas Day and goes on until the first Sunday in February, known as Candlemas. I wish everyone a blessed and peaceful time, filled with love and care for all.
I’ve pondered this. Panic attacks can be random and triggered by practically anything, in my experience. However, if there is something that is bound to cause issues, the sensible thing surely, would be to avoid it. However, things are never that simple. I cannot cope properly with anything life throws at me. I especially struggle with work, and always have done. However, work, and holding down a job, is something that all doctors will recommend is a depressive’s aim. It gives the sufferer some sense of self-worth that is often absent. for want of a better phrase, it’s making the sufferer part of “normal” society, although I don’t really like the word “normal”. The concept of working, volunteering, being out doing things, improving mental health, is the theory at least. I do things at church, and I have a social life, both of which were recommendations from my doctor. I did charity volunteering while I was rebuilding my stamina, to be able to cope with a day’s work. However, I did not find any of it easy, and still don’t now. I often find myself panicking after wards about something i said or did which could have upset or angered someone. Either that or someone says something to me, that upsets me, and more often then not sends me down the “I’m a waste of space, and doesn’t deserve to be alive” path. It’s all about challenging yourself I guess, but there are times when the paranoia and panic have exhausted me more than the activity itself, that you begin to wonder why you do it. There is enjoyment, and from my perspective, I need people’s approbation, as I have no self belief or confidence. However, this is often short-lived. The pleasure and enjoyment is there, but it really doesn’t seem to last that long, before you hit rock bottom again.
I’ve seen two headlines in the past two or three days, one in India, one in Australia, about rulings to legalise gay marriage being suddenly overturned. Couples in Australia who got married last Saturday suddently find themselves “unmarried”. I know homosexuality is a divisive issue, not least in my own church, the church of England (I do not agree with the church’s stance). I personally (I have to say that, working in a Catholic school) do not see an issue with gay relationships or marriage. Many claim it causes issues for children to not have a man and a woman as a parent. Why? They have a loving family. There are enough children in this world who are abused and mistreated within nuclear family structures. There is no reason to say a “dysfunctional” (using the sociological term) family structure (so any family not involving a mother and a father, as opposed to a single parent, or a same-sex relationship) cannot work. In a world where there is so much hatred, so much anger, we need to open our arms and our hearts, be accepting of each other with all our differences, and to just start loving and caring. That is what this world needs, as cliched as it may be. It needs a massive, bone-crushing hug.
I’ve noticed that all I seem to post about is religious and ethical/moral stuff, which while close to my heart, is plainly why no one visits my site any more, apart from spammers, or at least that’s how it seems! I’m thinking and struggling to know what to say. Advent and Christmas (for me Christmas only starts on Christmas Day. It doesn’t end) are joyful, charitable times, but are also filled with fun and prettiness. Like fireworks, I also love fairy lights. My mum is starting to make some improvement from her illness, and so with my dad’s help, has put some decorations up inside the house, which was really lovely to come home to last night, as I had driven past houses on my estate, which were festooned inside and out, from what I could see. I love seeing the different colours, and different shapes and figures. A couple of my neighbours have electric blue lights in their gardens which look amazing in the dark. I’m afraid I can’t help thinking about those who have little or nothing at this time, but I will confess to liking the sparkle, the glitter, the prettiness and yeah, ok, the cheese and tackiness of some of the decorations you can see at Christmas. I really do love it!
After the day of fasting and prayer for peace declared and observed by Pope Francis on September 7th, 4th December was a day declared by the Bishops of England and Wales, of the Catholic Church, to be a day of prayer for Syria. it was chosen because it was the feast day of St John of Damascus (above) and thus provides a way of linking the early Church with the living community of Middle Eastern Christians and their vocation as peace-builders. The Bishops prayed that the example of St John’s life can serve to inspire Christians, Muslims and Jews to work for reconciliation and justice.
Prayers for Peace
O God of peace, who are peace itself
and whom a spirit of discord cannot grasp,
nor a violent mind receive,
grant that those who are one in heart
may persevere in what is good
and that those in conflict
may forget evil and so be healed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
St John Damascene, pray for us.
One of the most inspiring figures of the 20th and 21st centuries. He stood, and still stands for peace, tolerance and love of all. He broke down barriers not just in South Africa, but all over the world. His influence was not just political, but ethical and moral too. In a country where HIV and AIDS carries a stigma akin to leprosy in Jesus’ time, Mandela spoke honestly when one of his own family died of the disease. If South Africans would respond to anyone, they would respond to Madiba. As the crowds dance and sing anti-apartheid movement songs outside his house, I think the whole world will continue to respond to him, in death, as they did in life.
Let us pray that another area of the world where an apartheid threatens to overtake everything (Israel/Palestine), will find the strength and the courage that we all know is there, to follow in Madiba’s footsteps, to live in peace, harmony and tolerance with, and acceptance of, one another. Pray that the wall will come down, and all people will no longer be divided from their homes, land, and livelihood. It is everyone accepting all, or face the decline into the abyss. Acceptance, tolerance and harmony are needed in many places in this world, including in the UK, where I hear unhelpful attitudes expressed every day of the week, but in this one particular place, I know it is needed more then ever. Amen.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM
We remember all who have died in conflicts throughout the decades everywhere. not glorifying war, but honouring sacrifice. Those who train in the armed forces know that this is possibly how they will end their lives. They are still brave to do what they do, as I know I would not have the strength of character to survive what they have been through.
At this time Lord, we remember those passed before us, to reside with You forever;
Joan Margaret Shillingford
May they rest in please, and we the mourners be comforted by the gift of meeting again in eternal life with you, Lord
I should’ve done this before, but life itself takes over. St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, who was crucified on a cross like the one on the Scottish flag. The flag is called a saltire. St Andrew was the brother of St Peter, and both were fishermen. They were the first two who decided to follow Jesus, leaving everything else behind. They were the first disciples, and after Jesus’s death, resurrection and rising to Heaven, became Apostles and continued to spread Jesus’ word. Andrew is said to be the one who told Jesus about a little boy having five loaves and two fish with him, one day when Jesus was preaching. This became the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Like Peter who was crucified on an upside down cross as he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus, Andrew was crucified on the saltire, or St Andrew’s cross as it is now known, for the same reason of unworthingness of comparisons to Jesus.
A Prayer for St Andrew’s Day
God, our loving Father,
St Andrew introduced Peter,
the Greek visitors,
& the little boy with loaves & fishes,
to your Son, Jesus Christ.
May we be like him
in sharing friendship and hospitality,
and in faithfulness to Jesus
and his Kingdom of justice,
love & peace.
May our country be a community
in which everyone matters,
everyone has an honoured place,
and the dignity of each is assured
by our faith in you as Father of us all.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.