“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Jello Neclu

I am wondering when I should get measured up for the zimmer frame. I was out with my daughter today, and somebody texted me. I answered in my customary one-fingered, slow, fashion, and she had hysterics. She pointed out that it would be so much easier if I used both thumbs, and suggested that I tried to send her a text using that method.

So I tried to input "Hello Becky". Except that it came out "Jello Neclu". Oh. 

Also, she is 20 years old this month, which means I am no longer the mother of any teenagers, but the mother of two young people in their twenties. And my knees hurt, and I stiffen up if I sit in one place too long, and I don't have as much stamina as I used to have. Oh dear.

I honestly feel that Jello Neclu really sums up the difference between our generations. Any mobile phone skills that I possess have been acquired over time, and with some difficulty. Whereas my daughter and son seem to be attached to theirs by an invisible umbilical cord, and use them for everything, all the time. And to acquire instant proficiency with each new one they get. 

And I keep mine on all the time, solely so that if either of them wants to get in touch, they can. 

They keep theirs on all the time because they are their lifeline to the wider world.

I do believe that mobile phones are a blessing for keeping in touch with a few special people when you're out and about. But that's it, really. And I cannot help thinking that the time they spend glued to their mobiles might be better spent looking at and interacting with the world around them. I guess I'm just old and out of touch.

But I do love my Sabbath mornings, when I don't turn on the computer, put my mobile on silent, don't have the radio or TV on, and spend the time reading, journalling, stitching, walking in nature. Just being. Not in reaction to anyone else, just being me. 

It is precious time, time, to be mindful, time that I couldn't get if I was stopping every few minutes to answer a text or an e-mail or respond to a Facebook update. I love doing these things, but I also love my time alone, just being. 

Just. Being.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

When Will We Ever Learn?

It is easy to preach peace in time of peace and war in time of war. What is harder is to decide once and for all to repudiate war, and to stick to it, no matter what. Is there ever a 'just war'? I honestly don't know. But I know darn well, that even if the war starts off as fulfilling the Just War criteria, it doesn't stay that way for long.

 Listen to the words of Martin Bell, writing on the Movement for the Abolition of War website: "We have reached a state of affairs where for our own survival, and that of our planet, we cannot afford a future like our past.  We face new forces, of global warming and nuclear proliferation, which threaten our future as never before. I suggest there is a further danger, perhaps less obvious and unperceived, but just as far-reaching in its implications: this is that, for those who govern us, war has become not a last, desperate resort when all else has failed, but a policy option to be plucked off the shelf like any other. We have seen this most recently and appallingly in the war in Iraq. ... It was a war of choice - just as the Great War of 1914-18 was a war of choice."

It is now generally accepted that World War One was a senseless waste of human life. But most folk would argue that World War Two was justified, on the grounds that Hitler had to be stopped. However, like most wars, this too soon got out of hand, and both sides bombed civilians indiscriminately, culminating in the unprecedented horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And today, this country, the United Kingdom, is one of the major players in selling armaments to the world, being the second biggest exporter after the United States. For example, as Jo Lewington writes: "The tension between India and Pakistan makes South Asia one of the most volatile regions of the world, yet the UK supplies arms to both countries. UK Government officials and ministers, of both major parties, actively promote these sales, with personal interventions and an active presence at arms fairs in both countries." We are also one of the two leading exporters of arms to Israel. Not a record to be proud of.

Which makes it ever more important that the witness for peace should be heard.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Such Sweet Sorrow

It is never easy to say goodbye, and to move on, even when it is necessary, and when what you're moving on to is going to be really good. But such is life.

For a reason which I don't need to go into here, I'm stepping down from my role as Secretary of the Unitarian Association for Lay Ministry, which I've held for the past six years. That November evening in 2008, a few members of the nearly defunct Unitarian Association of Lay Leaders met at Great Hucklow, determined to keep the association going. Because we knew how important it was for lay worship leaders to have someone they could turn to, for advice and support.

At that AGM in 2008, it was decided that a name change was required, to reflect the Association's broadening remit. Our new name, Unitarian Association for Lay Ministry, was chosen to indicate that we see our principal role as that of supporting lay ministry in all its forms, not just those with pastoral oversight for a congregation.

The six years since then have been an exciting and enriching experience for all concerned.  Membership has nearly trebled to over 60, and as David Monk wrote on the History page of our website "We communicate with each other, support each other, learn from each other, and continually pull together in seeking to achieve our objectives." We have also been consulted about changes affecting lay worship leaders and congregational leaders, and have made the views of our members known. We have a good website and a twice-yearly newsletter. Our annual conference usually attracts about 25 folk, and our close links with the Worship Studies Course ensure that we remain fresh and up-to-date.

So it's going to be hard to walk away, and let other folk step in. I am so very proud of what the Association has accomplished in the last six years, and confident that it will go on from strength to strength, as more and more trained worship leaders from the Worship Studies Course Foundation Step join us.

As Tim Radford wrote in The Guardian in 2005, "In a here-today, gone-tomorrow world, there is a certain satisfaction in having existed at all. The exuberant joy of being is tempered by the wistful knowledge that nothing is forever. The Romans had a phrase for it: ave atque vale, hail and farewell. ... Parting, neuropsychologists say, is a stretching of emotional bonds: the sorrow is tinged with the sweetness of the memories."

And so I have found. And so I feel now. Ave atque vale indeed.