Sunday, 26 August 2007

Pay It Forward...the noo!

Having read Ann and Richard's holiday shinnanigans ( see side panel for links) I feel a fraud when I think of what made me cry while we were away.

Bonnie Scotland was less than bonnie when we arrived at Glen Nevis Camping and Caravan Park - it had been raining solidily for 3 weeks and the pitch we had been given was boggy in places. Neighbours advised us of the best place in the quicksand to pitch and soon we were gazing proudly at our very brightly coloured trailer tent - looking slightly out of place in amongst the muted greens and blues of our neighbours, but we had arrived. However, day one was not yet over and already I had half a black bag of washing..and it was still raining. In fact it hardly stopped for the next 24 hours and by the time we were making our way out for day 2 I had a full bag of washing, had argued with Thomas ( a misunderstanding, but horrible none the less) and then I began to cry.

The ground keepers at the site agreed that we were in an awful position and said they would return in the afternoon and help us move to a more suitable pitch, so off we went to explore Fort William in the rain.

The groundsmen could not have been more helpful, but here's where the Pay It Forward starts. A family were watching the goings on and the dad ( Andrew) came over and asked if the kids wanted to hang out in their tent with his kids. All my Safe and Sound antennae were twanging like mad, but the kids were getting soaked and we could see them all the time so off they went. It's kind of different when you go camping - everyone really mucks in.

That wasn't all - he then came over to help, plyed us with coffee, invited Joe in to watch a dvd on their PSP and helped some more. Needless to say we remained friends for the rest of the week.

Later, through the rain, the sun came out and what was plastered over the hills behind the site - a rainbow, we could even see the end of it!
Then, on the Monday a guy arrived on site with three children and was having a nightmare putting up his tent.I felt bad just sitting and watching him, but Keith and Joe had gone off for a bike ride,and knowing my tent putting up skills are pretty lame went to offer them anyway. He declined, so I offered to make him a drink, which he also declined, but I had payed it forward and set the tone for what was to become another great friendship for the duration.
HowALL the kids ended up in our tent most evenings eludes me somewhat, but it was great.

Scotland is a land born out of conflict. It's very existance is down to some rather violent volcanic eruptions and sliding together of fault lines pushing up random mountains ranges, with glens and lochs filled with melt water from the ice age! Fighting for political independance, the Scots fiercely mark out that they are Scottish in anyway that they can: The National Trust, SCOTLAND; The Daily Mail SCOTLAND in fact any daily paper SCOTLAND.

The Highlands are littered with Battle Sites, we visited Culloden and were embarrased to be on the side of the percieved baddies. We drove through Glenshiels -site of another Jacobite uprising. We read of the Clan Wars and I could see how people would be prepared to die for a patch of the beautiful if unforgiving land.

But we also visited what has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world - Loch Sheil at Glenfinnan. Historically important as it is said that Bonnie Prince Charlie landed there from France to raise his fathers standard and begin the Jacobite Uprising, and it also has the viaduct used in the filming of Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets but all that aside, stunning anyway.
While we were there we must have taken about 20 photos and looking at them the sky is different on each one, the shadows on the mountains are different and ripples on the loch are different and we were only there about half an hour.

Was this Loch and the surrounding hills the result of some random clashing of tectonic plates or did God think long and hard about placing this hill here and that rock there and know that when the sun shines on it from any angle it could, if you were in the right frame of mind, break your heart?
I don't know, but I do know that I was reminded that day that God NEVER changes, no matter how much the landscape appears to and wondered how someone so constant could create a world so amazingly diverse, so awesomly beautiful...yes and sometimes so randomly ugly; why slugs, I just don't get it?
We returned to Glenfinnan later that week for their Highland Games, the sky was grey, the rain fell in buckets, but still folks in kilts tossed cabers, swung hammers, danced the Highland Fling and piped their hearts out and there is nothing quite a stirring as the drone and skirl of the bagpipe on the banks of a Loch. I cried again.
We also visited Fingal's Cave on the Island of Staffa, just off Mull. Another jaw dropper, but be warned, there are no loos on Staffa, you can just about hold on to the Island as you creep around on million year old basalt paving slabs!
The only mountains I have now and ones made out of clothes to be ironed - ho hum, home sweet home.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

These are TWO of ....

Today I had the offer of a pot of Green and Blacks Chocolate Ice Cream , which I didn't turn down, and OH MY WORD it was truely divine.

Also, I have rediscovered Diva by Annie Lennox. A seriously timeless album, many of the tunes evoking memories of those early heady days after Joe was born and the world was good, or at least more peaceful that it seems to be these days.

If music can be delicious, then this collection of tunes totally IS!

'Precious Little Angel', 'Walking on Broken Glass' and the uplifing, if oddly disturbing 'COLD'.

Chocolate and music, could there be a better combination, do you think?

( Tom and Jerry is NOT allowed!)

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Invisible or Transparent.

This snappy title has been rolling around in my head for a while when our meetings were about Faith. AM Unbelief and PM Exposure.

My morning thought was about a quote which suggested something along the lines of - the more doubts we have, the deeper our faith is, the less we doubt the shallower our faith is. I was distracted by that for a moment.I get the concept, but was prompted to to think about friends who have the gift of faith and just don't doubt for a moment. Some of them have pretty deep faith. I guess there is always an exception.

Following this up with a chat with one or two people I was challenged to consider that faith, or the appearance of it could sometimes be considered as a kind of lacking of spiritual responsibility. Does that way we attribute various things - inspiration, opportunities etc to God equate to us shirking some kind of responsibilty towards those 'things'

OR maybe it's easier to believe than doubt, because doubting means thinking and thinking means looking inside ourselves, dregging up stuff that just isn't pretty. Thinking means finding the time to explore the thoughts and sometimes time to do that is hard to come by. Thinking and doubting also means spending quality time with!

Does than mean that belief is the easy option then?- did the father of the possessed boy ( Mark 9 v 24))say 'Help my unbelief ' because he wanted an easier life? Did he somehow think it would be the right thing to say to make Jesus more likely to heal his son, particularly as Jesus has just seemed to have dispaired of the unbelief of the 'generation' ( v 19)? How different was his life and how much deeper was his faith after he witnesed a miracle...and would it be easier to believe after seeing something incredible like that.

Just musings you understand.

However the evening meeting prompted the blog title, as we were thinking about having our faith/motivation/everything exposed before God, to be totally transparent.

I have to admit to sometimes feeling like a complete fraud. I feel totally transparent and exposed and assume that everyone else knows more than I do, has more experience than me, is better qualified ( NOT hard!) and can really see me for what I am. Now it might just be my hormones that cause this occasional paranoia and maybe it's God's way , if He works like this, of keeping me humble, but it's jolly uncomfortable

I once had a friend who did really well in her her job and got promoted really fast and we all congratulated her. 'How did you manage in the interview?' we asked. Her response I BLUFFED!!

Sometimes I feel like I'm bluffing!

Of course, there is the 'transparent' that means we are totally honest, our motives are pure and we have left a trail of accountability for all to see. The problem here is that even if WE think we are like that, we will always be judged by other people's standards and motives will always be questioned.

Sorry this is a bit of a gloomy blog, and I haven't been 'misunderstood' lately, that I'm aware of, to promp this angst, it's just how I feel.

Then I read Cedric's blog about the beauitiful and transparent building that is IHQ ( The Salvation Army's International Headquarters)

A building that can be seen into and out of but how much impact does what goes on there have on the people that walk past it everyday? Might it just as well be INVISIBLE?
Might I just as well be invisible? Might you?
There might be a part two to this at some point as this still feels unfinished and illusive, but I was fed up of it being in my draft box!