Thursday, 28 May 2009

Jury is out about the Jury Party

Did anyone see the Jury Party political broadcast? Was it me or was there not one single policy? I listened really hard but couldn't spot one.

I've always had a soft spot for independents (not enough to vote for one though!) But this is not about independents - how can they operate as a party? 

I want to know what a party's policy is on Education, Defense, Health Care, Europe, Human Rights, Environment.... etc.

Most importantly I want to encourage people to vote for one of the big 3 so that BNP, UKIP and other parties that promote hate, fear and have no track record in any form of leadership, don't get seats.

I was in Burnley when BNP councillors got in and they were pathetic, never turned up to meetings, did no work and wondered why they didn't get in again. I hope and pray that people will not take revenge on the MPs by voting for people who are clearly unfit to govern and who base their policies on hate, fear and bigotry.

Study of delight

There is nothing quite like a tidy study! It is a thing of wonder and delight - possibly because it is such a rare thing. I feel much more like getting things done when I can see the wood that my desk is made of and I'm not tripping over piles of unresolved paperwork. (Just don't look in any cupboards or drawers unless you want the fantasy of neat, orderly bliss to end.)

There are down sides to spending a whole day of your holiday tidying up - firstly not really an appropriate thing to do on holiday. Secondly I am reminded of all those little jobs that I've been ignoring for sooooo long. Mind you some of them are now past their sell by date - yippee. Thirdly - and this is a mixed blessing - I have seen again all the books that I have bought in the last few months. They look up at me expectantly, smiling a warm invitation and yet, again and again I let them down. My lack of time and ability to prioritise it means I neglect these literary wonders - to the detriment of my preaching, humour, intelligence.... Do I have to wait another 3 years for a sabbatical before I get to some serious (or frivolous reading)? 

Perhaps a tidy desk will create space in my head and diary as well - or am I really dreaming?

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Rachel Writing Again



The nurse draws the stiff white sheet

over the face

as the doctor clips her pen to the clipboard.


“A classic case” she says. 

“The damage was


over many years.”


“A hardening of the oughteries

led to reduced circulation of

spontaneity and laughter

around the body. 


This allowed a build up of


in the internal organs with pooling of

stress and anxiety

at the extremities.” 


“There was also evidence of crushing to the vertebrae;

the last straw,


having never been reached.”


“The irony is”, said the doctor

“that she had the medication in her pocket. 

But the lid was adult-proof

and the child inside her, that might have opened it,

had long since gone away.”



Rachel Parkinson.  Whitby.  May 2009

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Body of Christ doing our job properly!

There are occasions when one wonders why we bother with evening services in many churches. Numbers are low, sometimes only those with jobs to do turn up and a lot of heat, light, service planning, etc goes into the event.

Not tonight though. Five minutes before the service was due to start two women came into church, both in tears and asked if they could light a candle. The steward made a stirling effort and found some tea-lights and holders and even matches (non of these being out for the casual visitor's use).

The younger woman's sister's baby had just died, only a few days old, following a very difficult labour and birth. The older woman was her mother-in-law and had come along to support her in praying. 

They stayed for the service, surrounded by church members who had never met them before but who quickly put flowers into a vase next to the candles (and gave flowers afterwards), who sensitively offered support without being overwhelming. 

The prayers and hymns I had prepared were worryingly appropriate! To the point where at times my heart sank as we sang another hymn that talked about God's children, life out of death, joy out of grief - all perfectly standard hymns but suddenly much more pointed and meaningful.

My own niece was still born at 39 weeks gestation and, though some years ago, there was no escaping the pain that washed over me in the face of this desperately sad story. I struggled to preach and singing 'abide with me' as the planned last hymn was almost too much - but somehow facing the pain was better than changing at the last minute to choose something less meaningful.

I was so proud that the church was open and able to support these two women. We may never see them again (they may associate us with this painful incident too strongly - as well as with care and compassion). The Kingdom of God broke through in the welcome, the hospitality and even in the 'too appropriate' liturgy and hymns. 

Who knows how many people walk to locked churches looking for a comfort or space that is not there?

Friday, 8 May 2009

Church Magazine Articles

I seem to have to write a lot of them and my problem is I'm not sure what they are for. Is it a chance for me to share with folk what I've been up to (boring!), some vision for the church, some news (there are others who do that better)? Should it be a spiritual pondering or something to inspire action (both?). One Church steward thinks I should do them because I'm clearly 'too busy to see people, so it's a way of keeping in touch' - please I don't even keep in touch with friends and family by writing a monthly article!!

There are times when I feel inspired to offer some witty story - but quite a lot of the time I sit down and think 'what on earth shall I put this time?'. What worries me about all this is (apart from a sense of being a bit useless) that I am a writer - I have books published for goodness sake. I guess they came out of a process of living, learning and reflecting and maybe that's not what I'm doing enough of to produce the newsletter articles.

So - why do we do them? Who are we aiming at and... got any ideas?