Welcome to my attempt to live fully and honestly, to sing out the song of myself, to truly know who I am......

.....either that or the ramblings of a barely coherant, tired out mum of two!!

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Magazine Article

Leader's Insight: Shepherding the Sexually Abused
How the pain of childhood abuse affects pastoral relationships.
by Maggie Watson, guest columnist

Do you recognize the following congregants?

With unwavering commitment Emily is dedicated to you—and to your vision. Readily volunteering when needed, she prays for you and regularly affirms your leadership gift. Each time you speak with her, the admiration in her eyes is evident.

Samantha, on the other hand, volunteers only when asked. She is polite and friendly but rarely makes herself available for conversation. And as a result, little is known about her.

Chloe is a tougher read. You sense that she doesn't trust you. Yet, she continues to linger after the service asking question after question, or making appointments to ask you more

Read it here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/currenttrendscolumns/leadershipweekly/cln70402.html

Monday, 23 April 2007

The Power of Names.

Recently our extended family suffered the tragic and painful loss of a beautiful little child.

This event has other resonances for me because of the name this angel carried.

Whilst we were expecting Peter we chatted to Abby’s parents about names. I mentioned that had Peter been a girl we would have named her Abigail. The name means ‘Joy of my father’ or ‘the fathers delight’. There is some discussion about the timing of this conversation but I remember the strong emotional reaction I had when I heard what their new baby was to be called.

We had a similar conversation with my sister in law at around the same time. Both of these families named their daughters ‘Abigail’ which meant that the name was forever lost to me. Though neither of these families said I couldn't use the name in the future there were pressures from elsewhere that made it obvious that this name would now be beyond my reach.

I have loved the name since it was given to a friend’s daughter many years ago. I was overwhelmed by the idea that any little girl could be so named because they were a delight to their daddy. I longed to be in a place where I could feel the joy of naming my own child by the delight in her fathers face. I was heartbroken when Ellie was born and we could no longer even consider the name for our beautiful baby girl.

I know names shouldn’t really matter so much but that name had held all the promise of a ‘Sharon’ made new and whole. Abigail's death was very recent but the tragedy of her loss also stirred up the emotional loss of my Abigail whom I had carried for many years and who died in my heart the year two beautiful Abigails entered our world and our families.

The name of Abigail had become an icon or symbol for a future that could be lived without the shadow of the past. Losing 'my Abigail' felt like losing any possibility of being free from the mire and the muck that clings so tightly that no amount of washing could ever remove it.

A Vat of Crap

I don’t know how a child survives abuse that entails everything but rape by her father and two of three brothers. I don’t know how I survived but I did but I am not whole and perhaps I never will be.

I thought all of this was over – I spent the 90’s in and out of therapy/counselling, I thought I had put it to bed, I thought it was over.

I met and married Mr Blog – probably the healthiest choice I ever made. In time we found we were expecting Peter and after some initial panics I got my head around this huge event. Then we were joined by Ellie and as time passed and I was not visited by the depressions and panics of the past, I stopped expecting them, stopped metaphorically looking over my shoulder and under the bed for the monsters that lurk there. I thought I was free.

I’m not sure what exactly it is that has triggered stuff this time round – and I am scared shitless at the depth and intensity of anger that must have been there for so long. I do know that somehow Peter manages to lift the lid on it and it is taking all my energy to prevent it spilling over on to him.

Idle Pilgrim wrote on her blog about anger strong enough to trash her dining room and I sometimes envy her for the luxury of being the only one around to be hurt by her own wrath. If I lose it like that I run the risk of damaging my husband and my children – it isn’t an option.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Mothering Sunday Exodus 2:1-10, John 19: 25-27 18th March 2007

A mother places her three month old son into a reed basket and leaves him in the river. The baby’s big sister looks on until the baby is found.

A teenage girl arrives home to find the house all locked up and nobody home. She sits shivering and worrying on the doorstep for several hours before her mother returns.

A family gather around to celebrate a happy event. Mum and dad fuss proudly around their young offspring. Everybody is happy.

A father stands at the grave of his wife. His two young sons look bewildered at the mound of freshly dug dirt.

A mother stands at the foot of a cross, watching her son die a cruel and seemingly unjust death, listening to his final words, she weeps.

So here we are, another Mothering Sunday sermon, and I wonder what it is you were expecting? I wonder what it is my mum, sitting over there, is expecting – no pressure then!

If we were to take a quick poll I think we would find as many different experiences of mother as there are people here. Some will think of their own mother, others will think about themselves as mother.

As we can see by the snap shots described at the beginning, there are many and varied experiences of this thing named ‘Mother’.

Some experiences are painful, for some of us ‘Mother’ is not a word that holds much comfort. Perhaps we grew up without our mum, or she was so into her own needs that she failed to notice ours.

Some are good experiences, a mum that always seemed to be there when we needed her, a mum that smiled and laughed with us and taught us the value of love.

And what about our experiences of being ‘Mother’?

Some long to have children but choices and circumstances and nature have conspired to render it impossible.

Some have lost children, in infancy, in adulthood or before they were even born.

Some have children but the baggage they carry from their own childhood makes being a parent so hard, sometimes too hard. And often the cycle of abuse and neglect is continued on to a new generation.

Some take to parenting like ducks to water, rising to every new challenge and loving every part of it.

And then there are the men. At this time of year it is easy to overlook the feelings and needs of men. They too have good and bad experiences of ‘mother’ in a variety of contexts but the focus seems always to be on the women and the men folk barely get a look in.

So along with all of these differing experiences come a number of different expectations.

I have been known to avoid church on Mothering Sunday, especially before Peter and Ellie, came along. I didn’t want to hear about how mums are great and how we should celebrate them. My childhood left me with some issues to deal with and for a while I didn’t feel I had anything to celebrate when it came to the relationship with my mum. Today things are very different and I don’t know what I would do without her – I even find myself wishing sometimes that we lived a lot closer to each other!

The point remains though, that some would rather avoid church on this day altogether rather than sit through a service that only highlights the pain of their situation.

As I was preparing this I was very aware of two families. One of a young woman whose mother died last week and of another where the youngest child, a girl of three, died after a sudden illness. For these families Mothering Sunday this year will have a new and painful resonance as they contemplate their losses.

So with an awareness that one persons joyous occasion maybe another persons nightmare – where do we fit in? What is our place as a church and as individuals in the bigger picture?

Lets look again at the reading from Exodus.

At first glance this could be a reading about abandonment. The mum puts her little baby son into a basket in the river and runs away. We can only guess at the emotion this mother felt as she left her baby and ran away, perhaps praying that some how everything would turn out ok.
In the extract we don’t get any of the background to this action – just that it happened.

The background is that the king had demanded that every Hebrew male newborn should be killed. He was worried that the Hebrew numbers were growing way too fast and the Egyptians had all forgotten about Joseph and what he had done for them.

So this Hebrew mum had hidden her little boy for three months before she left him in the river. She just wanted her son to have the best chance of survival. So she left him where he would be found by elite Egyptian women in the hope that one of them would take care of him.
She left Miriam, the older sister, to keep watch and make sure he was safe and in the end everything did turn out ok. Her little boy grew up to be the one to lead the Hebrew people out of slavery. A happy ending.

Moses became part of a new family and grew up healthy, happy and loved. Modern families are made up in a variety of ways, some of that variety is reflected in our congregation, and we don’t need to venture very far into the community to find more examples.

We are all part of Gods family and as such we have an obligation to support one another, love one another and to be there for one another. In the good times, in the bad times, all of the time.

Come with me for a moment, back to that cross on a lonely hill outside the city walls. Listen – Jesus is speaking to his mother and his closest friend –

Dear woman, here is your son,"

"Here is your mother."

This verse is often discussed in the context of John taking on the care of Mary as she advances in years. As the oldest son this would have been an obligation borne by Jesus. Here he passes that obligation to John.

But – this relationship is not all one sided. Jesus does not just address John; he also speaks to his mum and gives his friend into her safe-keeping.

Jesus has created a new family unit and in doing so provides for the needs of all concerned.

Not all of us have good experiences of motherhood and mothering. So who is responsible for those who didn’t have mothers, or who had bad experiences?

Who is responsible for the lost, the un-mothered?

Who is responsible for the hurting and the vulnerable?

Who is going to care for those who grieve?

Jesus gives an example, in the midst of his own pain, he reaches out to provide his best friend with a mother

He reaches out and provides his mother with someone to care for her and someone for her to take care of.

Here is a reciprocal arrangement of mutual love and support, so that everyone has somebody to look out for and somebody looking out for them.

Who is responsible? We are.

Whose job is it? It is ours.

We are all responsible for each other. We are a family and like all families we are occasionally dysfunctional, but that shouldn’t discourage us from doing all we can for each other.

But it doesn’t stop there. It isn’t enough that we take care of each other within these walls we all so need to bring God’s love to the hurting world on our doorstep and in our local community.

Listen again to the words of Jesus – is there a message for us in our situation 2000 years later?

Dear woman, here is your son,"

"Here is your mother."

St Peters – here is Radford.

Radford – here are people who will care for you.

People of St Peters, here are those amongst you, sitting next to you, who need you. Look after each other care for each other, support one another, nurture one another, love one another.

Monday, 2 April 2007

From a friend....

A woman brings a very limp duck into a veterinary surgery. As she lays the duck on the examination table the vet pulls out his stethoscope and listens to the duck's chest for signs of life.

After a few moments the vet shakes his head and turns to the womanand says sadly, "I'm sorry but the duck has passed away." The distressed owner wails, "Are you sure?""Yes of course I'm sure. The duck is dead," he replies."How can you be so sure?" she protests. "I mean you haven't done any testing - he might be in a coma or something."The vet rolls his eyes and leaves the room. He returns with a black Labrador.As the duck's owner looks in amazement, the dog stands on his hind legs, puts his front paws on the examination table and sniffs the duck from top to bottom. He then looks at the vet and with sad eyes shakes his head.The vet pats the dog on the head and takes him out and returns a few moments later with a cat. The cat jumps up on the table and also sniffs the duck from its beak to its tail at the back end and back again.The cat sits and shakes its head and meows softly, jumps down from the examination table and strolls out of the examination room.
The vet looks at the woman and says, "I am sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck."The vet turns to his computer terminal and after hitting a few keys a bill is printed off, which he hands to the woman. The duck's owner, still in shock, takes the bill. "£450!" she cries. "£450 just to tell me my duck is dead?"
The vet shrugs. "If you had accepted my word for it, the bill would have been only £30. But with the lab report and the cat scan - it all adds up."