Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sport, Health, Encouragement.

On the whole, it would be fair to state I am not generally that interested in sport either as spectator or participant. Other than occasionally. Long time readers of this blog may be aware I have a kind of masochistic tendency to support Scotland during the Six Nations tournament, I have been known to enjoy Wimbledon some years, I have taken far more interest in the Olympics than I intended to, and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

I think, on the whole, I had a reasonable experience of sport in school. I tried, I was always commended for making an effort, but by  secondary school we all knew the truth… team sport and me did not work. I was the one people fought over not having on their team, … the one rounder I scored in my life (it was an inter-form competition, we were all on the team) was a cause of much applause, and even more amazement. When we did athletics tests from an AAA badge programme, where the scoring was 100 – 1 (100 being the best, and 1 the worst) I couldn’t run fast enough to score a single point in the 100 metres. I think, if I recall correctly, I did score something in the 800 metres. I never did get a badge, though.

I considered myself lucky, though, as  I was deemed Sensible and Responsible, and throughout the summer, I could be seen, all by myself, at the far end of the field throwing javelins and discuses to my hearts content. In the winter, I was often allowed to play table tennis, at which I’d proved occasionally quite good. I also, by my O level year, had worked a cunning system of ensuring my clarinet lesson fell in my main PE lesson, which was with a teacher who didn’t get that there were those of us who did try, but were never going to improve much!

I have, over many years, confounded my GPs and other health workers by being fit and healthy, yet definitely obese. The second rudest moment I recall in a GPs surgery was the time I had my blood pressure checked, re-checked, and then informed I had no right to have such good blood pressure at the weight I was for my height. The rudest moment? Oh, it  involved me suggesting to the GP concerned that he could disbelieve me all he liked, but if he engaged brain before opening mouth and considered my occupation and address, he would see my statement about my sex life was likely to be accurate. He looked, blushed, apologised profusely, and never questioned me again….

I do lead a fairly active life. I commute by walking and train, and have been aware that my fitness levels have gone up considerably as a result of the hour and a bit of walking I do every working day, as well as the lugging of the work bag, and the climbing of the stairs. Why do I work on the Second Floor so much?! [NB – Don’t whinge, it could be worse. there is a Fourth Floor]. I have been known to go off for long hikes on days off, if feeling the need for some activity. I used to cycle, but gave that up to preserve my knee for more important activities, like walking…

Thing is, if I’d been forced into more competitive team sport at school  – I’d’ve come away with a perfect hatred of it  or an enhanced set of techniques for avoiding doing it. What’s made me a team player is not sport, but music. What’s made me willing to keep being active is an awareness of my health and my strong desire to keep doing the things I love doing.

I shall continue admiring from afar those who do love sport, and who are competing. I shall continue encouraging, with all my might, those of my students who want to do well, at what ever that happens to be!  For that is my greatest occasional contribution to the world of sport, someone needs to sit on the sidelines, look after the coats, and encourage!! How many times have I heard over the last two weeks how amazing the crowd support is? I shall continue to do the many things I love, and am pretty good at. But, sport just isn’t one of them!

Trying to untangle the complexities of a Japes and church

So, what are these truths about me and church?

I seem unable to settle into a church of my choosing. If I tell myself it doesn’t matter where I go, church is church, where two or three are gathered etc,…. Trouble is, for the last five years or so, church has rarely been the place when I’ve found  God or more crucially where God’s been able to get a word in edgeways. There have been tantalising glimpses, there have been moments when I thought this  barren stretch of boringness and monotony was over, but no. I’ve stuck with going week by week, especially when I made a promise to go to communion every week, even if I didn’t want to or feel like it, even when the temptation was to give up. I’ve maintained some kind of Bible reading and prayer routine, which has been patchy and variable at times, but which has been there. Just. Luckily, a couple of decades or more of praying the Daily Office meant a routine was pretty strongly engrained, and even if it was just a couple of Psalms or one of the set readings for the day, and some mumblings, an effort has been made

What has not gone away over these years is the strong, strong sense of God having a purpose for me. I still don’t know exactly what that purpose is, and I only know I’m fulfilling it when a sense of all being right with my world clicks in. I do know that purpose changes… Some of it hasn’t – I still seem to thrive best in working environments which horrify others. So, my unruly, scruffy, unemployable, but mostly loveable teenagers are kind of stuck with me. I  I kept trying to change jobs, it hasn’t happened! But the job keeps growing with me. (I know, this is education, this is a horrific economic climate – I am possibly the only person who seems to have a safe job!) It would seem God wants me there!

I tried to counteract my working life with a very different kind of church. They all happened to be nice, middle of the road, middle-class churches. All excellent churches if they are what you are looking for, or where God wants you to be. Once, I’d’ve really enjoyed them, and happily found a place as part of the church community there. I’ve really stunned myself by being totally unable to settle. Week after week, I”ve been forcing myself to go, forcing myself into exchanging the Peace, force myself into going up to communion. I gave up on coffee after standing around too many weeks being ignored, or feeling I was being rude by trying to strike up a conversation with someone. There was a growing feeling I didn’t fit in, was never going to and wasn’t wanted being a single middle-aged person, on a low and erratic income, with little spare time.

A large part of me is desperately stubborn and independent. An equally large part is of the understanding that I can do anything I want if I try hard enough… There are strengths to this, but also weaknesses. One of which is I am determined to see a thing through, when the time has long gone to give up! I’m also very good at talking myself into “enjoying” something I am really hating.

Several pennies have recently dropped with resounding clatters.

  • If the church I am going to is not one I would feel comfortable taking any of the teenagers or my colleagues to, then it’s not a church for me.
  • The Peace only makes sense to me in a church or gathering where I am a part of the church community. It so does not make any sense in a church where people are very insistent on exchanging the Peace with me, to the point of prodding me to make me aware of their presence, (but that’s for a different post) but won’t talk to me afterwards.
  • Communion also only makes sense to me when I am part of the whole.
  • If a church asks newcomers for their contact details, then only uses them to make them feel even more guilty about having a low income, and unable to contribute much financially, well, that’s really not the church for me either.
  • The onus is not all on the new person in church to do all the work at becoming part of the church community.
  • If I don’t feel I can be honest about myself from the beginning, which I haven’t been, then it’s not the church for me.It’s a difficult one this. There were good and sensible reasons for being somewhat reticent and the reactions I got when I did explain them were exactly the ones I was wanting to avoid.

Like I said, I’m a very slow learner. I’m very hopeful the next phase of this whole church stuff will be very different.. It already has a very, very different feel about it all. There is a strong sense of God in it all, and a strong sense that I can be myself, and if need be, bring my scruffy, unruly kids along with me and they will be welcome.

Somewhere along the line, I’ve learnt a little more about trusting God, and a little more about forgiving myself for not being able to do what I thought I could. But, somehow, God knows better. I do need to remember that!

Wherein I have surprised myself..

Goodness me. I have been gardening for much of the day. I have quite enjoyed it. When I say gardening I don’t mean anything complicated, I just mean tidying the front hedge, attacking the third of the grassed area with the shears (it does not deserve the name of lawn at the moment) so that when a dry day comes along and I can get the grass cutting machine out, it won’t die of exhaustion (it is on it’s very last gasp anyway) and weeding the paths.

This odd state of affairs may have come about because I have been office bound for weeks now, and it really doesn’t suit me. I know this, my team know this – the team I’d been lent to for two days a week now know this. So, a day of relatively strenuous activity has been very pleasant.

I have also been enjoying  the Olympics. I was staying with friends the opening weekend, and really loved the Opening ceremony, and the events we watched. Now I’m back home in my TV free zone, I’m enjoying the occasional on-line clip of the best bits, and catching the news about it on the radio. It’s sufficient. Actually, I surprise myself every four years by enjoying it more than I think I will!!

I have also, after taking nearly a month to calm down, claimed a most satisfying victory.

I’m also giggling at myself, after realising several truths about me and church. Dear me, I am a slow learner. But, I’m getting there, which is what matters, and, more to the point, I’m getting to where God wants me.