You are only 44 once….

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…and I am today- yippee!

I realise that I am becoming old when my age is a creditable cricket score. 44 not out is a large enough innings to be described in ‘Wisden’ in a match report. Normally innings like this are described as:-

* ‘Promising’ (ie not quite a half century).

* ‘a brilliant cameo’ (not quite a half century, but good while it lasted)

* ‘stodgy’

* ‘scratchy’

* ‘briefly entertaining’.

And if that was someone’s highest score at the end of a season, the writer might say something like ‘He did not play an innings of any real significance: 44 is a poor return for a batsman of his talents’.

To the last statement- I’m still ‘not out’ and to the first 5, well I have certainly experienced elements of most of them.

Today I shall mostly working, but whoever thought of putting Manchester United in a League Cup Final live on terrestial TV on my birthday earns my undying thanks.

It’s the weekend; pause for a while.

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So; apparently Roman Catholics break the Lent fast on weekends. Therefore I am- a post of longer than 3 sentences.

It is both liberating and restricting to keep to 3 sentences:-

Liberating: I don’t have to waffle on and I have to be clear. Plus I have so many half formed gobbets in my brain at any one time that posting is not hard.

Restricting: I want to say more and have clause and counter clause- use oddball humour etc. I can’t.

Last week I was in a Bible Study- I am so bored of Bible studies- the same issues, over and over again.

At worst, I think they can become a kind of ‘spiritual masturbation’; something done in private that has no relation to public space or ‘how do I live now’ and essentially escapist with a style of language used which you wouldn’t use in public if you wanted to be taken seriously or understood.

OK, just maybe that was a rant. This is a blog. Blogs do that. But seriously, often I came out of Bible studies with my head full of so many words and so little action and rarely experienced the kind of realtionship where I truly experienced my brother or sister as a real person. I more often encountered the other person as a set of opinions, words or concealing silence (although paradoxically I knew them more over coffee afterwards).

Anyway- where was I? I’ll just mop up the froth from my mouth and calm down a little…. I was in this Bible Study which lit me up for the first time in years. We used this practice known as ‘Lectio Divinia’: Short prayer- passage read out loud, slowly (with everyone having closed Bibles)- 5/10 mins of silence- passage read out loud, slowly (ditto closed Bibles)- 5/10 minutes of silence- then an ‘open time’ where people speak on what struck them with no one allowed to jump in, correct or add to what is said…

What I found was that I stopped flicking into ‘theological mode’ : where you turn off the still small voice, ride theological hobby horses, talk at people, stop really thinking about how God might be addressing you or any combination of those. What I also found- anything said in the silence became really precious, alive and pregnant with meaning. One thing really hit me about the passage we listened to that has shattered me and made me think about doing stuff differently.

Often less is more. In life- perhaps also in the blogosphere.

Why do we turn the Word made flesh back into so many words again?

Lent-3 short sentences:5

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“Lent is supposed to be a time when we review our spiritual life, think again about what it means to be a follower of Christ, reset the compass of our discipleship and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Easter festival. But often we just give up biscuits”

Ah: the fetishisation of sprituality and the reduction of the Gospel to sugary, bite sized chunks; don’t we just love it?

(Stephen Cottrell, I Thirst, p. 12) HT:http://maggidawn.com/

Lent?

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(no I’m not…it’s just that all the images I found under ‘Lent’ were so teeth grindingly pious and bad art…)

Last year I gave up booze and posted one graceful thought a day on this blog.

So what to do this year? I could give up booze again, but it has currently opened up a whole new world and I have met so many new people in this community (see no end of previous posts)…….. and in case you think that is selfless, I also like it.

Some people give up blogging for Lent or fast from technology for a day. See for example http://davidkeen.blogspot.com/ who gives some excellent reasons.

But I’m going to carry on through Lent but with a change. As Martyn Joseph sang:-

‘I’m slick with words and sentences, I am silver with my tongue’

I use a lot of words; maybe too many.

So here is my challenge: can I post daily with fewer words?

I thought of restricting each post to one sentence, but then I thought as Methodist preachers manage to break everything into 3, why not 3 sentences? Just 3 sentences daily (although as a Roman Catholic told me: the Lent fast is broken at weekends- I may go longer then; we’ll see) to communicate anything or everything. I don’t aimed to be particularly sacred. I may end up being random (no change there then).

A big change then. And this post has already taken 15 sentences….

I broke a leg darling

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People have been asking me how my latest amateur dramatic role went (ok- I wish people had been asking me that. They mostly haven’t).

I remembered all my lines in the right order. When I had worked out that I was an artist and I had a pad as a prop, I discovered I could write my lines on the pad. I perhaps didn’t hit the heights of campness that I was supposed to, but I had fun trying.

The scariest bit was the part between acts and over dinner (it was a murder mystery- I am not up to the level of playing tortured Kafkaesque characters seething with internal dialogue just yet). Cast members were supposed to wonder round, in character, talking ad lib to the audience. Most of the cast feared being without a prepared script and preferred to stay together in safety talking only to each other.

Bit like Western Christians outside church really…..

Do I want to be anywhere else?

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Thanks to the miracle of wordpress I am elsewhere as you are reading this.

Part of me wishes I was back home in my regular Friday teatime spot in the King’s Head. A growing gathering of disparate blokes around beer and banter. I think that most middle class British blokes, often living miles from where they have been born and brought up and having endured a few moves with family, jobs etc don’t know really know anyone. I think this is why this group is growing (in size and strangeness).

I love the chatter and mick-taking and (I think as I have mentioned before) the amount of unforced godtalk that happens. I also love the beer. A lot.

One day I dream of finding a way to be church in this space and one or two possible openings are becoming apparent which is exciting.

Someone informed me last week, wryly, that it was becoming a counterpoint to a women only coffee group and that men were begging spouses to be allowed to go as it was safe because a ‘man of the cloth’ co-hosts it. I think she was joking. I hope so. I would hate to be considered ‘safe’…