Tuesday, 18 September 2007


Oh dear. Over a month since my last scribble. Well, since August 7...

- A lovely family holiday in Barcelona. Judith and I, plus Holly and Alannah (who decided to come this year - could it have been the choice of destination?), our niece Emma, and Grandad had 8 days in an amazing city. It was our first visit, at the recommendation of Daniel, who had spent New Year there, and who turned up en route between Romania and Madrid to stay with us for several days. Photos here.

This photo is of the Tibidabo amusement park on the hills behind the city. This being Barcelona it features antique rides, and behind it there is a double-decker church (as in one built on top on another) on top of which is a statue of Jesus, arms outstretched, almost as if he was blessing the park! Well, he did invent fun.

- Greenbelt at the end of August. Again I was on the crew at one of the venues (a throwback to my rock 'n' roll days) and also took part in a session looking at grassroots responses in Manchester to the gang violence issue. This went well, as did the whole weekend. The last night of August saw us in Stratford watching 'Twelfth Night'. Nice.

- Then, a busy two weeks leading up to Daniel's wedding (busy as in creating and printing the Service Booklets from scratch, organising PA and music, cake-baking and transport for people from Brunswick to Sheffield... and... and... and...). The day was brilliant - in the immortal words of the bloke from the A Team: "I love it when a plan comes together." Virtually everything worked out well. Family, friends, a service that was both reverent and fun, then tea and cake and photographs and a surprise "Dan & Tess - The Story" video, then the reception and speeches (including both sets of parents, and PowerPoint), then a Ceilidh. We got home Sunday evening, absolutely Wiped Out, but happy. Photos here.

About ten days before the wedding my mum - Daniel's grandma - was diagnosed with breast cancer. They wanted to operate straight away but she bumped it as she didn't want to miss the wedding. And she did not want anyone else to know about her condition until afterwards. She went in today and the op is tomorrow. You may pray.

Then, on October 2, Alannah heads off to India with Oasis for her gap-year trip...

Judith is back at work, having had to re-apply for her job (along with all the other staff), but still expected to work while the bosses made up their minds whether to re-employ her or not. Puzzled? Do the words 'Education Service' and 'City Council' help? Thought so. The uncertainty, confusion and the simple fact of tasks not getting done due to posts being left unfilled (e.g. Team Leader!) means the whole thing is in a state of some chaos at the moment. More stress.

As for the sabbatical... Well, part of the idea was to prioritise family, so in the last few weeks all other aspects have been mostly on hold. It's due to finish on September 30... I've just booked a flight to Belfast that day to visit mum for a few days (I think I'll be more useful after she comes out of hospital). I'm still hoping to get a few days away next week on solo retreat (same place as where I started - see 'Sabblog, week 1') to try and gather it all together.

Not unsurprisingly, the words 'emotional' and 'roller-coaster' have come to mind recently. Which reminds me of the amusement park in Barcelona with the statue of Jesus looking over it. Today in my email I got someone's newsletter. The opening paragraph contained these words: "As I write this letter the Father is showing me that somebody who is reading it has just discovered that somebody very close to you has been diagnosed with cancer. But don't be afraid! Your loving Father is in control." I'm sometimes a bit suspicious of these sorts of statements which can be like a Christian horoscope, but have experienced enough genuine examples of God speaking in remarkable ways to think this might be another. Impeccable timing. Your prayers would be much valued just now.

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