sitting on the offence

We are offered, free of charge, a great deal of things in this life, some worth taking, others not so much. Offence is surely one of the latter.

We’ve all done it, but why would any of us do so? Might it be connected to our reluctance to show ourselves, be vulnerable? I’m suggesting that it is not what is said or done that can cause offence, so much as how the witness responds.

When I am offended by someone’s actions or words, I recognise something. I have a familiar bad taste in my mouth. Its a knee jerk reaction.

If I’m honest, I have to admit that I recognise whatever it is because the same thing is part of me too. Can I at this point take the juice out of the offence by exposing it?…by gracefully declining to take it?

I’m working on it.

share reality

I try to acknowledge my fellow creatures. Its not always easy but surely its worth an effort?

Where I live, a hallowed seat of learning in the east of England, you’d be forgiven for thinking many of the human variety prefer to be ignored, not looked at, or spoken to….not approached in any way!

I’m not asking for your hand in marriage, a night in the sack, or the keys to your car; but I don’t want to pretend you’re not there, as if I absolutely didn’t care.

So give us a nod, some sign of recognition, a simple affirmation that this reality is shared.

curmudgeonly chapter 29

Today I was in the centre of Cambridge and clearly October Term is about to begin. In particular I noticed a slew of mums accompanying their young hopefuls to settle in for their first term in this Great Seat Of Learning!

Choosing a bike in the market square, stocking up food in Marks & Spencer, standing outside by the car while the little darling unloads his or her belongings into their new digs….mums at work!

I never went to university, but I went to boarding school. At the age of 12 I was wrapped up, kissed goodbye and put on a train some distance from my destination. That’s how it was. No doting mum making sure I was delivered safely and all my comforts catered for. She had a job to go to.

She didn’t seem worried about what they might feed me. School food was a step or two up from prison rations I expect, but some way short of cordon bleu, and certainly nothing like mama’s home cooking.

For 4 years I was locked up with a flock of Dominican monks, one matron, and about 100 teenage boys for up to 3 months at a time. Not a live girl for miles….

We moved to Cambridge as a family when I was 17. At that time the ratio of men to women was reputedly 8:1. Most of the colleges were boys only. There were a mere 3 girls only colleges. Even the town, outside the university was apparently a bit boy heavy.

I was fresh out of boarding school, back living with my mum(!), and I had hardly spoken with a girl for years. We had to work hard to find girls even to look at, let alone those prepared to talk to us. So we worked hard.

Today I believe all the colleges are co-ed. I marvelled at the throngs of lovely young things swanning around their new playground. Mums delivering you, your Nintendos, bags of groceries, iPad, jim jams, and such and making sure you’re going to be comfortable, and have decent wifi. You guys have got it made!

not like back in my day….

we’re all complicit

wasted earth

We have had it so easy in recent years. Now we’re realising to varying degrees that our earth, our planet, is being handed the bill. In order to become the lazy bunch of slobs we mostly are, we have taken far more from the planet than we ever needed.

We’re sucking the hearts out of ourselves; greedy bastards who rather than enjoy and be part of the earth, choose to put it in harness, and by the nature of things we are all complicit.

Many of us are aware of this, but many more are not, and none of us are in any hurry to start reining in our appetites.


“Excessive desires for security and survival, affection and esteem, and power and control are out-of-date motives as far as the Gospel is concerned.”
Thomas Keating

There’s an interesting notion! When I remember I pray to let go of my desire for these things..obstacles to acknowledging and reconnecting with my true self…

It is for many of us, the first step…accepting that this thinking mechanism that keeps churning away is not who we are, but just a function of our whole being..a part of us that will not survive death…

But if these motives, with which we are all at least to some extent familiar, are ultimately redundant, how can we effectively let them go, and in their absence, what, if any, motives will remain?…

For myself, I am slowly but increasingly becoming aware of an abiding longing to grow closer to, know better and rest in, God..this longing is hard to articulate, but as real as anything in my experience…

most days I spend time with the Bible, both Old and New Testaments…written by people, though guided I believe by the Spirit…certain words come up again and again, hinting at some measure of the quality and nature of God…mercy, grace, faithfulness, patience, abiding love, strength, endurance, creativity, peace…we do well to sing God’s praises, ponder these qualities and pray for them ourselves…

yet I expect they fall short, as all words do…’..if you understand, then it is not God..’
so said St Augustine, in good faith…the ineffable nature of God is just that, inexpressible..unknowable…but nonetheless a real, abiding presence…