Tuesday 18 May 2010

The flow of life

This last weekend I visited the Isle of Bute for a friend's 30th birthday. We stayed in a fabulous castle/manor house and had a fantastic time. The local pun really is true, Bute is beautiful.

On the drive up to Glasgow, we headed past forest after forest of well maintained pine (or fir) trees. Though seen from a distance it was possible to see the formation in which they had been planted, the space between each tree being pretty much the same. Gaps of perhaps, 10 metres flowed down the hill where no planting had been done, presumably to allow access to the uniformly growing forest.

Elsewhere, seedlings had been planted, thousands of them, in long rows. Amongst the seedlings were rotting branches, leaf litter, stumps, all there to slowly return to the ground, allowing the nutrients to support the next generation.

Elsewhere still, were empty barren patches, left as fallow, resting in preparation for the next planting.

I was fascinated; theologically interesting, but also personally. When I was fifteen I was keen to be a forestry worker, I very nearly applied to Askham Bryn(?) to do 'forestry studies', but rather comically, I had hay fever that reacted badly to rotten trees and leaves.

Which got me thinking about the situation I find myself in today. Not to get into too much of the old, "if a butterfly dies in Hong Kong....." cause and effect thing, but it's interesting, how a relatively small situation or issue can change a life direction.

This is obvious, this is known.

But sometimes it's more noticeable than at others.

Right now I could have been a number of things, including:

A forestry worker in Scotland.
A translator in Germany.
A teacher for the visually impaired in Manchester.
A community worker in a Methodist church in Darlington.
A missionary in Kosova.

But I'm here, and it's where I am, where God has called me to be, doing what God has called me to do. And I find it all vvery interesting.

Thursday 6 May 2010

Democracy in action.

So today is election day, (and oddly enough our TV reception has gone down the pan!)

In Durham the build up to the election has been rife with negative campaigning. I have voted Liberal Democrat all my life and was frustrated by the choice I faced today, their local campaign being marred by so much negative campaigning.

It's not often I'll start a sentence the following way, but here goes..... As a Christian, I really struggle with the whole negative campaigning thing. It frustrates me; it's like gossiping through letterboxes. Wave after wave of ridiculous bumpf has made its way through our letterbox since the election was announced.

The bumpf has been saying things along the lines of, 'the Tories can't win here' (which actually they could, it's very very unlikely, but they could, if everyone voted tory, they'd win... wouldn't they?)

Alongside this there have been the 'what have they achieved since they have been in power' argument (rather than the more positive "what I'd like to achieve if I was in power...")

Where are the policies?

And so at a local level the candidate for the Lib Dems has alienated me as a voter (and four others I know of, some from different communities within the constituency.)

So who can I vote for? My choices are to vote more centrally or vote more to the fringe. Sadly the fringe in Durham appears to be made up of UKIP and the BNP so that wasn't an option. The Green Party didn't have a candidate so I couldn't vote for them (don't get me started about "tactical voting", how tactical voting plays out across a democracy like ours is more complicated than just making sure the lesser of two evils wins.)

Nationally the candidates for PM add a further layer of confusion. Locally, no, I can't vote Lib Dem, my own scruples about negative campaigning and reinforcing negative patterns of behaviour stop me. Nationally, I'd like the Greens to have a reasonable showing (an encouragement to them and a sign of national agenda change). I'd like the Lib Dems to gain more seats (but maybe not Durham). I would like the Conservatives to lose badly (negative campaigning and where are the policies? and quite frankly, just no!)

So who do I vote for?

Who did I vote for?

When I went to the poling booth I stood for quite a long time with pencil in hand, praying to God that my vote would be one of integrity and a genuine desire for kingdom values to take their place in the political agenda. I prayed that I would not live to regret my decision about who to vote for and who not to vote for. I prayed to God for some insight as to how best hold in tension my hopes for Durham and my hopes for the UK.

I prayed for a few minutes and I did then wonder how long you had to take before they removed you from the premises.

And then I voted.