Lord,… keep me out of your way!

When I first started blogging I ‘met’ someone known as ‘A Man Breathing’ who was an ordinand on the south coast, blogging his journey to ordination. Sadly, after his ordination he stopped blogging, but that was after many months of receiving his encouragement on my road to licensing as a Reader.

‘A Man Breathing’ was also a fireman. Via his blog header, he introduced me to the prayer I’ve now posted on the right hand side of this blog because it continues to hold much meaning for me, and also for the work I’m currently involved in my parish of St. Peter’s Yateley (I may well use it at the end of this weeks sermon.)

It was written by Revd Mychal Judge OFM – Chaplain to the New York Fire Service, and the first recognised victim of 9/11. Having rushed to the scene on hearing of the devastation, he prayed with and helped people in the lobby of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre. When the South Tower collapsed it shot debris through the lobby of the North Tower killing him and others. There is now considerable information about Fr Mychal on the web.

I suspect his memory lives on in the US for many reasons, not all connected with 9/11. But for me, this prayer means a lot, and says it very simply.

Trying to live it, is much more complicated!

Wings, within and without (birdwatching)

This was the weekend of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2011. Returning from a brief trip out I decided the moment when I spotted a male Blackcap in the garden was the moment to start my hour sat in the french windows watching the feeders in the back garden!

Our feeders feature peanuts, robin seed and insect mix, niger seed and the now obligatory fat balls. So, the highest number of each of the 11 bird species spotted in my garden during the hour from 11.38am – 12.38pm on Saturday 29th January 2011 was:

Blackbird (male) 2
Starling 1
Goldfinch 6
Blackcap (male) 1
Chaffinch 4
Collard Dove 1
Pidgeon 2
Robin 1
Siskin 4 (1 male, 3 female)
Bluetit 2
Greenfinch 2

The big omissions as far as regular visitors I know we usually get, but didn’t see in the allotted hour included the Long-tailed Tits that regular dash through our garden 2-3 times a day between favoured hedges, and the two Great-tits that regularly shout at the dog!

However, today got far more exciting for birdlife with what I believe in the trade is known as a ‘lifer’ – the first time we’ve seen Waxwing! The tip-off came via Hants Ornithological Society – or to be precise their HOS-list, a Yahoo-community I belong to. Someone had spotted Waxwings in my local supermarket car park on Saturday. On the off chance of them still being there today, I swung through the car park this afternoon on the way to a church errand. They were!

A quick dash home for the family and we went back to watch them doing circuits round the local area. Approximate number of birds 65 and minus one who had sadly died flying into the local surgery car park (which had since been taped up with plastic bags to stop it happening again). Another with less damage was sat rather still in a bush – bright, but not wanting to fly round – but that gave G the best shots we could get on our little camera.

Feeling cold, but well chuffed. I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoyed birdwatching, and how frustrating it is not to have a bigger lens on our better camera!! I shall go and repent the sin of envy whilst preaching at communion this evening!

Unpacking this silent woman

Feeling a little like this overloaded sugar cane lorry (Uganda 2006) whose axils were going

I’ve got 40 minutes before I go to prepare for the 3rd funeral I will have taken since New Year. For the stipendiary minister that might not seem like a lot, but since Gran’s was my first completely solo effort and marked by my last post exactly a month ago, it feels like an awful lot.

As I try and return to bloggin’ I shall reflect on that, but first I thought I’d try and unpack my silence, especially given other’s posts over the last month about the dirth of women bloggers (especially in the faith sphere).

I’m flattered that Revd Lesley followed up my tiny tweet, and I’m interested in where my reasons for barely admitting that I blog fit with the theories listed by her as to why more women don’t blog.

1. Women don’t do technology and don’t know how to get on Wikio: well I do ‘do’ technology a bit, but largely due to the technical help and support of many male friends and now fellow members of the Twurch of England. What I have found (e.g. when a female staff member at Mothers’ Union head office phoned me for advice this week on setting up a blog) is that some women find the ‘technical language’ used by men a block to their understanding of how they can achieve things in social media. I’m afraid my technique is to keep asking, and explaining it back to them in my own language until I have a faint idea what to do, or get them to show me 1 to 1. Having said this, I was aware of the Wikio ratings because The Churchmouse, but had never realised I could, or even should consider registering (I haven’t yet, but thanks to Lesley I now know how!)

2. Women aren’t competative and wouldn’t put themselves on Wikio: Thing is I am; competative that is. I admit the sin of watching my blog stats, and the amusement value of discovering that my most popular post ever was last month when I posted the ‘First Time Ever’… I guess most people didn’t expect to see a middle-aged woman sledging! There’s probably a sermon illustration in that somewhere 🙂  However I know my limitations, and I wouldn’t expect to succeed in the way that Lesley Fellows or Maggi Dawn has. My world feels intellectually narrower than theirs but I’m happy to be on the edge of theirs via their blogs.

Ten minutes left…

3. Women are only blogging for themselves: these are the main desires for the blog, if I am to keep it going:

  • to share what there is that I do, that might have some use to others (sermons, reflections, the occasional idea of specific interest)
  • to include people in the journey of faith and ministry I’m taking (current pastoral circumstances are however making this difficult… and I can’t share the details, yet)
  • to ask questions, usually about the practicalities of how to do something – whether that be something technical, something spiritual, or something in a ministerial context
  • to share my news with people who know me, but whom because of my other commitments, or the distance between us, I can’t share it with face to face
  • to have a filing system for ideas and links that I probably don’t note down anywhere else – and this I could do better.
  • Is this blogging for myself? Some of it is.

4. Women are too busy to blog everyday: Yes! But so are most men, and definitely most Christian ministers I know (of either sex). I guess that’s why Twitter and the Twurch appeals it’s a more quick fire share of ideas! I have felt guilty for not blogging in the last month, and doubted the sanity of keeping the blog going at all. But, there have been plenty of things that I wanted to blog, if I’d had the time. If I get back into a rhythm of blogging you may discover what other things have caused me to be silent for a month.

I ran five minutes over. Now off to get the thermals and robes for the latest funeral and burial!