Prepare to be utterly astounded, people.
My Dad, the culturally-savvy wotsit that he is, told me about these a few days ago. Vinni Pukh is the Soviet-era version of Winnie the Pooh, and kicks the pants of the Disney adaptations any day, in my book. So now I shall share them with you …
So, a canty 250th birthday tae ye, bonnie lad Rabbie, ye big pile o blethering, philandering tosh that ye are!
And happy Burns Night to the rest of you. Apparently, far more Burns Suppers take place in England than in Scotland now – read here for the experience of a London-based Scot at a ceilidh attended almost exclusively by Sassenachs. It's enough to make you smile.
And here's my contribution. I'm not a big fan of Robert Burns as a person, but this is a really beautiful love song that I heard for the first time this week. It's sung by an old wife to her faithful husband:
John Anderson my jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw,
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson my jo!
John Anderson my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither,
And monie a cantie day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither;
Now we maun totter down, John,
And hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson my jo!
This morning I spent a few minutes flicking through some YWAM-related websites (I was actually wondering about trying to connect with ex-YWAMers in Cornwall) and was just struck with what a thoroughly remarkable bloke Loren Cunningham is.
I know it's not a competition, but has there ever been someone who has mobilised more Christians into mission and Christian action within his own lifetime? It's a weird way to be thinking, but I am convinced that, in years/centuries to come, people will speak of Loren Cunningham in the same sort of reverent tones we reserve for the great Heroes of the Faith – the William Careys, Hudson Taylors, DL Moodys, the Gladys Aylwards, Amy Carmichaels, David Livingstones, the Thomas Aquinuses, William & Catherine Booths, and so on.
He really is something special.
But the thing is, a lot of organisations die with their founders – it happens all the time. Therefore, I was doubly enjoying noticing how wonderfully Loren and Darlene have quietly slipped (somewhat) into the shadows in the last decade, allowing YWAM to be led and overseen by other people, and not being the kind of leader that wants everything to look like himself. What a flipping good guy.
I've met him, and he's really nice in person too. He loves people, and it shows.
And all that has made me wonder who else with whom we presently share the earth will we one day look back with thankfulness for, and wish we'd been more grateful for at the time? Partly I'm thinking of people who most reflect God to us, but then there are others – Bobby Charlton is the example that springs to mind, for some reason – of people from outside Christendom who nonetheless it is a privilege just to exist on the same planet as. And then that starts me thinking that flipping everyone on this planet is astounding in one way or another – 'there is no such thing as an ordinary person' – and maybe I should just stop and notice what an amazing thing it is to share a world with these bipeds. Hmmmm …
I have a problem. I also have an utterly beautiful, graceful and wonderful fiancee called Maria. She is not the problem, but you might say she has caused it.
The thing is, in the 30 months since we relocated our lives to the island of Great Britain, she has fallen prey to the whiles and whims of one of the most addictive pastimes that exists: she has fallen in love with football. Having never previously cared about any team sports in her life, a wednesday evening will now find her happily clicking the refresh button on the BBC Sport page which gives text updates on the matches – it makes her really happy.
Now, it would be one thing to start getting into proper grown-up sport like rugby or cricket (and to her credit, she likes them too), but football fanaticism is for overgrown teenagers, not adults. It is for Nick Hornby-types who have football-related dreams, who suffer mood swings dependent on the fixture list, and who know better than Sir Alex Ferguson how to manage a team. Maria's life has been changed by football, and the thing is, it is CONTAGIOUS.
This week, with Maria safely a thousand or more miles away, I have nevertheless attempted to find live online streaming of matches in which I have no real interest; I have had an emotional response to the news that West Ham may still have to pay Sheffield United vast sums of money for being cheating scumbags; and yes, I have been pressing refresh on the BBC Sport text commentary page. What am I becoming? Will somebody help me?
I'm sure Maria will 🙂
Sadly, I have a throat infection and a swollen uvula. The uvula is the dangly bit in the back of your mouth – mine presently looks a bit like this:
The Clock is my dictator, I shall not rest.
It makes me lie down, when exhausted.
It leads me into deep depression.
It hounds my soul.
The Clock leads me in circles of frenzy, for activity's sake.
Even though I run frantically from task to task, I will never get it all done,
For your incessent ticking is with me.
Deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me.
They demand performance, beyond the limits of my schedule.
They anoint my head with migraines,
My inbox overflows.
Surely fatigue and pressure shall pursue me
All the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration
[*Very Busy Person Version]
Some of you might know that if Maria & I hadn't decided to relocate together (which is how we ended up in Edinburgh), I was due to move to Gaza City in the summer of 2006 to work with FRRME. I would probably have only lasted six months, I'm sure, and therefore would never have had to endure what the Gazans have for the last ludicrous year or so.
As you might be doing yourself, I've found that it's much much easier to distance myself from what's going on there now (or at least to engage with the theoretical side of it – the politics etc.) rather than notice the death and wreckage and get hurt by it all. If you'd like to have a go at getting involved on a heart level, you can try reading http://ingaza.wordpress.com/ - written by a friend of a friend. I can only handle glimpsing at it for now.
The word MORTGAGE literally means DEATH GRIP.
[go on, apply that to your plans for home and family, I dare you …]
my sister gave me The Secret Life of Words by Henry Hitchings for Christmas 🙂