Views from the Office

Sometimes, life can be hard.

For example, I used to get up at 6am to give out Metro newspapers on the streets of Edinburgh, with two pairs of gloves, three pairs of socks, and a whole lot of financial necessity to ward off the bitter cold (and the gloomy commuters).

Contrast: Today my work, supporting people in tertiary education, meant that I spent six hours in Newquay Zoo.

Life wasn't hard today, and I was so thankful I took photos!!




[you're probably wondering what the top one is – it's a Fossa from Madagascar]

When Miracles actually, genuinely HAPPEN

Like most Christians, I believe in miracles – ie. I believe that they exist – although I don't really expect them to actually occur a whole lot (and therefore, I am generally to be found wearing my cynical hat when I get told about one).

But listen to this:

Two or three weeks ago, Maria was asked (by a girl from the exercise class she teaches) if she could pray for a friend: a young guy who had just been told he has two cancerous brain tumours, one completely inoperable.  He was about to start radiotherapy/chemotherapy and so on.

Maria said, 'sure', told me about it, and we prayed.  Probably for a combined total of twenty-five seconds.

And a week ago today, Maria was given the update: the tumours have both completely, miraculously disappeared.  The doctors don't know what to say or think.  They will keep checking on the guy, but he is fine and free to carry on with life.

It's a miracle.

How are Maria & I feeling about this?  Very weird.  We know that God answers prayers – we've seen inexplicable things happen before – but we have prayed for so long for so many things that we have come to expect His answer to be 'no'.  We presume that God won't be interested in what we think would be a good plan.  And therefore we tend to feel distant from Him, because being turned down all the time has that effect, doesn't it?

I am not happy to be in this situation.  I want to be more childlike in my intercession: to ask with faith and hope, but without feeling obliged to explain or understand the results.  I want to trust God more.


Jesus explains Lent to the disciples

He knows the score.

"So what," I hear you ask, "is the Shahid-Rowe household doing for Lent?"

Well (replied Mr Rowe), we've effectively been fasting for 3 weeks already, due to our Paleo Month, which explains the lack of pancakes yesterday.  Therefore, the idea of giving up even more than grains, sugars, pulses and other non-hunter-gatherer-type* foods is not exactly on our radar, especially since Maria is barely getting enough into her to stay alive anyway.

But I like Lent, and I want to 'do it'.

So what we've decided is to give up the 'giving up' side of the Fast, to sidestep it and instead use this period of the Church calendar to instil certain otherwise-lacking disciplines into our lives.  I won't give you the whole list, but for example, every day until Easter I am going to be spending 20 minutes sitting in silence.  Something I've always planned/wanted to have a go at, but never got round to.

And may God use the season to transform our hearts and lives.  Amen.

silence is wonder

DIETS: the cause of all war & suffering on Earth

Maria & I are going Paleo for a month – see here.

Which gives me the perfect excuse for a gratuitous PG Wodehouse quote:

It has sometimes seemed to me (said Mr Mulliner, thoughtfully sipping his hot Scotch and lemon) that to the modern craze for dieting may be attributed all the unhappiness which is afflicting the world today.

Women, of course, are chiefly responsible.  They go in for these slimming systems, their sunny natures become warped, and they work off the resultant venom on their men-folk.  These, looking about them for someone thay can take it out on, pick on the males of the neighbouring country, who themselves are spoiling for a fight because their own wives are on a diet.

Before you know where you are, war has broken out with all its attendant horrors.

[from 'The Juice of an Orange' in Blandings Castle]

I Like Big Props and I Cannot Lie

Fran cotton mud
[click the title below to listen]


I like big props and I cannot lie
You rugger-lovers can't deny
That when you see the fat boys scrumming down
With a 'crouch-touch-pause-engage'
You feel chuffed
With a proud chest out-puffed
Cos you know those props look tough

Deep in the mud at Twickers
You'll find a dumb ox like Vickers
Or maybe, it's a swampy fixture
Like Fran Cotton in that picture

Some League fans tried to recruit me
But with scrums like that – please!
Someone shoot me!
Ooh, God Almighty
I like to see them feisty
So scrummage, boys, scrummage
Use that epic tonnage

We've all seen them playing
Stuck in, with no complaining
They sweat, threat, keep going in dry or wet

I tire of old Australia
With a front row that's a failure
It's an average team, easy to stop
If you don't believe in props

So fellas, fellas – does that front row make you proud?
Then praise them, raise them; sing their names out loud.
Rugby needs props

[eighteen stone with a face like coleslaw]

I like them round and big
Ugly like a pig
I would not love this game if the scrum was dropped
And we lost our props
Those cauliflower ears
Say no – double up – no fears
Not talking about half-breaks
When a prop sidesteps, the Earth shakes!

I like them real thick like a brick
Ruck over
If you want that ball quick
On my perfect rugby canvas
Is a front-row hand-off
In the face of a stand-off

With legs like Os du Randt
Big and wide like an African elephant
Solid in the rear
Like that Tongan, Soane Tonga'uiha

Why not?
A blood-clot mug-shot
Fat and squat like Gareth Chilcott
Pretty-boy face like Graham Roundtree
And harder than an iron foundry
Running wild in a strop
Like a triceritops
We need to love our props

So ladies, ladies – how d'you feel about having more babies?
If you feed them lard and beer by the yard
They'll be madder than dogs with rabies
Rugby needs props.