Thursday, October 23, 2008

anything but nae chat

This afternoon in the uni library toilets I read this exquisitely profound piece of graffiti; a response to a series of gripes about men and how they are the bane of the female existence (most of which is unrepeatable, or at least I wouldn't put it on my blog) and the question "Are you happy" to which people had made such insightful remarks as "Yeah" and "sometimes"... - "This cubicle has nae chat."

This morning when I went into hospital to get my eyes looked at, the eye specialist also had "nae chat" regarding my eyes, telling me to come back next year, however it seems my subconscious had much to say, especially when she put some "anaesthetic eyedrops" into my eye. While my rational mind was thinking "This is fine, this doesn't even hurt!", my body was yelling "Aaaah stop touching my eye! Get that anaesthetic liquid away from me!!" and less than 30 seconds after I walked out of the room, decided to conk out on me... Most embarrassing! Felt like such a wuss.

I seem to be constantly be crossing paths with folk who seem to have plenty of chat re:God, Jesus, Christianity, the meaning of life and many many issues. From drunk philosophers at the QM stall to international friends to extremely intelligent but also crazy friend of friend physicists and am enjoying it very much! Especially as they also seem to be asking questions in order to get answers and not just to poke holes in what I believe :) However I have to keep reminding myself that chat isn't enough, chat only goes so far, we reason with people but we can't persuade. I am so aware in these chats and was so aware as I had the privelege of witnessing a dear dutch drummer gradually being drawn to Christ over the last semester, that words only take us so far. We may do the sowing but He does the growing. I do know this to be true both from the Bible and experience, but man is it hard to keep as my perspective! At the QM stall the other day one drunk guy quoted St Francis of Assisi at a few of us in an attempt to attack our hypocrisy rather than in an attempt to find answers. And at first it wound me up to no end because he wouldn't let any of the 3 of us who were there get a word in edgeways and jumped in a taxi before we could make any response at all. Then I was reminded that our manner of response is as important as our content. I felt silly that that should have annoyed me so much as though I don't want to be scared of using words, I want my whole life to speak the truth in the way Jesus' life did; acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with my God. And to do it all out of love for God and for people, because He first loved me.
Reminds me of another famous quote by St Francis of Assisi "Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words."

Pheeew... feeling rather challenged now. Dinner time!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Music only goes so far...

Lately I've been rediscovering the value and joy of approaching God with music. For quite a while singing in particular had, to some extent, lost flavour and sense of purpose to me (playing the cello on the other hand involving my body, soul, mind, everything seemed to be another matter altogether but I won't talk about that here). It seemed kinda odd considering the fact that I am an avidly music-loving enthusiastic musician and it moves me like nothing else. It bothered me a little at first but I think I needed to go through that as was in mid-realising that worship, real worship is a life thing, not a music thing, or a "worship time" thing. I am trying (though often forget) not to call times when we praise God using music "worship" because I am utterly convinced that worship is so sooo much more than just musical praise or what happens at an organised gathering of God's people. It should encompass, or rather just be our whole lives.
But over the last couple of months I’ve found purpose and joy in it again, though I couldn’t have put words together before to explain why that was the case. Through reading bits and pieces and having chats with various folk of varying opinions on topics such as whether we should sing songs that make promises like “I’ll give you everything” that we’ll never keep, I've realised that perhaps it’s my whole approach has changed drastically.
I think before, I wanted to praise God with my heart when I sang or made music to him. And I still do, but now so often I find myself thinking and praying, while I sing, that what I'm playing/singing wouldn't just be good music or half-felt words. Taking the example of lyrics like “I’ll give you everything” etc: I still find those songs difficult to sing but instead of singing them and making those promises, I find myself challenged by them, reminded that this is the only fitting response to such an incredible grace-gift, and while singing (if I’m switched on!) I ask Him to help me give my whole life completely over as worship, even if it is going to be a long and pain-staking process. Songs like that are becoming my prayers, and I was going to put there, "rather than praise" but actually I think that is as much praise as any kind of joyful jubilant rejoicing because it involves acknowledging that He is great and worthy of my whole life. So I find my first priority in music is becoming honesty rather than conviction in praise. Yeah… I think that’s what the change is. I think that must be what has made me fall in love with musicing to God again.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Des petits morceaux and a stress graph

It's been a funny couple o weeks.

Highlights have to include
- the persistence of my french magnetism which seems to be as strong as last year. I'm still meeting french folk in the randomest of places and so have spent much time speaking french. Yesterday the comedy moment of the day had to be having matlab explained to me in french by the research assistant who I'm working on my psychology final year project. Turns out almost everyone in the lab I'm working with is french! And I probably understand her better explaining it to me in french simply because she does a better job of it in her native language!

- discovering that songs such as Arcade Fire's "No cars go" can make what could be miserable walks around Glasgow in bucketing rain, trying not to skid on sad sodden leaves, kind of beautiful!
- rediscovering the joys of supermarket deals at Sainburys on Crow Road (it's worth the extra 5 minute walk!)
- playing purty celtic versions of hymns in purty surroundings which some ace musicians for the BBC
- having long quality chats with many cool people on a range of interesting topics, the benefits and pitfalls of arranged marriages being quite a hot topic!
- Quiet Saturdays when I get to potter productively
- Beautiful live music, jazz, Jo Mango, jamming etc.

Of course behind all this has been the niggle of stress as illustrated by the graph which has made it all into a slightly rocky ride. Stress caused by a general and fairly justified feeling of inadequacy because of my lack of ability to juggle things well and love God and people with all I have at the same time. But since last weekend, as you can see, due to some quality teaching at one of those UCCF trainings days, stress levels have plummeted. I was reminded that God's love doesn't depend on my performance. Jesus wouldn't have died for me if my performance had anything to do with it, but he did. Funny how a change in perspective can make everything else seem so much more manageable! And for that, des petits morceaux and for this I am so grateful! :)