Wednesday, December 23, 2009
things in life...
Being able to communicate and be understood and be myself because the majority of people around me speak my language (courtesy of Michie, home for the Christmas hols after her first few months in Paris). A well heated house (courtesy of my parents). Snow (with the help of my sister). The wonders of technology (courtesy of a marvelling grandmother and mother post-first ever Skype conversation entre Colombo and South Queensferry). Jesus coming to earth at all let alone everything else he said/did/gave up (courtesy of Christmas).
I suppose some small things are in actual fact pretty huge things... I guess they just seem small because they are part of everyday, or aren't announced, or are just forgotten.
Friday, November 13, 2009
The last time I was in France I did however see one that didn't fit all the stereotypes - for one it had French actors speaking English!! Welcome is definitely worth seeing, being beautiful, thought-provoking though unfortunately also heart-breaking. You can watch the trailer here. Some of it is in English so hopefully you'll get the gist! Though good luck with the accents... Anyway I highly recommend it, go and see it while it's out in the UK during the festival!
Friday, November 06, 2009
And through it all He keeps whispering in my ear "Follow me" along the path that is narrow, that might be highly unconventional, or annoyingly conventional, that could lead through some pretty dark and barren places, but a way that is faith, truth, hope, love, that is freeing, that satisfies far more than a fulfilling job, a good marriage, exciting experiences, wonderful friends, a way that is knowing Him. And I'm realising that small things and individuals are just as important as "careers" and "postgrads" and that it's ok not to know my immediate destination right now if my eyes are fixed on Him. :)
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Unsurprisingly I don't have stereotypical British views on the matter. Being a Scot (where we don't seem to have population problems apart from the occasional lack of), of immigrant stock myself and with a passion and love for anyone vaguely international. And while I do realise that we can't let everyone into the country I do think we go a bit overboard on the matter. Pet frustrations include:
- Government or Press making ridiculous claims supposedly based on accurate stats which have usually been blown out of proportion or taken from a very biased sample since when did population graphs follow a constant gradient
- The home office allowing people to stay in the country for months or even years, settle down, make friends, sometimes find family, a life... and then suddenly deport them without even the slightest warning!
It's such a vicious cycle - we have a press that perpetuates a fear of people "coming in to steal our jobs", the people demand things of the government who then tighten the already rigid system but people are desperate so do crazy things to slip through the system which makes the press go crazy and the cycle continues...
Where is the compassion!? We don't ever seem to put the shoe on the other foot. Think about the fact that so many people are coming from difficult or destitute situations. We don't even try to imagine what it'd be like if it were us having to escape some crazy dictator or war or famine in the UK and having the doors closed to us wherever we try to escape to or being treated like unwanted cattle. Why can't policy be shaped around compassion and not just around what's practical?! Then again... I guess we don't live in a world like that.
I'd be interested to hear what other folk think...
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
"Wow! What's that like? Did you really think you were a sheep?!"
Turned out that she was referring to that bit of the Bible with Jesus the good Shepherd and us the sheep. "After 26 years" she said to me "I find it hard to get used to the idea that I am just a sheep". The image really struck her in a way that it never had me before. I explained to her that I'd grown up with it, made sheep out of cotton wool and pritt stick so often that it was just normal, it was just stories that I'd been told as a child, absorbed and never questioned. I suddenly realised that it's hardly flattering being compared to a sheep. They just seem to mindlessly follow. I do not know much about it but I did google "sheep behaviour" and this is what it came up with.
And yes this photo is of adorable Jersey cows not sheep, I couldn't resist putting this photos up. But you get the general idea. Herd instinct yada yada...
But it was the more the concept behind it that she found difficult. And I realised that in practice I found the being a sheep thing and being shepherded by Jesus probably as hard as she did - il s'agit de letting someone else lead you and take control of your life.
The other night I started thinking about that bit in the Bible again and I wasn't struck so much by the image of being a sheep as the idea of Jesus as our Shepherd.
Becoming one of his flock doesn't mean becoming a stupid, mindless, blind follower (poor sheep!) It doesn't reduce us to something less than human. We are what we are, human beings with intelligence and free-will and creativity and personality. I think that bit about the sheep says more about who Jesus is than about who we are. If we're sheep, that makes the Shepherd - Jesus - so much more intelligent, so much more knowledgable, so much better able to fend for us than we are. And then there's that aspect of tender care.
When I think of it like that. This strikes me all the more. If you were a farmer, or a shepherd, orif you have or have had pets, would you die for an animal under your care?! And then there's the fact that he did that by becoming one of us too! Mental!
Oh dear, I hope I'm not offending too many sheep by this post!
Friday, August 28, 2009
- 2 Calvin and Hobbes books = comic genius!
- "Baby Lion" my maneless, noseless oldest stuffed animal who in his long life has been lost and found several times, been through the washing machine, washed in the bath (didn't do wonders for his mane though) and played countless imaginary games.
- a photo album of the first ever photographs I've ever taken, most of them being of my sister (a grinning 4 year old, arranging her dolls in lines in order to teach, bathing them and posing in a variety of clothing - she hasn't changed much!)
- lots of old diaries - some rivetting entries from 1994 included:
"April 9th; we went to Dunoon by car. I was bored."
"January 16th: I tidyed my room" and then again on December 30th "I tidied my room again. It was my last chance." Apparently some things don't change...!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
It makes it hard for me to see the point. I feel aimless. A drifter.
The only concrete thing in my life at the moment, other than my fiancé currently swamped with heaps of studying, is Jesus. But even He seems like an idea sometimes, abstract and airy and with no bearing on my real life a lot of the time.
At the weekend I remembered again why I love communion. I know lots of people who think communion is dull and lifeless and boring... but my experience of it has always been nothing short of powerful, moving and alive! Every time something different in that many-layered profound symbolism strikes me - whether on a basic level e.g. his body was broken for us or on another level e.g. the fact that we are all a part of the body of Jesus, sharing in this one piece of bread. But what it is that makes it so real, is that it's physical - bread and wine are physical, I interact with them physically (by eating and drinking them). I'm overwhelmed when I see bread broken because I realise that Jesus' body was a real physical human body broken but the symbolism only works because the bread is physical and not some idea. And I don't just observe it from afar, I share in it. I touch it, munch it, taste it.
This is what I hold on to when nothing else is fixed - the physical reality of Jesus, who lived and died and rose again, the Father who is utterly just and to the uttermost forgives, the Spirit that transforms - my God.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Funny how our dreams change drastically. We dream a lot as children about the huge ways that we're going to leave our impression on the world. I was going to be a scientist, a detective, a forensic psychologist, a barrister, but my favourite and most persistent dream was that I was going to be a published novelist who single-handedly transformed the thinking of millions of people around the world. Now I'm happy enough if a handful people read my blog once in a while! Most of us have fairly big childhood dreams, but somewhere along the line, most of us slip into ordinary contented existences, or we realise that our dreams weren't quite a realistic as we'd originally thought or it'd take us being more brilliant or self-disciplined then we are in fact as adults. We don't quite become the people we wanted to be and so we can't quite achieve the dreams we'd wanted to achieve.
Actually for me it wasn't so much that as the more I experienced, the more the shape of my dreams changed. I stopped writing stories after I went to uni because I stopped enjoying pretending to be someone else and now I struggle to write about anything other than my own experiences. I still want to change peoples' lives but I'd be extremely happy if I have an effect on the people I meet on a day to day basis in small ways. I think the shape of my dreams changed because the bigger I grew, the smaller I realised I was. And yet at the same time, the bigger I grow, the bigger I realise God is, the greater is love, mercy, compassion, the more I realise he cares about the vulnerable, the downtrodden, the outcasts in society... Reminds me of that bit in Prince Caspian when Lucy encounters Aslan again in person for the first time since "The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe".
"Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger."
"That is because you are older, little one," answered he.
"Not because you are?"
"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."
I think I'm even less sure of what I "want to do when I grow up" now that I have actually "grown up" than I did even when I was at uni! But I'd like to try and see things more through "God perspective" lenses and do what I can to live like Jesus and further His kingdom where broken lives get fixed.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
"Oh I'm really skint right now..."
"We're going through a transitional phase in life right now, we've had to cancel a lot of our standing orders to charities..."
"I'd like to think it through. Do you have a website?"
"Oh that's ok, don't worry about it, I totally understand..." is supposed to be followed up with what is called "objection handling" in charity fundraising which is a form of arm-twisting, or as they call it "allowing people to see things from the charity's point of view" but I could never bring myself to do it! So I've temporarily lost my job. Temporarily because I'm apparently a nice person to work with and good for team morale so they want to give me another bash at it. So when they move onto another campaign I'm going to try my hand at it again if I don't find something else in the mean time. Anyway it definitely wasn't a wasted experience even if I don't go back. I certainly learnt a lot, including such valuable knowledge as...
- How to stop people in the street (you have to stand in front of them and start chatting to them from a distance, not side on or close up or they'll just walk straight past)
- People are very friendly even in Edinburgh! (or at least when it's not raining)!
- I am not in any way, shape or form a salesperson (though I think I kinda knew that already)
- fundraising is a tough job... show some respect for your local street fundraisers!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
1. blow bubbles outside (and watch them sparkle as they burst)
3. enjoy some live music (either some live jazz in somewhere like the 78 or Brel or something that inspires silly dancing like Samba Ya Bamba)
8. go to something at the West End Festival (so I can accomplish 3. on the list)
9. jam (preferably outside in the park)
3. Keep hanging out with foreigners in some capacity (doesn't get more specific than that just now I'm afraid!)
I think I like to do lists as much as I like bullet points! :)
Monday, April 27, 2009
- coursemates - I love doing such a socially-conducive course! Studying for French oral exams was naturally a communal thing and certainly made for a less boring day! (I know what you're thinking Potter - they were real exams!!)
- And there's the fact that part of studying for french involves reading newspapers (in french of course) :D
- episodes of Doctor Who on iplayer
- copious amounts of jazz especially the Esbjorn Svensson and Brad Mehldau Trios - can't beat that piano-bass-drums combo!
11 days to go! Not that I'm counting or anything...
Not that the new title exactly describes the content of my blog either. But I think it comes closer to describing my attitude to life i.e. to savour each moment in the same way we Glasgow residents savour the rare sunny days we get - something which blogging has been a part of over the 3 and a half years.
Hmmm I do love sunshine :)
And I do love french words with lots of syllables that begin with "em" or "en", and there are SO many wonderful ones!
Take for example:
- embouteillage (n) - a traffic jam
- ensommeillé (adj) - sleepy
- enracinement (n) - the act of putting down roots/taking root
- embrouillamini (n) - muddle
- embourgeoiser (v) - to become middle class/gentrified
- embrasement (n) - blaze/dazzle/unrest (NB one 's') not to be confused with..
- embrassement (n) - hugging and kissing
Mmmm how I love the way they roll off they tongue... :)
Now what was I doing again...? Ah yes... back to neurophysiology...
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Accents are contagious! Until the age of 4 I had this kind of well-spoken non/almost Sri Lankan accent. As soon as I hit nursery this became a broad Queensferry accent which I can still turn on like a tap, and since uni my accent has got somewhat corrupted by northern-irishness amongst other things. Bizarrely enough my mum thinks I start to say "like" more often between words when I've spent a bit of time speaking french! Ben c'est comme ca quoi!And then there's all those little habits and turns of phrases we pick up from people. I've picked up all sorts, from adding the suffix "-ness" to the end of all of my adjectives and talking endlessly about "the ban'er" in my school days to adding "so I do" at the end of my sentences and saying everything is "actually ridiculous!" - that would be your fault Michie! Sometimes I pick them up accidently like when I start imitating someone's accent or mannerisms out of appreciation or just to tease them and somewhere down the line it becomes part of my own repetoire.I have a friend who picks up mannerisms from international students and keeps them for at least the year after they leave. It's as though they've left their imprint on him or that it's some kind of prolonged emotional connection.
I think there must be some kind of emotional connection or subconscious choice involved. I never picked up speech habits from people I didn't like or feel some kind of affinity with. Needless to say Mark likes Scotland. And I picked up the Scottish accent with such force when I was little because I was adamant that I was Scottish through and through, nothing more, nothing less. But there's more than just choice involved. I only pick up speech habits when I've spent a lot of time with someone. I do know the odd person who picks up an accent as soon as they start speaking to someone, even if it's one that's reasonably unfamiliar to them, but I am definitely not like that! I quite often forget that it's something similar with us and God. I long to be more like Jesus in character. But in order to make it happen, I need to spend time with him, to really get to know him. And I need to make some kind of conscious or subconscious choice to imitate him. The veil has been taken away and that's a huge deal! ...so why do we so often forget, take this for granted... why don't we just look to Him.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Then there's my capacity to mess up, again and again and again - it leaves me feeling fed up and empty and despondent and utterly useless. This results in a lack of belief on my part in God ever changing me.
This lack of belief isn't something I've just noticed. I've been encumbered with it for as long as I've been a Christian, though only started realising and wrestling with it over the past year. See I've realised that, in theory, having belief would result in me praying more, would result in me trusting God more, would result in me stepping out of my comfort zone more, would result in me behaving and doing in a completely different way, would result in God acting in massive ways in and around me. But this shortage of belief, though it doesn't stop me, it stunts me, stunts all of these things... Ridiculous is the only way I can describe it! Actually Ridiculous!
But God... - I don't think I've ever fully understood this - grace. There are times when I think I've got it and then I forget it again. But it's not from me... That whole section in Ephesians 2 reminds me that I am rubbish, but God... He's what I need, He can give me what I need. He wants me to come and ask him to give me what I need. Because He freely gives.
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Friday, March 06, 2009
At least half of what he said could be condensed into this:-
- "Put in some cool diagrams here and here and here and here"
(it may have been a summary of what he said but I assure you, the word "cool" made an appearance on several occasions). So I had a go at some "cool" diagrams today. I made a reasonable effort I think, but none of them come even close to the rainbow spectrum graph I saw on Tuesday :( siiiigh...
Lessons for the week:
- Programming matlab is a useful skill to learn
- Voice neurocognitive psychologists like "cool" diagrams
- Never put your usb stick in your jeans pocket so you don't lose it. You will inevitably forget to take it out the next day
Man am I becoming geeky... see what final year is doing to me!
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I like noise.
At multiple frequencies, high amplitude
in toing froing, hereing going,
in hustle bustle, constant doing,
in clutterclatter, chitterchatter,
the thrill of milling in a crowd.
I like it loud.
And I see You in everything
in all the constant toing froing
leaping out of action, chatter,
sparks in peoples' eyes
But in the silence... it's another story.
I have to strain so hard to see, so hard to hear,
to listen even.
Please don't be so quiet God!
Too much cramming, crowding, perpetuating...
I've lost the art of waiting.
And yet... You tell me to be still
quieten my heart, and know You're God,
that in trust, that in quietness, therein lies strength,
that in still still waters, therein lies nourishment.
How could I forget that breath-taking beauty
of just being with you...
Monday, February 23, 2009
- my dad refusing to put ham in his sandwich this morning which contained the apparently satisfying and tasty combination of humous and chilli sauce
- a very lost and confused Indian woman with near incomprehensible english running very late for a job interview, who I went on a wild goose chase with, first looking for Buchanan Galleries, then Buchanan Bus Station, then for a bus to Bearsden. She was hoping that I spoke Hindi...
- a giant (at least 6 feet high and 12 feet wide) Adidas shoe box, literally blocking my path, in the middle of the square round the corner from my flat
Ah the joys of those petits bizarreries which render life all the more interesting!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Doodled out some thoughts I'd been having over the last couple of weeks, this morning. Man I love spider diagrams for making sense of my jumbled up my mind. And they're so useful for studying too! :)
I hope it's legible! Please let me know if something on this doesn't make sense... let me know if it does too if you'd like ;)
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
For or Against the practice of strikes in France?
What are the causes of fanaticsm
Are religions a source of irrationality in our societies?
Is the internet an instrument of freedom or alienation?
Can we guarantee social well-being by respecting traditions?
Is feminism an exclusively western idea?
Is political power becoming a media power?
Is a truly multicultural society possible?
It actually makes my mouth water looking at them, unfortunately it also makes it difficult to choose between them! I also get to choose something contraversial to talk about in one of my Oral exams for my presentation. Anyway, I thought I would maybe tackle some of these (abridged and in english of course!) in my blog over the next few weeks. Gives me a good excuse to do some reading (in french) and might help me choose a good oral topic. Procrasination that is actually revision... ah how I love my course! :D
Saturday, January 17, 2009
So on this my 196th post I am stopping to reflect on how much and yet how little I have changed in the last 3 and a bit years since I started blogging. That first blog post was written out of procrastination and... now I think about it, so is this one, ha! I guess the emphasis of this blog has changed over time from being mainly banter in that first year, to a sort of travel log to keep folks updated while I was in France, to more musings than anything else in this last year and a half... maybe a little less n'importe quoi than it once was. Change is a good thing, maybe this blog will keep changing... on ne sait jamais!
I was having a bit o a crisis the other day because I'd been reflecting on the last year and pondering on whether I'd changed much or made any progress and didn't feel like I had made any. It seemed like I had learnt much and applied little. I seem to have such crises on regular occasions, like when I first came back from France or after this summer. Usually the pattern is, I have too much time to look at myself and see that I'm making the same mistakes that I've made time in time out in previous years and instantly get despondent and then usually not long afterwards that actually I have changed and I was just being silly as per usual. This time was no different.
Whether or not I end up feeling despondent for weeks or for years, I'm realising it's just too easy to look at myself too much. And when I do, I usually become discouraged or complacent... one or the other. I don't want to be completely unaware of myself but when I am happiest, when I am most effective, when I learn the most and when I change the most is when I look at him... Jesus. I'm reading the gospel of Mark with some CU folk in prep for the FREE project and have been struck by how real Jesus is and comes across. I've heard these stories over and over my whole life, but not reading them as isolated events in Jesus' life renders it differently somehow. Personality jumping out the pages at me, is the only way I can describe it! His identity and his death and resurrection mean that he is my hope, my light and my author of salvation and through him I can be a part of the family and kingdom of God. But I have rarely been so aware of this fact, and that He is alive and interacts with us today! I want to get to know him better...
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
L->R: study sesh in the park with psych coursemates on a beautiful May day, one of many international dinners with 07/08 crew, one of many international parties with 08/09 crew, sister and I on the beach during music camp, "jellyfish" illustration in pictionary, the classic CU Houseparty photo, Glasgow Westend Festival parade day in June, Mads' hen party, 10 eating lunch in a tent porch at Forum, Lied jamming in my living room, celebrating my birthday with the family, admiring a rainbow at forum, silly dancing with the boys at the headphone disco, Mark and me.
Bring on 2009... year of new things!
My one resolution is that I live this year fully living, fully loving, with eyes wide open looking up and out...
Please help me