Posts Tagged 'parenthood'

Rainlight

“Rain.

Smells of childhood

and tastes of walking home

and sounds of squeaky shoes.

Anyway,

here’s a photograph of us

it’s funny but I see…

two old friends life will make of us someday.

How that stirs my heart absurdly

as I write these words

by rainlight”.

From “Rainlight” by Mortal.

P6270049There’s a story told in the ancient world of man who along with his wife and two sons left his native land because of severe famine.  The man died and his two sons married local girls.  Ten years later both sons died, leaving their already widowed mother with only her two daughters-in-law.  Devastated she decided to return to her homeland as the crops there had improved.  The three women set off – the two daughters-in-law journeying to an alien land not of their birth.  On the road, their mother-in-law pleaded for them to return to their natural mothers and to find new husbands and make new lives for themselves in their homeland.  After much pleading and tears, one of the girls returns.  The other, Ruth, says “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God”.

The story is one of pain, of broken hearts, of family ties, of love, of commitment, of provision, of fresh beginnings, of restoration and of people being in the right place at the right time.  The widowed daughter-in-law remarries and both she and her mother-in-law make a new life for themselves together.

One of my best friends got married four years ago.  He had been living down in London for quite a few years and had met a girl who he was seeing.  When they got married, their wedding vows included the line mentioned above, “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God”.  There was something beautiful and meaningful in that.  To be at a marriage ceremony where two thirty-somethings’ wider circle of friends were somehow being brought together into a wider family.

Four years on both they and us are parents – each family now having a daughter.  Rather than having Godparents both of us have asked a broader circle of close friends to support us as couples in parenting and to hold us accountable.  We affectionately talk not of each girl’s “God Parents”, but of their “God Squad”.  So not only are the circles of friends coming together to form rings within rings or links in a chain, but now the next generation are spending time together.  Both our and their daughter share the same middle name.  Our daughter is four years older than theirs and is besotted with theirs. 

Having just holidayed together it is nice to think that there will be many more such happy memories still to form in the years ahead.  This holiday has also been spent with my in-laws.  It was a beautiful thing to watch new friendships develop between our friends and my in-laws – to enjoy eachothers’ company, to chat and day-trip together, to find our own space, to have a laugh together and to share something of our hopes, dreams and fears.  It reminded me of that marriage vow of theirs again – continuing to be realised four years on.

Their daughter is being dedicated today.  We would dearly love to be standing beside them as they make promises in public and a fresh commitment to parenting and to family.  Whilst not physically with them today, we are very much with them in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.

The story I started this post with is not insignificant.  The family tree which involves Ruth forms part of another important genealogy as shown in the gospel of Matthew.  It makes me see afresh, that relationships are not disposable – that blood is thicker than water, that commitment to love and marriage and friendship and family can conquer and overcome the storms of life.  It makes me ponder anew that parenthood is something to be taken seriously and that children are a gift from God.  There is order amongst the seeming chaos.

The photo at the top of this post is of a wonderful picture our friends bought us on our holiday the other week.  It is proudly displayed in our dining area – a reminder of happy times, of favourite places and cherished, hugely loved and dearly missed people.  If only the miles would shrink at times…

Time Stand Still

“Summer’s going fast, nights growing colder.
Children growing up, old friends growing older.
Freeze this moment a little bit longer.
Make each sensation a little bit stronger.
Experience slips away.
Experience slips away…
The innocence slips away”.

From “Time Stand Still” by Rush.

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The stabilisers are off.  A new chapter begins.  Grazed knees beckon.

Stop

“The further away I get

The sharper are the lines

You need some distance

To help you redefine”

From “Stop” by Mega City Four

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Maybe I’m undertaking far too much navel gazing this first week of January but holidays and space away from the normal routine always bring me perspective.  I’ve been thinking about the changes I sought to bring into my life 12 months ago.  As is normal for me, I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions per se at the start of 2008, but during the year I did resolve to do some things differently.

During my first surf of 2008, I discovered that I’d lost a bit of my fitness.  From the summer onwards I decided to get up earlier and go out for a run, typically doing 2 miles every second morning and doing weights every alternate morning.  I’ve always been a morning person and parenthood has shattered any illusion of needing 7 or 8 hours sleep to function.  I also recognised that I wasn’t being disciplined in reading my bible, so I would use the time in the mornings before my wife and daughter awoke to spend some time reading that in silence and without distraction.  It was all well meaning, but when combined with a long ongoing period of my daughter awakening any time between 3 and 4 am and sleep being totally disrupted between then and 7am, I exited 2008 totally whacked.  The reality is that I have ringing in my ears in the evening thinking I can hear our daughter calling for us.  Maybe that’s a side effect of listening to too many loud Sonic Youth records.  We often collapse into bed with no idea of how much or little real sleep we will get.  I took comfort in Karl’s words on Sunday about “parenting being the most difficult thing in the world”, although it is also equally one of the best things.

A combination of everyday conversations with friends, conviction about my reliance upon my car from an environmental stance, a stand-up comedy DVD by Rob Newman, my desire to keep fit and to gain more sleep and a recent sermon on “Green Issues and Justice” have led to something else I have resolved to do differently in 2009 without getting all guilt-driven about it.  The below shows some more navel gazing (neither of which are mine!)

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Hoping cycling can also reach the parts that most turkey, mince pies and associated grazing reach, I could have asked Santa for a shiny new bike, but the collision of a couple of Karl’s recent sermons and a great article in Surfers’ Path re-directed my thinking to the “re-use” part of the reduce, reuse, recycle equation.   So: reduce CO2 ommissions whilst increasing the amount of sleep I am getting and staying fit; re-use my 14 year old bike and ask Santa for panniers, new lights and a hi-viz jacket it was instead; and just cycle.

Week one – 4 days on the bike versus one in the car.  Which journey did I dislike most?  – The one in car.  Even a heated car cabin and Ida on the iPod couldn’t compete with the exhilaration of the bike ride in on a frosty morning.  Seeing snow fall later in the day with the realisation that the home journey would also be done in shorts only made me smile…Oh yeah, and I made it into work quicker than a colleague who drove in from further along our street and there was great joy in overtaking his car on several occasions.  It’s amazing how much pleasure the simple things bring…


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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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