This week is looking like a manic one, so I’m taking a breather before it starts properly. It feels a bit like the last two weeks of uni etc have been a whirlwind, and I’d quite like a day of nothingness now. I knew that would happen.
Last weekend I went up to London to see the lovely Mumford & Sons:
We hobnobbed with the stars afterwards, well, there weren’t that many stars, but it was still fun. After-show parties really aren’t that showbiz though, and we were tired. A highlight of the evening had to be stopping off at Old Kent Road Asda/Mcdonalds at 1.30am… scary times. I loved the concert though, and it was fun to be with friends.
This week is a brief hiatus before heading to the Midlands this weekend. I’m very excited to be jumping feet first back into some SA stuff, after what feels like an age. It’ll be good to be in and around old stomping grounds too.
I have much uni work to do, I’ve just about scribbled out a rough plan for my website, and am now sourcing Marx and Engels quotes, Good times. I’m loving English too, though its hard when I don’t know what nouns are, let alone accusitive and nominative etc…
Work is great, we’ve started to get lovely Christmas items in now:
In two weeks time we’re off to pray in Paris too!!
Every student needs a summer job, right? That’s what I thought to myself, back in late May, as the long summer loomed ahead, empty of revision and all things essay-related. I put in some CV’s in shops around town, and trawled recruitment sites online, and then I just emailed a few companies on spec.
So then I got myself a job, which is fantastic. I’ve loved it, this past week or so, learning new things, trying out products, standing out in the High Street giving out samples to tourists… of all the shops in the world I could have found work, this one truly suits me.
Today I was working through the first of many staff training manuals, and had the exciting task of tasting lots of different types of tea. I tried Russian Caravan, Gunpowder, Original blend, Petiagalla Orange Pekoe and Harmutty Tippy Golden. I had to comment on each one, writing down selling points for each also. I liked them all, and approached the task with an aplomb that I think freaked out my colleagues. I even brought some of the Gunpowder & Harmutty home, as I liked them so much.
Tomorrow I am meant to sample Earl Grey blends, which may well be less of a joy unto my soul, but, for the record, I love my job!!
For the past three years I’ve been working for the Salvation Army based at our wondrous Uk & Ireland headquarters in London.
Today is my last day, which is weird. I don’t think I expected to have such a melee of feelings, for the bittersweet-ness to be quite this intense! This lunchtime I shared a meal with a small group of my colleagues, and I have to admit to pulling back from the conversation a few times just to muse about that little group of people, about the joys and challenges of journeying together, and about all the things I have seen over the past 36-ish months.
A lot of people think that THQ is quirky, and it is true that it has its own unique character and personality. When you have sat, desk quivering through the sprinkler-test, or ridden out the boil-freeze-boil-freeze heating system, I think you come out the other end with a real fondness for the place and for the people, and for a greater desire than ever to see this denomination fulfil what is was raised up to do – to save souls, to grow saints and to serve suffering humanity. Actually, I don’t think that’s a reflection on the sprinkler system, I think it’s the spirit of God that hovers in the place, sometimes unnoticed but always having an impact.
I’ve come to the conclusion that every member of the Salvation Army should work or volunteer at THQ for at least a month of their lives. It gives you such a fuller picture of how the SA fits together – like seeing the cogs that turn the machine wheels, and I’ve found it inspirational. I’ve tried to add some colour to the place – with my bright socks and glittery reindeer adorning my desk, but more than appearance it’s about attitude… working here has given me a refreshed vision for the Salvation Army, re-invigorating my hope for a church raised up to live out an Isaiah 61 sort-of Christianity: setting the captives free and proclaiming good news for the poor and the downtrodden and the oppressed.
I’ve already mentioned the year of discipleship, and ALOVE uk chose the four words above to explore this theme further. I like to think they sum up my experience of working for the Salvation Army, and specifically working to champion the cause of prayer within it. I was and will remain passionate that we are called to pray and to wrestle and to ‘believe the future into being’ with our prayers.
These years have been about Loving – the most fervent prayer, in my opinion, springs out of a love relationship with God and with a passionate belief that we are his beloved. I long for more people to grasp what this means, and for the church as a whole to live out of that place – understanding our position as friends and lovers, as opposed to servants and employees of our creator. Love gives and spends itself on behalf of others, love inspires the desperate prayer for a lost family member or a broken colleague or peace in our world. Oh that we, that I, would learn to love more perfectly.
They have been about Living – understanding prayer as something that weaves through our day to day lives with beauty and simplicity, living out a journey of ups and downs and sudden-corners that shake and unnerve us but that we can make it through as a community of believers with a unified mission. It has been believing that the ‘life in fullness’ promise of God extends to my life in the office, behind a desk, wrestling with a photocopier – the mundane and everyday things we all do.
There has been Learning, many many lessons that I have grappled with and often only petulantly accepted. I’ve learned about myself, my skills and talents as well as my weaknesses and struggles. I have learnt to work in a team and to be more ready to ask for help and to be less frightened of failing. I have learnt that no-one has it all together and we are all walking and changing and being healed. I have learnt that prayer helps me learn – I hear Gods voice and he teaches me at a pace which is perfect and which never pulls me down or makes me feel small.
And then, there’s Losing. (We’ll leave this one to last because it’s hard to come up with a natty paragraph about stuff which still stirs my heart, still hurts to think about). I remember when I started this job, some keen prophetic type told me that, as my influence rose, at the same time there would be a going down, a stripping away, a brokenness that would increase simultaneously. I wasn’t so sure what all that meant at the time. The thought of my having any influence at all freaked me out, and brokenness just didn’t seem to fit into my nice, neat plans for things. Why would God bring me down at the same time as raising me up? From my three years older and maybe a little wiser place, I think I understand it a little more. I’ve felt the sting of unanswered prayer and I’ve seen the frustrations of unmet expectations around me. I’ve lost people who I loved desperately at seemingly the most untimely moments, when so much seems unfinished. There have been many, many times when my prayers have been ‘God… this makes no sense… what are you playing at?’
Through all these experiences, there have been some truths that I hold on to, that have been I think indelibly written on my heart through these past years of triumph and struggle, of joy and of sorrow. These include: Prayer works, Jesus always does something even if it looks like the opposite is true. None of us are too far away from God, or our lives too ‘messed up’ for him to heal and change and use for his glory. I’ve learnt that he really does choose the weak and foolish things to shame the wise, and that he really does use all things for good for those that love him.
This truly has been a beautiful chapter of my life, and one I will thank God for, ponder on, and learn from as long as I live.
This summer, the 24-7/SA Prayer team had the privilege of collaborating with ALOVE UK, and the International Development department at THQ, to take part in the first all-summer-school road trip.
We packed our suitcases, we saw more of the UK and Ireland’s motorway system than I ever thought possible, and we had the amazing opportunity to interact with every young person who attended one of the Salvation Army’s 14 divisional summer schools.
Now that Road Trip is over, and we are back in the office, back behind our desks, I have been musing that these past few weeks. I realise that they have probably taught me more about prayer than any of the books I have read or talks I have heard recently. I wanted to share some of those lessons with you in this article. You might not be surviving on service-station coffees or living out of a suitcase, but sometimes all of our lives feel like this: like we are on the move, like we don’t know where fit, like we’re not sure what life will throw at us next. Prayer gets me through these unsettled times.
One of the things I quickly found out about the fast-paced Road Trip lifestyle, was that there was not much sleep to be had! In all the late nights and early mornings I deduced that getting up extra early for an hour of concentrated intercession would seriously impede my ability to deliver seminars later in the day. My prayer life became flexible – I talked to God over the rabble of my travelling companions musical taste, I whispered prayers before seeking to enthuse teenagers about the things of prayer, and I think we all prayed when, in the evening ‘gig’, we had to don comedy sailors hats and step into the ‘disciple-ship’ – an inflatable dinghy where we were each interviewed about our discipleship journeys.
All of us have to pray on the move like this, when the responsibilities of work and family life crowd in. Sometimes we can find ourselves feeling guilty, because we simply do not have the time available for long devotional times. Sometimes we feel like we ‘aren’t good enough’, because we compare ourselves to others and become convinced that we don’t measure up. The truth is, God isn’t measuring our prayers on some sort of league table; he doesn’t rate us on our eloquence, or give us extra blessings because we manage to squeeze in an extra chapter of Ecclesiastes in our evening devotions. We don’t need to feel guilty, because it is perfectly acceptable, and I would argue invigorating, to mutter a prayer under our breath as we wander around the supermarket, to pray for the other parents in the playground by simply running through their names in our heads. One of the main messages we were trying to get across with Road Trip was that our personal discipleship journeys – our engagement with worship, prayer and social justice – are not extra pressures that we need to squeeze into an already packed schedule, but that discipleship is ‘whole life’ – something that should pervade and shape the lives we already lead.
The other important lesson I was reminded of through Road Trip, is that the power of God and the effectiveness of our prayers is not increased or restricted by how we are feeling at any given moment. I loved teaching young people about prayer, (especially the bit where we wrote sentence prayers on paper aeroplanes and all threw them at each other), but as any of you who’ve worked with youth will know, their engagement and enthusiasm varied immensely. It depending on the time of day, on how many hours sleep they’d had the night before, and on how many wasps were circling overhead. Sometimes I felt like they were hanging on my every word, sometimes I doubted they were even awake! I loved the material we were teaching, but after the fifteenth time I really had to rely on the Holy Spirit to inspire my delivery of it. I found myself musing that most of us shift in terms of our eagerness and belief in the power of prayer, depending on any number of factors. Some of us struggle to engage with prayer because we have experienced the pain of unanswered prayer, when we have prayed and prayed only to see the opposite happen. It is hard to trust in a faithful God after an experience like that.
I was reminded that God is the same, and his promises remain true, whether I am feeling encouraged or exhausted, inspired or irritated. Isaiah 40:31 says: ‘Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’ That is a promise I hold onto through the shifting seasons and emotions of life. We all need his hope and his strength to keep us going in the times when it feels like we are going nowhere, and to encourage us to move on from places of comfort and safety when things have been going well.
Road Trip is over now, our flip-flops and suitcases have been packed away until next year, and we face the prospect of a new school year and new seasons approaching. My prayer is that we will each find prayer infiltrating our day-to-day lives, and that we will learn to more fully rely on God’s presence and promises to sustain us.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the real privilege to travel to a number of places around the country as part of the ALOVE UK Summer Schools Road Trip Tour.
ALOVE is the SA’s youthwork department, and this summer they, and us at 24-7/SA Prayer – along with representatives from the International Development department – have been visiting every single one of the 16 Summer Schools taking place the length and breadth of the UK & Ireland.
We have been doing an afternoon of seminars (two each, one with the juniors and one with the seniors), and then an evening ‘gig’, with sung worship, games, testimonies and a speak.
So far I have been to Stourbridge in the West Midlands, Chingford in Essex, Milton Abbas in Dorset:
As well as the Wirral and Uppingham in the West Midlands.
I had mixed feelings at the beginning of the tour. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about being away from home all that time, and I was nervous about all the speaking, but as we got started I soon found my flow, and even when it’s felt exhausting, I’ve still loved being out on the road.
It’s such a privilege to be able to spend time with young people, to hear their stories and to be able to get across that their prayer lives can be something they don’t need to feel guilty about – that their individual personalities will shape the kind of prayer they find most enjoyable and engaging. I have loved them coming up to me at tea and saying, ‘I’ve found out that I am a snorkeller’, much to the bemusement of other staff members. It has been fab to be at the evening gigs night after night too, to see young people responding to God – some of them for the first time.
It’s also been great to visit schools we’ve had some engagement with before, to see how some of the kids have grown and to hear some of their journeys.
Apart from all the spiritual stuff, some of my other favourite Road Trip moments have to be:
- Trying to lead a seminar whilst being attacked by wasps, managing to pause and time what I was saying around loud thumps as people attempted to squish them.
- Being given free-reign to plan a prayer room at one of the schools.
- Getting stuck in the most humungous traffic jam on the way home from Chingford and singing Westlife songs to pass the time.
- The luxury of staying in a Premier Inn for one of the evenings… sounds like a little thing but after lots of travelling and very little sleep it really did feel palatial. (It was also very amusing that they’d managed to book me in as Mr Ricky Adams…)
- My taxi journey to Milton Abbas with the most cheeriest and friendly taxi driver in the world.
- Getting to know the other team members better, chatting about our lives and experiences and dreaming about the future of the church.
- Realising the value of community even more as I communicated with my friends and Wandsworth-family by text whilst away. It can feel like a bit of a parralel universe being away for so long, but I think the friendly texts and emails kept me connected and sane.
I’ll probably think of some more and have some other tales to tell after the other tour dates: Hastings tomorrow, Scarborough on Monday, Wokingham on Wednesday & then Belfast on Thursday.
It’s been a busy few weeks. In fact I’m not really sure how it got to be August… strange that. And the weather has turned distinctly autumnal, so I’m beginning to think that summer has entirely passed me by this year…
I’ve been to some lovely places recently. I went on a three-day retreat down to Penhurst, which is near Battle, in Sussex. I so needed some time out to think and process, and the retreat was perfect for this. There was a little bit of led teaching, and then lots of space for reflection. To begin with, I was like ‘How on earth do I fill all this space?’ but by the last day I had chilled out and was feeling like I could have stayed for another three days at least!
The other women on the retreat were all from missionary contexts, so I loved hearing their stories (I now know more about Ameobic Dysentry than I ever thought possible). It was so good to share meals and to share life together, and we built up a real sense of cameraderie and community. The days started and ended with prayers in the little chapel, following celtic daily readings, which I found a real blessing.
Getting back to London was a real culture shock. It was all so noisy and crowded after the tranquility of the countryside. I really wanted to try and hold on to that peaceful space inside of me, even though everything seemed to crowd back around.
A few days later I was heading south again to visit a friend. I got to see the sea again, to feel the breeze on my face (and to eat the yummiest raspberry meringue pavlova in the world). I had a lovely day.
And then there was Stourbridge (which is in the West Midlands). I was there to do some summer school teaching, for the first stop of what will turn into a bit of a scenic UK tour. The next few weeks see me taking in Dorset, Chingford, Scarborough, Hastings, Belfast, Uppingham and Wokingham… it’s gonna be fun!
Apart from the travel, there is much else to keep me occupied. I have a couple of cleaning jobs now, so I can regularly be found decked out in attractive tracksuit bottoms and rubber gloves regularly… so much for glamour!
Church has shut down for the summer, so there’s just prayer meetings and Sunday services going on… it’s all very weird, tougher than I could have imagined. We’re all still reeling. I’m wondering when I’m going to stop being in denial. So much is changing.
Work is a bit mad, we’re having a big move-around on our floor, with people from another office coming to join us, so it’s meant lots of cupboard sorting, and lots of shredding! I’ve learned I am bad at filing, bored by mandane tasks, but excellent at throwing stuff away (especially if it’s stuff that needs keeping but I don’t know where to put it… whoops).
I’ve been reading a lot too – I enjoyed ‘A thousand Spendid Suns’, which is about two women and their lives growing up in Afghanistan. I’ve also been wading through ‘The Time Travellers Wife’, which I found a little confusing. Oh, and someone brought me back a copy of Rob Bell’s latest book ‘Drops Like Stars’, from the New Wine conference… it really is amazing, in fact I think I should post seperately about it. It’s a big, hardback book, with beautiful design work and engaging content, all about the link between creativity and suffering – a pertinent theme.
Apart from all the mad travelling, the next few weeks involve some more cleaning, some inspiring meetings and some visits from friends I haven’t seen in a while. At least life isn’t boring!
I was rooting around this afternoon looking at some of the photos I took at the Fullness retreat, these give more an idea of the location rather than what we actually did, I guess, but I thought I’d post them as I really like them.
This was outside at the back of the Custard Factory. The weather was lovely and the coloured graffiti really stood out. I wished I’d thought about popping out and snapping beforehand, as we were rushing to packdown, so I only had time to snaffle a few illicit shots… lots of bright spray paints, peeling paint and rust – my favourite sort of a place to take photos.
Again, there was much in this corner which could have kept me snapping for hours. I loved the starkness of the tower, which is out of shot to the top left, I loved the broken brickwork, the sharp angles contrasting with the curling graffiti, the plant growing out of the drainpipe and the small snatch of blue sky. I was inspired by the scrap of blue knitted fabric stuck in the barbed wire, too. I may have a bit of a photoshop twiddle with this, because think it’d look better in black and white perhaps, with some bleaker contrasts… we’ll see.
On to inside artwork now, a beautiful contribution from the beautiful Kate. I loved the ‘flowingness’ of this. A dangerous prayer to pray methinks, but she really captured the heart of the event with this.
I loved the picture of the girl with her hands in the fire. I’ve thought about it a lot since then. Was she warming her hands? Was it a cleansing thing, like the heat of the fire symbolising holiness? And then the fire seems to be radiating, shining from her face and hair. I like the thought that being that close to God radiates like that.
On Saturday 2nd May, fresh from our Durham trip, we found ourselves in the creative quarter of Birmingham, setting up for the UK Territory’s first ‘Fullness Retreat’.
These retreats were first pioneered in the USA Eastern Territory, they basically involve a room, plenty of coffee, and a bunch of hungry people waiting to meet with God.
We set the room up with some prayer focuses, some art space and lots of comfy corners for people to do business with the good Lord.
At midday, people started arriving from far flung corners of the UK (like Bristol and Banbury). There were about sixty of us in total, as well as 50 others who couldn’t be there in person, but were kept in the loop with live text updates, and who prayed alongside and fed back prophetic words and pictures they received.
So what did we do? We fasted; we worshipped by singing, by praying loud, and by mumbling quiet praise. We listened to fab, inspired teaching about fasting and prayer, and then went off on our own for a bit to meet with God. We listened to him and shared what he spoke to us about the Salvation Army in the UK, and we chatted in groups about the exciting things God is doing around the country. We prayed for the new Directors of ALOVE (The SA’s Youthwork expression), and we doused each other in anointing oil (which was probably perfume). We painted on the walls, and danced about, and made things with clay. It was great.
And what did God do? Well, he showed up! It was so weird, in that the location was, to put it politely, intriguing. It had been a nightclub venue the night before, so it was all a little sticky, and on the Saturday night it morphed into a nightclub venue one more. We were praying alongside a sound check playing hardcore trance for a bit, and the whole place felt quite soulless and sad, but after a bit of praise and worship, our little area felt warm and transformed. The walls were made of cold white breezeblock, but soon heartfelt prayers and prophetic pictures danced across them, bringing a real life and vibrancy to the place.
The stories coming out of the weekend are exciting. People heard God speak about new directions for their lives. Others encountered the healing power of his Spirit. Some made new commitments and for many the passion for prayer was fuelled and revived. It felt like a line in the sand, one of those weekends you look back on and say ‘that was significant.’
The stuff God said was amazing too. I was awed that you could ask 60 people to listen to God and they would come out with pretty much consistent stuff. There were some common themes – the call to holiness, our mandate to partner God in
setting the captives free, the heart cry to see the Salvation Army become all that God intends, the need to make costly sacrifice, to lay down what is passable and strive for the best.
The bit that was most powerful for me happened on Sunday morning, when we split into two groups, and the ‘parent generations’ spoke words of blessing and affirmation over our generations. It was a powerful and releasing moment.
I loved the conversations over coffee, the undercurrent of excitement that came from giving 24 hours over to God like that, the sense of solidarity in knowing that we were ‘going without’ as a corporate body, in order to find a new place of intimacy with him. I loved the sense of corporate responsibility, the sense that sixty people gathering like that really could make a massive difference.
And the conversations since the weekend have been inspiring. It’s been fab to open my emails of a morning and read more stuff that God has been saying to people, new ideas for going deeper in prayer, and feedback from those who were challenged and inspired. It seems that this was not just another event, but something that was and will continue to be catalytic for prayer in the Salvation Army.
So it’s a watch this space thing I think!!
(in an attempt to work through my blogging backlog)
Two weeks ago a bunch of us trundled up to Durham for the above course. It was run by the SA’s in service training people. It was the first one of its kind, and was set in the beautiful (if remote) setting of a Durham seminary college:
Location wise it was incredible, the place had a real austere and grand feel about it, without being cold and overbearing. The long sprawling corridors were inspiring, and the refectory looked like something out of Harry Potter:
It was great to be in a beautiful place with 25 or so others who really wanted to learn and to understand more about how God can bring freedom and healing to people. It was great to hear different teachers – a fresh perspective on this stuff is always helpful, and our speakers were informed, helpful and most of all ‘normal’ – they made the topic sound like something accessible we could all be doing, rather than some weird ministry that only a few are called to.
At the beginning of the week, I thought a three day long course would be a bit of a slog, but the length of time seemed to be just right, and by the end of the course there seemed to be a real tightness about the group. It was the kind of community that is formed when a bunch of people really journey through some stuff together. I felt like I’d known them all for ages, there was a real deep level of trust, and the sense that it wasn’t a random accidental group of us that just happened to end up there, but a selection God had brought together for a purpose. I am excited to see what comes out of that and how things develop as a result of the conversations and connections we made that week.
Most of all, I was again encouraged and reminded that God truly is all about saving, healing and redeeming people’s lives from the darkness. I pray that he will use me, and all of us to partner him in that.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget our tour of Durham in the most persistent driving rain. I’d have liked to see more of the city in the sunshine, it looked like a lovely place.
(This deserves a shout-out, if only for the beautiful design work above!!)
24-7prayer are joining up with Delirious? and a huge list of other friends for a one-day festival on Sunday 24th May – called the Big Church Day Out – on the incredibly beautiful Wiston House Estate, West Sussex.
From 2.30pm in the afternoon until 10pm late that night, there will be a whole variety of experiences for all the family… with worship bands and speakers, fun stuff for children and activities for young people, an acoustic cafe and other food venues, and our very own 24-7prayer chapel.
Charlotte Terris and her small team have been dreaming up all kinds of creative ideas to turn the 700 year-old Wiston chapel into a beautiful prayer room, based around the Lord’s Prayer. It’s all very exciting. Tim Jupp, from Delirious, said that the prayer room should become the focus as the day progresses… prayer for the area, and for our nation.
So… we’d love you to be there, if you can come. Already churches have been buying blocks of tickets and booking coaches for the day… up to 10,000 people are expected. For more information, and for tickets, you can click across to the website; http://www.thebigchurchdayout.com
The question? How can I develop a healthy self-image when every formative influence in my life taught me half truths, or worse, complete fallacies?
It’s one of those, ‘if I had a pound for every time’ moments. Maybe it’s worded slightly differently, maybe it’s not so bold an admission, but the confusion and longing in the words is the same. And I’m looking beyond, beyond a girl with her nails manicured immaculately, beyond the teenager hidden in swathes of baggy clothes, beyond the studious violin virtuoso who practices to drown out the discordant insecurity in his heart. Their cry is the same.
What hope is there? For those of us who didn’t have the cosy luxury of 2.4 security? For those who had to scratch and scramble their way to survival. Those of us from the ‘wrong’ side of town, with the ‘wrong’ surname, with opinions and experiences alien to the status quo? How do we ‘make it?’
It’s in conversations like that where I wish there was a book that spells it out. Where I wish there was a neat 2+2 formula: read these Bible passages, add 3.6 hours of prayer, divide with the square root of forgiveness and all will be well. I’m an organised person and, so often, I find myself wishing there were rules, patterns, a neat path through what sometimes seems insurmountable terrain.
But wishing doesn’t answer the question. Wishing doesn’t encourage the person sitting in front of me. Wishing doesn’t comfort anyone in the middle of the night when sleep is elusive. What can be done? What does make the difference? How do you begin to chip away at the pesky suggestions of unworthiness? How do you start to silence the whispers of shame, blame and condemnation?
I love the line in the ‘wear sunscreen’ song, where Baz Luhrman talks about the basis for his advice being solely his own meandering experience. I find myself thinking that walking this journey out gives you a clearer picture than the even best textbook could. It is meandering, imperfect, unfinished but honest.
Sometimes my answers are more coherent than other times. But they usually centre around a few factors.
Where do we get it, if we have none? And worse, what about those times when we have dared to gather up the fragile flakes of it, from the edges of our existence, only for them to be smashed and crushed? Job puts it like this: “when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. (ch 30:26). For me, hope is a bit like a tow rope: it looks limp and insignificant, but it connects you to something that can pull you onwards, even if your own engine is corroded and broken. When you’re being towed, you can do little else but cling on and trust that the vehicle towing you is strong enough (Is it obvious here that I had some unfortunate childhood experiences with an ageing Lada?). You can’t necessarily see what’s in front but you will make it to your destination. It is God’s responsibility and strength that will direct us into truth, but it is our choice to hope, even when it seems futile, that connects us to him and pulls us away from a life stranded on the hard shoulder with no packed lunch. Determination, persistency, hanging in with gritted teeth even when it feels like we have no fight left; it all works together for good in this stuff.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the relationship between fight and surrender, strength and weakness, what is victory and what is not. I’m loving the Message translation of 1 Corinthians 1:25: “Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s ‘weakness’.” The ‘seeming absurdity of God’… yeah, I see that. In this stuff it’s the moments where he asks us to give in and let ourselves need Him and other people, the times we’re called to trust, even though it has got us into deep and dangerous waters before, the challenge to admit that we don’t have all the answers neatly scribed in a perfect paperchase notebook… that’s so opposite to what the world (and the church?) would call strength sometimes. Jesus’ greatest victory was won through torture, death and seeming defeat, Often we learn the most vital truths about identity when it looks like we are broken beyond repair.
Hmmm, this one’s a bit of a paradox. Struggling to understand our identity makes it hard to believe that God would want to spend time with us. The pesky whispers suggest that everyone else can connect with him effortlessly, but for us it’s like trying to carry out a mobile phone call on a cross country train – erratic, interrupted, and broken up by repetitive tunnels. And then I think of Peter… Insecure, hotheaded, outspoken… And I love the whole exchange after Peter has denied Jesus. He doesn’t just brush over the embarrassment, and he doesn’t flay Peter for his betrayal… Jesus’ reaction brings redemption to the situation. And, in asking Peter to affirm his love, there springs out something of destiny. When we can hold, even briefly, the brave thought that our stumbling and inconsistencies do not exclude us from his love or his plan, when we find we can whisper, ‘you know I love you’, even if we speak with stuttering uncertainty, I believe something exciting happens.
I think I used to think that some of us had the advantage of a healthy grasp of our identity and some of us had to do without it. But I am increasingly sure that it isn’t this black and white. I’m finding we’re all more murky shades of grey. We are all more secure in certain areas than others, we’re all on a journey where we can find out a little bit more of this truth every day. It isn’t an obstacle we jump over and then forever count as conquered. Most of all, I feel like it is an adventure. Like those scratch-cards where you have to rub away the silver coating with a coin to see what is hidden underneath, we’re all in a state of ‘mid-uncovered-ness’… but our value is greater than any figure even the most shiny one could ever state!
Saturday morning dawned, grey and drizzly, as I lugged a bright pink stuffed suitcase round the corner. The time: 7am, the purpose: a prayer day at a SA church not far from the town I grew up in.
Bleary-eyed, we navigated our way to the M1, which was in a state of roadwork-related disarray but thankfully not too busy. It was at this point that I realised I had brought pages 1,2,3 and 5 of 5 of the directions, but that the all-important page 4 of 5 had dematerialised.
(We wondered why it always seems to be the vital page that disappears at a moment like this. We didn’t need to know how to get from Wandsworth to the M1, but having an idea what to do once we turned off the motorway would have been useful. Anyway…)
Once we made it to the church building (with only a bit of creative directional improvisation), we were swiftly ensconced in set up: laying craft items out on a table, tearing up sheets of newspaper for under chairs, distributing pots of play-dough, putting Jelly Babies in bowls at the front. When the first delegates came in, they were heard to wonder whether they had walked into a playgroup… musing that made me smile a lot.
Helped by some coffee, we got into the swing of teaching: I expounded wildly about how we pray most comfortably in different ‘styles’, according to our personalities. The lovely delegates made collages, practised centring prayer, went on a short walk, found newspaper articles to pray about, and made models from the aforementioned play-dough depicting, something/someone they were praying for at the moment.
Then we had soup… amazing soup - leek and potato of the highest variety. I love meal times at days like this, just to be so mixed into the life of a church, hearing the conversations, sharing some of their journey, learning of their hopes, dreams and struggles. Laughing with people I’ve just met, though feeling as if I’ve known them for years.
After lunch the teaching fun continued. This time we thought about our distinct roles in prayer – as intercessors, watchmen, spies, armour-bearers, prophets and overseers. It was so exciting to see lights going on in people’s eyes, and to hear the buzz of excited conversation as people with the same role gathered in small groups and chatted, dreamed and prayed together.
Later in the day, we gathered in a restaurant, debriefing about the day and continuing some of the conversations that we’d begun. We learned about each others lives, we shared our joys and pain, it felt like family. We didn’t feel like visitors, but like we were at home. Over our free salads we discussed ways forward, and how to build on those conversations. Then we travelled back to the main church building, wandered around seeing all the different rooms, hearing about the different ministries that take place in them, again feeling privileged to hear some of the energy and inspiration behind them.
After this it was back on the road, back up the motorway, back through the sleepy streets of London and back to our homes. I was left marvelling again at the exciting things God is doing in the Salvation Army in the UK, how prayer is still steadily pulsing away on the agenda and what a privilege it is to be able to catch glimpses of how that looks in practice.
My life is often a feat of trying to fit a lot of diary engagements into not enough diary days. Especially in the excitement that is September, when prayer events aplenty seem to spring up all across our fair isle. I love the busyness, the feeling of being kept on my toes, the drive to keep going to God for inspiration because my own supplies have long since dwindled.
September comes with a sense that the year is drawing to a close. My ipod strayed to a Christmas song the other day and I didn’t forward skip it in disgust. Pretty soon the shops will be full of associated garb. I begin to feel the familiar sense of satisfaction that another twelve months are almost over and done with, and with that comes the urge to start looking at the statistics of my year. How many towns have I visited? What was the top moment? Where have I flown to? (and what was my carbon footprint like?) What has surprised me (there are some top contenders for that prize this year, let me tell you), What have I learned?
Also, meetings about next year have started to creep into my week. Both this week and last I found myself enmeshed in buzzing conversations, dreaming big for 2009, sharing concepts and visions and working out partnerships. I was excited about the potential of this year, and have not been dissapointed, and next year seems to be following suit.
But there is more fun to be had before it’s time for that. Highlights of the next few weeks include trips to Bedford and Huddersfield and Banbury to hang out with lovely Salvation Army praying people. After that there’s a training day we’re pulling together that I’m really excited for. Exciting social occasions coming up include multiplicitous dramatic performances from my gifted friends, plus a cool engagement party, and an evening making Fair Trade goodie bags for a coffee evening we’re having with church.
Church is the other excitement in life at the moment. For the past twelve months we’ve been out of our building, while the dear old place was razed to the ground and replaced with an altogether shinier (and less death-trap-laced) new one. It’s pretty much done now, and it’s been really great to watch the finishing touches being applied. This leaves us with the fun process of shopping. So I have been measuring the height of filing cabinets, musing over the practicality of teal sofas and observing discussions about the correct type of potato masher to buy. I’ve learned things about decking out a church that I never would have even considered before.
All in all, these are exciting times. I find my head merrily full of projects that I am really able to get my teeth into. I find myself anticipating the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, amazed at what I have seen and experienced over the past nine months, and thrilled about what is to come.
This week has been festooned with intercessory delights. I figured between my allegorical musings I would write about some of the different prayer events I have been to this week, just because I’ve enjoyed them all lots and it reminded me why I love prayer so much.
Can’t remember if I’ve explained the water snake thing before, but Lyndall explains it beautifully in her post here: http://lifeoflyndall.wordpress.com/2008/07/23/mustnt-grumble/
Anyway, so the water-snakery began on Monday, when I was faced with the task at work of sending out our monthly prayer diaries. In the past I may have been heard to grumble, because stuffing 850 envelopes can sometimes feel a little repetitive, and cannot be called the most exciting part of my job! Anyhow, I surprised myself this time by being quite excited by the task. As I handled the envelopes I found myself praying for those who would receive them, imagining how God could move through each of those people, praying that they would be challenged and inspired in their prayer lives. It didn’t feel like mindlessly stuffing envelopes, it felt like putting ammunition into people’s hands.
The next water snake moment was on Tuesday. We have a community meal and then a prayer meeting every Tuesday. It’s one of the highlights of a Wandsworth week. For a number of reasons it’s felt like I’ve missed a lot of those over the last few weeks, so it was wonderful to join in with that again. We had a beautiful meal, followed by waffles. Then we prayed. There were only three of us left, by that point, but it was one of those prayer meetings that just seemed to take a life of it’s own and flow without us directing it. We each got to pray for some of the things God’s been putting on our hearts, so it was a good space.
Wednesday’s Water-snakery was in the guise of department prayers. On my floor at work, each unit takes turns to head this up each week. This week was the turn of the Mission Development Unit. We all gathered, not altogether sure what to expect. I was unprepared for the direct challenge that came accross through this time. We looked at the passage in 1 Corinthians which talks about God using the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, the things that are not to nullify the things that are, etc. We then had to think of the times that God had surprised us over the past week or so, and then write them on small cards and thank God for them. Then we were challenged to pray for more opportunities for him to do that. It made me think a lot.
Thursday was a busy day. We have whole-office prayers each Thursday at 9am, so we all trooped downstairs for that. We started by singing, ‘Praise my soul the King of Heaven’, which is always a good, rousing beginning to any reputable prayer gathering. Then we spent some time looking at Psalm 147, considering the faithfulness of God, and praying for the strength to trust in that. I love this passage because it contains one of my favourite verses: “The Lord heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.’ We then sang a song called, ‘If your presence’, which is taken from Joshua and Exodus, which asks how can we do anything, how can we move from this place, how can we minister love without God’s presence. I felt it was a really pertinent challenge for us all, and went back upstairs to my seat with that uncomfortable feeling that accompanies God’s conviction.
Then last night a couple of us headed to the house of a friend for more intercessory capers. I didn’t really know many of the others in the group, but it didn’t matter, and it was nice to meet new people. We prayed hard for Wandsworth, each taking an area or aspect of community. I had to pray about business, which was an intrigue as it isn’t something I find myself praying about a lot, but it was good discipline. At the end of the meeting we chatted some more about some of the stuff God is doing here, and generally just hung out with each other a bit.
However tiring it sometimes is, bouncing from prayer gathering to prayer gathering, I realise that I wouldn’t swap it for the world. I remembered how much I love just getting my teeth into some praying, just showing up where there are a bunch of people with a common goal, listening to words and pictures that people have had when praying and then using them to guide how we pray. I do love the water snake lifestyle!
Friday night afforded me the opportunity to get back into the swing of late night prayer, and I loved it. I was at a church in South East London for their monthly youth night of prayer. There were about 20 young people there between the ages of 15-20ish, and they prayed up a storm!
I’d forgotten the buzz that comes from sitting in a semi dark room, knowing that you are going to be there for the next twelve hours, anticipating where prayer is going to take you.
I’d forgotten how exciting it is to be around a bunch of youth who just so want to pray, and who will do any number of wacky creative prayer excercises as part of this.
I was humbled and amazed to hear some beautiful and honest prayers, you know the type that aren’t slick or polished but raw and heartfelt.
I was amazed to hear them praying for someone in their community who is struggling at the moment. Their grip of spiritual warfare was impressive.
I loved the 3am slot, where we just all stood in a circle and said thankyou to God. It could have gone on for hours, and there was a lovely sense of worship and adoration.
I also loved my faithful armour-bearing friend back home in Wandsworth, who stayed up till 4am, at home on his own to pray alongside us. That was such a blessing.
Most of all I loved it that Our Father caught all of this. That he was listening and present for every minute of those hours. That he strengthened us when the caffiene wore off and guided our prayers, that he even inhabited the moments of silence. That he hovered over the young people sleeping in corners, That he rejoiced and delighted in each of them.
I loved it that a group of them snuck out in the early hours of the morning and ‘tin-foiled’ some of the leader’s cars too. A top moment!!
As of tomorrow morning, myself and my esteemed prayer-leading colleague are off to the wondrous town of Visby, in Sweden, to lead a week of prayer teaching.
It’s a bit of a heavy schedule, with 4 lectures each day (so we’re leading two each, each day!). So if anyone can spare a prayer or two that would be cool.
We’re back Saturday 17th!
The sun shone brightly down on Millwall Football stadium in South London, as thousands of Christians gathered there to mark the seventh Global Day of Prayer.
London joined over 60 other UK cities, and 210 countries across the world, praying on the theme, ‘Your Kingdom Come… on Earth as in Heaven.
The celebration began with resonating worship, led by Noel Richards, Geraldine Latty, Godfrey Birtil and Graham Kendrick. Children’s choirs, dancers and representatives from the local government of the area also led different sections of the programme.
Joining in agreement, the 20,000+ Christians prayed into a number of different areas:
- For the Street Pastors initiative, which sees Christians taking to the streets and offering a listening ear and practical assistance to those they meet.
- For projects dealing with youth crime and urban deprivation in London.
- For the Hope 2008 initiative.
- For those affected by knife and gun crime.
- For the new Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and his staff.
- For those affected by natural disaster, poverty and climate change throughout the world.
The father of Damilola Taylor, the schoolboy murdered in London in 2000, led a time of united prayer asking for forgiveness for the perpetrators of these crimes, and for peace and justice to reign in the capital. The congregation sang the words of the prayer of St Francis, ‘Make me a channel of your peace’, as a white dove appeared on the big screens signifying this peace and hope.
Representatives from different people groups living in London led Scripture readings in their native languages, including Hebrew, Tamil, Portuguese, Chinese and Spanish, and the congregation joined in a responsive version of Psalm 8, declaring the Majesty and Glory of God’s name.
The atmosphere in the stadium was electric as people stood worshipping in groups and kneeled in prayer on the pitch. Prayers flowed for repentance, blessing, salvation and transformation for the city of London and further afield.
The event ended with a responsive prayer which was prayed in each of the countries taking part in the Global Day of Prayer. It felt powerful and exciting to be praying words that millions of others would also be lifting to God across the world. We’re all waiting expectantly to see how God moves as a result of the faithful prayers of his people across the globe on this day.
Here are some pictures:
(I’m thinking this could be a long post!)
So, ROOTS was amazing. We got to Southport on Thursday evening to find blue sky (a big change from rainy London). We did a little bit of unpacking and then discussed some practicalities over a meal.
Friday dawned bright, and again sunny, and so we wended our way to the (lovely, spacious, white) tent to begin the set up. The day passed in a blur of mounting posters, assembling lampstands, splaying black fabric and setting up gazebos. Gradually more and more of the glorious folks who would make up the prayer team arrived, and so our assembling was punctuated by hugs, greetings and catch ups with some dear friends. Later on we had a collective staff meeting, which was a great chance to hand over the whole thing to God and connect with him before the madness started!
In the late afternoon delegates began arriving, which was great, as everything started to feel really alive and like it was really happening. We had an ‘after-hours’ slot in the prayer tent, and people came in really ready to connect with God and the theme. Historically the Friday night is sometimes a bit quiet, and it takes people a while to get into things, but this year seemed different – right from the start there was a real passion and fervence about the prayer going on.
Saturday was great too – the fervence continued, and loads of people came in for prayer. It had rained overnight, so we had to do a bit of bailing out, but it was dry for most of the day, despite a severe weather warning! We had some groovy seminars, including one about going ‘beyond 24-7′, which was really inspiring. The day passed in a rush of conversations and praying. We had a blue gazebo where some of the team were interceding at all times, so we popped in and out of there throughout the day. That night we had another ‘after hours’ slot, titled ‘Ignite’. We wanted to leave space for the Holy Spirit to do stuff, and He definitely did, in ways we didn’t expect.
Sunday began quite wet, so much so that we had to build a moat around the prayer tent, which was a first! We had some more seminars, more praying with people, and another great after-hours slot, where we cut people free of things that were holding them back. I had a couple of really useful and inspiring meetings, and went to bed feeling very excited about things God is up to!
And then it was all over too quickly – Monday morning flew past, and before we knew it we were packing down. This seemed to pass in record time, and everything fitted neatly into the van. We said lots of goodbyes, then had a relaxed meal with the seven of us that remained. It was lovely to wrap everything up and discuss some of the breakthroughs we had seen.
It was then back down the M6, merrily spotting Eddie Stobarts, chatting about all we’d seen and done. There were no traffic jams, and it was lovely to see Wandsworth again.
I was astounded again over the weekend by the power of prayer and the difference it can make. I was surprised again by the presence of God in unexpected places. I was personally challenged and convicted about lots of things. Think that all deserves a seperate post though! Suffice to say that it was an awesome time and there is lots to be thankful for!
Very many people ask me what it’s really like prepping for ROOTS, what we actually do in the days before hand, how it all comes together etc. So I thought I’d try and describe some of it in a bit more detail, with snippets from other years, and some funny photos (hopefully).
The first thing to assert is that I have remembered that I actually do enjoy doing this stuff! It may be a bit tiring, it may destroy my fingernails and necessitate lots of crawling around on my knees, it may mean spending hours fighting with recalcitrant duct tape, but I somewhere in it all, we have a good time.
There’s something about the general cameraderie that cheers you, even when you’ve been going for hours. Then there are the creative moments, when someone has a brainwave at 11.30pm on the night before we leave, and suddenly everyone is scurrying around looking for the most random components – like copper piping, or snow spray.
There’s the joy of the pre-roots shopping trip. We start in B&Q, manage to get half the list, and then head to Homebase. Invariably we are still missing something so then it is off to Wickes. This is scary because it is full of builders and we look quite out of place. We also get quite a few odd looks when asking for metres of polythene sheeting, or black netting etc. Sometimes there are ‘eureka moments’, when we find exactly what we need, or something better than we had thought of. Then there are the desperate moments when we have exhausted all the DIY shops and therefore find ourselves improvising manicly.
Once all the materials have been collected, the fun really starts. Everyone in their corner working on one display or another, and all swapping about helping each other, providing encouragement, and plying each other with hot beverages. Yesterday one of our illustrious team was spraying dust sheets black, another was delving for missing prayer tent items, while I was turning a cardboard box into a replica of a city. Yet another was on external photocopying and printing errands.
Some of my favourite moments included the year when the only time for a planning meeting was after a Tuesday night prayer meeting, so the three of us gathered with Cocoa and plotted to 1am. We had some cool ideas that year. Then there was the time when Jo lost her voice the week before Roots. We prepped with the use of sign language and by writing a lot of notes!! It’s at moments like this I miss our old hall, because the whole place used to transform into a ROOTS preparation zone at this time of year. Sawdust was ground into the carpet, corps programmes took place in the shadow of burgeoning piles of fabric, and we enjoyed the fun of throwing cushions off the balcony on to unsuspecting people below!
The challenges of this year have been how to prep without a large space in which to spread things out, remembering in which of our many storage locations things actually were, working out how to fit prep around a stacked Wandsworth programme, and some hectic work deadlines, and trying to fit everything into a smaller van. It’s been good to have to improvise and be flexible anyway!!
I think what I love most of all is the knowledge that what started as a scribbled idea in a notebook, or a bullet point on one of our many lists, will become something physical and slot into part of the bigger picture that is the prayer tent. When it’s all in place it makes all the hard work worthwhile, and it’s a joy to see people engaging with God in that place.
I love the fact that my job mixes together prayer, people and creativity, and I guess in the preparation for ROOTS I see that all the more starkly! I am very thankful, and very excited about the conference itself!!
So, a couple of snaps from the last couple of days:
So, I seem to be suffering from a similar ailment to certain friends of mine, who neglect their blog for a couple of weeks and then have a million things to fit in one entry! I have only been neglecting for 9 days, but even still lots has been going on, and so in an attempt to be organised I am going for some categorisation
Work – Work has been very cool over the last couple of weeks. We wrote a resource to help people get to grips with praying for their communities. It basically has 28 questions you work through, which then gives you a workable foundation to build a prayer strategy on afterwards. So that was much fun. I enjoyed canvassing opinions to work out the best colour scheme for it, and spent days agonising between green and purple (all the while secretly adoring shocking pink). Purple won out in the end. I spent this week despatching said resources to lovely praying people, so that’s nearly all done. Have some other writing stuff to do but having got around to that yet.
ROOTS – (I’m cheating because the work paragraph was getting too long!!) ROOTS is the SA’s annual renewal conference, held in Southport. To cut a long story short, we get a huge tent, pack it with prayer stations and a glorious prayer team, and then 4000 people descend (There are loads of other top quality venues too). It’s the first bank holiday weekend in May, so a week today we will be there (argh!). So this week has passed in a flurry of packing boxes, losing gazebos, purchasing silk flames, compiling endless lists, misplacing vital components, driving round South London and squeezing stuff into mini-buses. I can’t wait for ROOTS this year, it feels like God has some exciting things up his sleeve!!
Wandsworth – Wandsworth is great and wondrous. Good things are happening here. Last Saturday we held a Civic Service, with the Mayor, Head of the Council, Police and MP’s etc. We also lauched the Wandswoth Street Pastors team, which was very exciting. 170 people came and we chatted, prayed, networked and generally had a fab time. There was a cool gospel choir too! The next few weeks look exciting too, as we have a couple of specific days set aside for prayer and prophetic intercession for the borough. So I am really looking forward to those. I’m heading up a lovely team of ‘Prayer Pastors’, which is great experience. Oh, and the corps hall is nearly built. It’s looking very swish and it’s all feeling a bit more real! We should be in the new building by September. Apart from that, life at the Boiler Room is exciting. Oh, I’m speaking this weekend there and haven’t written my sermon yet – this is not so good!!
Life – Life has been an intriguing old thing the last few days. Along with a host of other joys, I was ill last week, so was looking forward to a nice week before the madness that next week will be. But my life has resembled an Eastenders script over the last few days, with one late night drunken admirer turning up at the door, and then a couple of nights later the police!! It’s ok, I do not have a secret criminal past… they just wanted me to help them with some stuff. (I’d have been wholly more appreciative had it not been 12.15am!!! )Think it’s all sorted now though. Although I think my housemates probably think I’m mad!! Hasn’t been much space for much else, what with ROOTS prep. Oh, I went to Costa on Monday and debated the issue of grace… that was a highlight!
Misc – I can’t think of much else but I love the word miscellaneous. So must think of something interesting to say!! Oh, that’ll do. I’m looking forward to May 12th, because me and an esteemed Wandsworthian colleague are off to Sweden to teach on prayer for a week… So that will be fab.
Also, I want to recommend that you all read ‘A Certain Rumour’, by Russell Rook. It’s all about Cleopas and the journey along the Emmaus road, but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about the Kingdom of God, hope, lots of exciting things like that… a top read.
Philip Pullman is another of my favourite authors, and he’e just published a book called ‘Once Upon A Time In The North’. I am very very excited about Monday, when I will be able to buy and read this.
Now, I need a new book to read after that. (I am behind on my target of 100 this year)… anyone have any suggestions?
I think it is unbelievable how many things I have managed to cram in since last posting. (I also think it’s quite unbelievable that I am still standing!)
Early last Saturday (after about 2 hours sleep and a battle with an evil wasp), I jumped aboard a train at Euston and wended my way up to Liverpool. I’ve mentioned before how train travel is one of my favourite things to do, but even I ended up sat staring into space for most of the journey!
Three hours later I disembarked to a crisp yet sunny Liverpool. I navigated myself around an underground station and caught a local service to a place called Bidston. I mused on this journey that I had absolutely no idea where I was going! Eventually I made it to the small hamlet that is Heswall where I was picked up and ferried to my weekend’s location.
‘Unbelievable’ was the title for the divisional youth councils there this year (area youth celebration thing, if you’re not of a salvation army persuasion). Saturday was also the kick off of the area’s 24-7 week, so the two were merged together and the youth had a sleep-over-prayer-service thing.
My job was to be interviewed, to enthuse them about prayer, to do a little bit of speaking and to fill an hour of prayer. This all went ok, with no major disasters. As well as this, they had other prayer activities to do in the other night hours, some rocking worship times, and some passionate games of football.
After everything had finished, a very lovely friend came and picked me up from the middle of nowhere, and then we went back to Liverpool overnight. It was great to catch up. Then I got the train home yesterday.
I’m so tired it feels like I am thinking and writing through soup, but it was a journey worth making and as ever I was encouraged by the prayers and the lifestyle modelled by the youth up there.
That’s the end of my manic journeying for a couple of weeks (only for things to get super mad again in may), so I’m going to take the opportunity to relax a bit, write a bit and hopefully recoup some sleep!
Just to dispel any myths that working in prayer is glamorous, I thought I’d share with you the story of our Wednesday afternoon this week.
Just as some background, we’ve been looking at reviewing some of our processes recently. Stuff like admin, communication, filing… fun stuff like that. Wednesday afternoon came around and it was time to tackle communication. We’d worked all morning, and had lunch, and so we decided to have a brief ten minute blast back at our desks before hitting the review. It was at this point that our neat plans came crashing down around our ears, and chaos and catastrophe ensued!
The first signs of trouble were some unhappy noises from Friendly Boss’s desk. She was searching for a file on her computer, which, though it had been faithfully completed previously, just happened to have inconveniently dematerialised. After a futile search through the annals of the filing system, the only solution was to recreate it from scratch, as it was the deadline for it to be sent off. Not a good moment. The technological malfunction was then exacerbated, as her small computer began to have health issues, until it froze, unspeaking and immobile. In Friendly Boss’s defence, she remained calm, and did not throw either computer out of the window, a temptation which may have proved too strong for me.
On my side of the desk divide, things were equally fraught. Lots of things we seeking to distract me from my tasks, not least bored colleagues and disgruntled email correspondents. I was looking forward to the tea and chocolate which were to be integral parts of the communications review. I was also feeling quite sleepy, a fact which did not abet my ability to rise above the administrative mayhem bearing a cheery grin!
Things continued in a similar, unfruitful vein for an hour or so. By this time we decided to abandon the communications review and retreat to a purveyor of latte and muffins in a last ditch attempt to redeem the afternoon. There was, however, one last grim moment to be had.
In order to preserve the dignity of Friendly Boss’s Sometimes Hapless Guide Dog, I will leave it to your imagination as to why we found ourselves huddled in a grimy corner near the shopping centre. I would also like to state that we were off the beaten track, we were prepared for the eventuality, and were therefore not harming or disrupting anyone. It was therefore quite bemusing as a random man started telling us off. Just to give you an idea of our crime, I quote his catchphrase: “You people are nasty innit (insert repetitive expletives here)”. Now, I am quite a placid person, but after a few minutes of this I found myself retorting, which, though brave, proved futile.
We reached the aforementioned purveyor, finally, laughing about the litany of disaster that had befallen us in such a short period of time. Life in prayer may not be glamorous, but it certainly cannot be described as dull!!