Wednesday, November 28, 2007

yorkshire sculpture park

I'd wanted to go for ages, but never got around to it, but on Monday I went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, just up the M1 from me.

Some friends of mine from church had been telling me how great this place was, in particular some of the stuff by Andy Goldsworthy. He does some amazing work with natural materials, wood, stone, plant stalks. There were four really big rooms, each with some construction using one of these different natural substances. One of the rooms had this massive screen made out of twig/stalk bits from blackthorn bushes (from which we get sloes....mmmmm....tasty sloe gin), all held together by spiky bits from blackthorn bushes.

Another room, my favourite, had been created into what I imagine it must be like inside a beaver's lodge. It was like a large cocoon of logs, all lying on top of one another, making a remarkably warm, cosy space. This picture doesn't really do it justice, but you get the idea.

The room was huge, initially really dark, to the point that you couldn't see other peoeple who were stood around the side of the room in the shadows.

I found it really breathtaking, it looked stunning, it smelt really good, it felt so warm, and was just incredible to think about the effort needed in putting it all together.

The rest of the park was really good too, the weather was good for walking, especially considering what it has been like recently. My friend and I had lots of conversations about 'what is art', and we spent an awfully long time watching a heron, which was so still, and so perfectly positioned, that we felt sure it was some sneakily placed sculpture. Eventually, after at least ten minutes, it moved. But just because it was a real heron, that moved and everything, does it make it any less art? was a really good day, and if you get the chance to go there, I would take it. The Andy Goldsworthy stuff is only there until the beginning of January, but well worth a visit.

every so often you realise the journey is worthwhile

No, I'm afraid I'm not talking about something deeply profound, just football!!!

On Saturday I went down to Milton Keynes to watch Chesterfield. It was a fantastic game, which the BBC's report really doesn't do justice to. Both teams played some brilliant attacking football, which made for an open, and thoroughly entertaining game.

By the time it got to stoppage time, Chesterfield were leading 2-1, but it still felt like anything could happen. And it did. The Chesterfield fans were all standing at the end where MK Dons were attacking, the MK Dons fans were therefore, on the whole, at the other end of the stadium. MK Dons were attacking, about two minutes into the four minutes of stoppage time which had been announced. One of the MK Dons players managed to get the ball into the back of our net, the referee, with the help of his assistant, quickly ruled it out for handball. All the MK Dons fans, down at the other end thought that a legitimate goal had been scored. They all started cheering, thinking they had salvaged a draw from the game. Also oblivious to the referee's actions was the stadium announcer, who having assumed that the goal had been scored fairly, pressed the button to start MK Dons goal celebration music playing (Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis).

So imagine the scene, the MK Dons fans are singing and dancing along to the catchy "der de der, der de der, der de der de der de de" chorus of the aforementioned song, and having realised the comedy of the situation, all the Chesterfield fans starting singing and dancing along too. After a good ten or fifteen seconds, the stadium announcer realises what has happened, and sheepishly faded out the music, the MK Dons fans bring their celebrations to a swift conclusion, but the Chesterfield fans all keep singing even louder, dancing more exuberantly than before, until breaking down into hysterics, at what has possibly become one of my all time favourite football moments.

The 220 mile round trip was most definitely worth it.

Oh, did I mention that MK Dons were top of the league....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

and something else i've been meaning to do for a while.... start getting my fruit and veg delivered, through on of those organic fruit and veg box schemes. This is the website of the company I've started using.

A good friend of mine has been suggesting I start doing this for a number of months now. I put it off over the summer, knowing that I would be away, and not about to use stuff up.

One thing that I've noticed pretty quickly, is that with the produce being organic, it hasn't been treated with preservatives, therefore, you need to use it up a bit more promptly. This is no bad thing really. Made some soup today, and my freezer now contains various curried vegetables.

I know it is probably a bit more expensive doing it this way, and I can't help but feel just a bit pretentious doing this, but I'll see how it goes. I'm looking forward to 'being forced' to use vegetables that I don't normally cook with.

Richard writes here about his experience at the River Cottage shop. While I enjoy getting my food through one of these box schemes, I can't help but wonder if what I'm actually doing is buying into some 'middle class guilt relief exercise', whereby I feel better about myself because I'm buying organic food, and not from a big supermarket......I don't know.....I think I could probably over analyse this too much.

why did i ever think it would be any different

I mean really, whatever made me think that England would pull it out of the bag tonight. I mean they even got our hopes up in the second half, coming back from 2-0 down, to equalise at 2-2, putting us within touching distance of making it to the European Championships. But no. They had to blow it.

I shouldn't be surprised really. After all, what gives us the right to think that we have the right to get to these major championships. We're England. That's all. Nothing more, nothing less. We're just one country, whose professional football infrastructure has sold out to major corporations, looking to make a quick buck from our beautiful game.

I could go on, but I'm guessing the smattering of people who read this blog don't read it for intricate football comment. I'm off to watch Chesterfield away at MK Dons on Saturday, with our Australian and Hungarian centre backs.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

joining stuff up

So I've been doing this course that Sheffield Diocese run, called 'The Art of Spiritual Direction', which follows on from a course I did last year called 'Discipleship and Spiritual Direction: Listening to God, self and others', or something like that anyway. One of the aims of the second course being to equip people with the experience, confidence, and tools to better accompany people in some form of 'spiritual director' type relationship. The course is really good, and over the last 18 months of so it has been very good to have these regular quiet days, where I've been able to spend time praying, reflecting, and learning. But that's not really what I want to write about today.

Each day on the course begins with a prayer exercise, which is then followed by a time sharing in groups of 3 (triads - not the chinese mafia sort however). One of the things that emerged in my sharing was this feeling that parts of my life don't feel particularly joined up at the moment. There are all these thoughts going round my head, questions and doubts about God, about youthwork, about life in general, and then there's this youthwork practice going on in my day to day live, me living out what I believe, and what I believe I am called to do at this time. But these two areas seem quite disjointed. There seems to be no relationship between the two.

I have come to realise that while I was doing CYM, and then when I was doing my Masters degree, I really relied on the structure those two course gave me which provided me with the space and opportunity for my actions and beliefs to interact with one another. For my theology to inform my practice/life, and my life/practice to inform my theology.

In a similar way I fear that when I come to the end of the course I am currently doing, that the joined-up-ness of my spirituality and life may also become a little less joined up.

The day after I had been on my course, last Friday, I went to 'The Youthwork Conference' in Southport. Now truth be told I wasn't much looking forward to the conference bit, more the going away with my friends/other youthworkers from Sheffield. The conference was ok actually. Andy Flannagan was 'leading worship' - I really like Andy, he was with YFC back when I was, and there's something about his music, his sincerity which resonates with me - so that was pretty good. But to be honest none of the talks or seminars really grabbed me. Apart from one on the Sunday morning, which I decided to go to. It was by a guy called Andrew Smith who works for Scripture Union/Youth Encounter. He works for a project bringing together Christian and Muslim young people. It sounds really good.

And as I was sat in this seminar, being challenged about my views, being invited to participate and share my views, I realised how much I had missed this level of stimulation, and this invitation to participate in these kind of discussions. It really energised me. Without doubt it is the one thing from the weekend that has stuck with me.

So all in all, what I'm trying to say is this: that I thrive when I have the space and opportunity to engage my brain in some thinking/academic type stuff, that I've not felt as though I have that opportunity at the moment (maybe something to thing about as I contemplate my future), and that I hope this blog, and interaction with others on blogs, may provide some of that space, opportunity and stimulation that I need.

so here goes.....again....

For a little while now I've been wondering what I should do with this blog. Over the last few months, maybe even a year now, my inclination to write anything has been somewhat limited. In part this has been to do with my laziness. In part it has been to do with the way in which facebook has been taking over my life. I've come to realise that I spend a lot of time in front of the computer, but a lot of that time is not used very well. Interacting with people by 'poking them' or taking endless personality quizzes really does very little for me. That's not to say I don't enjoy those things, but its short term, slightly self indulgent, unhealthy like a McDonalds burger type enjoyment.

In recent weeks a couple of incidents have helped me reflect on this use of my time, the fact that I could be using it better, and that fact that using it better might actually stimulate me and satisfy me a little bit more.

In short what I'm trying to say is that I've decided that what I'm going to do with this blog, is, for the time being at least, start writing on it again. Hopefully with some regularity. goes.....again