Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Tour of Lancaster

So I've been living in Lancaster, in the north of England for two months now and I thought I'd give you a tour.

Lancaster is a typical English city - at first it seems simple and outdated, then, as you get to know it more, it becomes confusing and quaint (and outdated). Eventually it becomes familiar and homely (and probably still outdated) but I haven't reached that stage yet.
     There is one central street, mostly pedestrianised, off which are various shopping precincts, hidden cafes and bargain stores. Wrapped around this is a short, elongated, ring-road (of sorts), built something like Formula One circuit. However, it operates a frustrating one-way system, as seen in many other English cities, because it wasn't designed for the current quantity of traffic, and thus has an average speed limit of approximately 4.3 miles an hour.
     The city slopes towards the River Lune and Morecambe Bay and the residents commiserate with each other about the exertion required by the hills, but only because they've never lived anywhere with serious climbs, despite the Lake District being just up the road. The city does offer some fine views, however, and partly because the tallest building is the Cathedral Spire (I think there must be some local ruling on the height of buildings). The other noticeable structure is the Castle, which stands prominently overlooking the maze of little roads, the tidal river and the people bustling about the town centre.
     Lancaster may be small but it has a quiet energy, a feeling like things are happening there. I wonder what?

Sunday, 23 October 2016

What can happen in a second

A goal can be scored, a wicket can be taken,
A gold medal won or an old record broken.
A word can be said, for good or for bad,
   but never retracted, for what has happened cannot be undone.
A lie can be told, a heart can be fractured,
A voice cut off, and a life can be shattered,
   but the fallen can rise at the dawn of the sun.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Expressions of Beauty

Sometimes I think we don't spend enough time actually looking at each other, in fact when in conversation we often avoid eye contact. Because of this I believe we can slip into thinking that our faces are all very much alike, but when you look closely you discover this is not even remotely true. Each person has a unique face, with its own expressions, lines and features and each one is beautiful in its own way.

I like to visit the website of a friend of mine who takes fantastic photographs, particularly of people, and I'll admit this blog post is most aimed at getting you to have a look. See how amazing people's faces are, don't just glance and move on, but appreciate their beauty.

These photos were shot by Kyle Jaster and can be found on his website:


Thursday, 6 October 2016

A Human Problem

The foremost Middle East question in most people's minds today [as it has been for many years] is how to carve up the real estate. Where should the Jews live, and where should the Palestinians live? How should the map be drawn?
     Deeper than this, however, is a problem that one hundred million acres will not solve. It is not a new problem. It is as old as Abraham. It is rejection. It is the attitude that says, 'You don't belong. I don't want you around. Just get out of here, will you?' Even Christians are in the habit of taking a side [usually the Jews].
     The terrorism and violence in today's world is the Arab way of screaming, "What about us? Don't we count for anybody's attention or respect?"
                                                                                 Taken from Once An Arafat Man, by Tass Saada

In any situation where there are a group of children, there will always be some that cause trouble. If you are with the group for a long tie (i.e. months or years) it is likely that at some point all of them will be obviously naughty. Why do they do this? There could be several reasons, but one is that they simply do not feel like they are being noticed. It might be a feeling that stems from somewhere else, but it can take hold of their life and make them angry and distrustful. I see the same effect in Tass Saada's description of the people in the Middle East.
     Tass grew up in the Middle East, as a Muslim, and hated almost everyone for his situation, but especially the Jews for kicking him out of his homeland. He became a guerrilla fighter for Yasser Arafat but later moved to America. After many years he became a Christian, through dramatic circumstances, and now works to bring peace between the peoples of the Middle East.
     Conflicts like this can exist on a small scale too, even down to the level of a single family. It is so important that we do not live for ourselves but for others, ensuring that no one is missed out or unloved. Only this way, will painful disputes be overcome.

Tass continues:
God is in the business of accepting and embracing the people he lovingly created, not rejecting them. As long as we major in rejection, we will continue reaping a harvest of animosity, frustration and death. Rejection is a dead-end street.

We can make life in the Middle East work again through the intervention of the One who said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Once An Arafat Man is the incredible story of Tass Saada, and well
worth a read!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

In Pursuit of the Lion

There is a Lion. He is descended from Kings, a mighty warrior and he has many names. He goes into dark places. Places most of us fear to tread. But there are some who follow in pursuit. We hunt his tracks and eagerly desire to catch a glimpse of him. Occasionally he stops and we see him on a hill top, or hear his roar by the ocean.
     Each morning we rise and in joy and strength begin the chase afresh. Some days we may ask someone if they have seen him, or can tell us something about him. On rare occasions we find a person who has met him. On those days we don't go anywhere. We implore the person to tell us all they can of their encounter. It's not unknown for us to spend a whole week learning more about the Lion.
     As we go we tell anyone who will listen about our hunt. Some look at us with scorn or confusion, but others are wide eyed and wondering and a few will ask if they can join us on our mission. Frequently we will run, spurred on by excitement, leading us even to pursue in the night, guided by a light we barely understand. At other times we tire, and that is when we rely on each other to support us, we never leave someone behind. Chasing the Lion alone, is all but impossible. The paths are tricky and we have all stumbled and maybe even fallen, but just when it seems we might lose sight of our target he seems to wait, to allow us another chance. You see this is a Lion who wants to be found and so we will go on searching.