Delay and Disappointments?

What are your thoughts on the handling of the unlocking? Now I need to stand back and dodge bullets!! We all have an opinion and all think of how it may have been done differently. Being an armchair critic is exactly what Lockdown has prepared us for – all that time thinking is bound to cause brain overloads!

I am a past master at seeing the shortfalls of actions and choices, when I am being kind I call it being “good at strategic planning” but at times if I am honest often it comes out as being more of a killjoy! It does not stop me from making idiotic decisions. In fact, I often think that when God sees choices I make, he shakes his head sadly, saying “of all the things she could have done, I never thought she would choose that!”

However God does not abandon us when we get things wrong, he continues to love us beyond our deserving and offers us a way forward to live with sins forgiven, life restored.

The visitors to Cornwall have been suffering delays, disappointments, pre booking issues, and too much is changed for some to really enjoy the visit. Not enough spaces for the theatre, not enough signposts or details to help the visitor get the best experience of the Duchy. Many are wishing it could be different.

For those who follow in the way of Jesus, in the way of the cross may find that they may also know delays and disappointments, sometimes the cost of being a Christian can seem high; “thy will not mine be done”. Sometimes the signposts are hidden too, or perhaps we are too busy to see them properly? However, the pilgrim on the journey will never be without the presence of God, even when it is impossible to believe, God is with us. That is the promise, not that we would be without hardship, disappointment, or challenges, but that we shall never be without hope and God’s love.

On our journey with God we are never mere visitors, paying to be able to spend a few precious moments with the sacred spaces, we are God’s beloved and precious children, part of his family, with a place for us at his table, destined to be with him for all eternity.

So in the grand scheme of things, the problems with post lockdown Cornwall really are just a few stones in the smooth pathway!

Stay safe and well, abide with God and care for one another, that is what pilgrims are meant to do!

For every season turn turn …

Already 21st July, I wonder how that happened? It seems very little time since Easter and yet here we are, the other side of Solstice, shortening nights and July is not around the corner but right here in front of us!

Everything Has Its Time

Ecclesiastes

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Sunset over St Ives 2019

One of the greatest gifts that Jesus gave to us was His time. God made man comes to live on earth, and to share His life in its joys and sorrows with us. Jesus’ example of living is for us today an example of how we might want to shape our lives. Jesus showed us in the time He walked on earth that God is a living God of Love, who cares passionately about His people. The time God gives is endless, that is what Easter says to us, God’s love never ends. The reading from Ecclesiastes goes on “14I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him.”

Every Day whether it is a July day or December is a day to stand in awe of God who has done this – He has given his only Son to die and rise again from the dead that all who believe in Him may have life eternal. For every season turn, turn, turn we may sing along with the Byrds, but wherever we turn, God is always there first.

“Give a little, give a bit of your love”

Ear worms: do you remember this song? “Give a little bit”, by Supertramp? It become something that was repeatedly hummed and it drove me mad. I heard this again recently and thought “oh I remember this.” As I sang along I realised that the words were a bit – well – self centred! Give a little bit – and then you have to reciprocate! Give something back. No such thing as a free gift, even when it is a catchy tune!

(If you want to hear the song it is 1977 Supertramp Give A Little Bit)

So do we like to know that we receive freely, or are we accustomed to know there is always a cost to every free gift? I am often tempted by the BOGOF offers in shops, but as I snatch two for the price of one and unpack them at home I do wonder if I really need or want two of these? There is something greedy about our desire to get something at a bargain. To somehow not be cheated by others into paying over the odds for our shopping whether it be a house or a ham roll!

Give to me first THEN I will give back to you something of a similar value – that is what Supertramp are singing. How does that shape our characters? To be eternally wanting never to risk rejection by being the one to give first, the one not to count the cost, the one to step out in faith.

The basic understanding of the life of Jesus is one of service. He heals those who are undeserving, he teaches those who are excluded from education, eats with those who are rejected, casts out the demons that destroy the soul, he touches the untouchables not with restraint, but with love.

First Jesus gives us love in his example of living. Not so we have to respond equally but because he loves us.

Then he gives us love by choosing to take on our sin. Not so we have to respond equally but because he loves us.

Then he carries his cross alone and bereft to the place of slaughter. Not so we have to respond equally but because he loves us.

He lies on the wooden cross and has nails hammered into his very flesh. Not so we have to respond equally but because he loves us.

Strung up on the cross beam he dies in pain, in agony for our redemption. Not so we have to respond equally but because he loves us.

He is buried in the cold tomb for love of us. Not so we have to respond equally but because he loves us.

He is raised from the dead to show us that love conquers death. Always. Not so we have to respond equally but because he loves us.

Give a little bit of your heart to Jesus, not for what he will give you but because to be truly a Christlike follower, we, like him, must risk the vulnerability of loving without counting the cost if we are to be truly alive. Give your heart as a free gift, for our Lord gave his whole life freely willingly, happily, for your freedom and to show how precious you are to him. Risk being alive, risk being loved. Because you are!

Celebrating Father’s Day?

Father’s Day on 21st June will be rather like all the other special days of the year since the end of March, a bit different and a bit flatter than we would like. It is easier to visit some folk but still there are restrictions around where we can go and with whom we can meet.

It is good to celebrate both Mother’s and Father’s day. It is good to recognise all that is learnt and owed to those who have shaped our lives, our learning and our relationships. Not every parent gives a great example. For some people they have been terribly hurt by those they should have been able to rely on, those who should have loved them without restriction. But we have learnt from the bad bits of parenting as well as the good.

Mae West once famously said “If you can’t be a good example, be a terrible warning!”

Being a parent myself I am all too aware that the glossy images of happy families, whether on TV or those social media posts of “yummy mummies and daddies” are not always the whole unvarnished truth of the matter. Sometimes the dreams of parenthood are not quite like real life!

In the bible Jesus refers to God as Our Father, in heaven. For may this is a huge comfort and strength. But other folk find the image of God as a Father unhelpful. Those whose father was distant or uninterested, whose father left them, whose father abused them, whose father is unknown. Those whose father died with important things left unsaid.(Remember that you can also substitute mother in each of these clauses). Sometimes our parents are not the parents we need – they struggle to understand this person who was created through them and yet is so foreign in outlook and in attitudes, and we struggle to understand them. So the idea of Father or Mother’s day is difficult. There are two ways to respond to this;

First: it is too hard to see God as a Father or Parent, and so you avoid connecting in this way, you change the images, you substitute Creator or God or Almighty as gender neutral nouns. But others still use Father, in church the Lord’s Prayer makes you wince with sadness or pain. Prayer which should enable our closer movement to God becomes impossible as we grapple with all the unresolved issues that God as Father brings up in our minds and hearts.

Second: we look internally at ourselves, our sadness and hurt, and begin the challenging process of seeing that God as Father can be the “perfect parent” – the one who does not abandon you, or lose interest, or hurt you or abuse you. To see God as the parent who finally gets it right, whose love is REALLY free and without any compromises or caveats. God is one who loves and cares for us as we are, and as we will become. This process means we have to learn to understand and forgive our parents for their limitations. We have to allow our hearts and heads to put down their definitions of who we are and choose to believe God instead. We choose to let go of the “you are worthless, you are a disappointment, you are not good enough, you are not wanted” and hear the voice of God instead.

You are wonderful, precious and beloved. You are worthy of love and good things, you have talents and skills which make the world a better place. Says God. And he also calls us by name, he makes us his own. He is our family, our past and our present and our future. Loved beyond measure. Loved beyond death into new life.

Father’s day is not a church celebration as such, unlike Mother’s Day but it is a day of challenge for those of us whose life experiences mean that father as an image needs a bit of work unpacking. Thinking about how we relate to God, and what words we use to define God, and whether gender is an issue or a benefit only seems important at certain times when the world appears to assume everyone feels and thinks the same thing!

Why not this Father’s Day give thanks for the love Jesus shows to his Father, and ask for the grace and courage to love God in the same way as Jesus did?

Are we nearly there yet?

I am sure that everyone has a memory of a car journey where someone asks the inevitable question – are we nearly there yet? The problem is that once asked it is repeat again and again until you want to tear your hair out! Often those asking the question are too young to understand time, mileage or traffic so even when an answer is given it is not understood!

Are we nearly ready to open the churches for weddings and for Sunday services, for funerals and baptisms, for prayer and fellowship? Are we nearly there yet? Are we? Are we?!!

Well not quite there but the car is packed and the SAT NAV has been turned on!

We can take funerals in church as long as the church is clean and ready, and as long as the congregations can be socially distanced. Which means less folk in a small church than a large one because of space.

At the moment we cannot take baptisms or weddings, or Sunday services, or fellowship groups, prayer groups or fundraising sessions. We are not there yet! No matter how much I want us to be!

Private prayer is a challenging path to navigate. We will need to clean and arrange the churches so that they are safe for folk to attend, but we are also asked to steward the church opening, which means that we have to have two people there to manage those coming and to ensure that all is kept clean during and after the visits. This will take planning and can only happen when we are sure that we have the right cover and that the time is right to open – by checking on the numbers of cases in Cornwall. We shall probably only be able to open for a few hours each week. We are not allowed to be open for people to just visit the building, to while away time, as a tourism venue. Our church councils are meeting to plan the best way forward for us all, a place where it is safe for all, where we can manage the process and that we can enable the sacred spaces for people to pray here in Cornwall.

No we are not nearly there, but we are getting a lot closer. And for now we have to enjoy the journey until we get there! St Levan, St Buryan and Sennen Church – here we come, maybe slowly but we are on the journey!

Singing in the Rain!

Finally after a stretch of glorious t shirt weather we now have some rain. Much needed according to farmers and gardeners, but not enjoyed but those who yearn to meet friends outside and spend time relaxing in the sun.

There is something nostalgic about being inside when the rain is pouring down, and watching urgently to see if there is a break in the clouds. When can we go out? In my memories of childhood it was always either hot sunny days or endless cold rainy storms, nothing in between! It is also rather lovely to be warm and cosy inside listening to the patter of rain on roof and windows. A caravan holiday with my young daughters in Wales stands out, it rained every day except the one with gusting winds that took us off our feet. But I remember with fondness the sense of being together, and battling through the challenges, and of course the attempted kite flying in the one rain free hour which lifted my elder daughter high into the air with the force of the wind! Luckily we caught her!

As an adult I have learned the truism of there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Living in Cornwall we have good waterproofs and a means to dry out all our clothes! But I have also learnt that to value the sun and warm, I need to have the storms too. Sometimes the sun and warmth bring wasps, biting insects, sunburn and hours queuing on the roads, not all sunshine weather brings sunshine experiences! When my mood is dark or I feel down and the weather echoes my feelings, then there is some comfort in battling in the wet and cold, and somehow it helps to move me on to an acceptance of what has been bothering me.

Psalm 148 is one I turn to often in my prayers. For me it sums up the glory and grandeur of God, and reminds me that we are called to be thankful to God for all things. It also reminds me that people are just a part of the creation, and all is made in God’s love. Thankfully it also allows me to believe that all things, the sun and serene parts of life AND the grotty bits all are called to recognise God’ presence. For some, God is found in the individual, in the person of Jesus and the fellowship of faith. Others find it easier to see God in the world, in the created order. Or both!

So as I take the dogs for their daily walk, and we arrive home wet and bedraggled, I thank God for my home and the warmth and the hot water which puts us right. But part of these thanks means I need to also recognise that others lack these simple basic things of life, and so strive to challenge the needs in our world.

The other thing I need to remember is to “be more dog!” They love walking and don’t care about the weather, they live in the moment and find things to sniff, and reasons to gamble and adventures to take. For our dogs every moment on the walk has the potential for a rabbit to shoot out in front of their noses, and a big slightly ukky puddle to wallow in, worse stuff to roll on! And when they get home they roll to dry themselves, have some breakfast and then snooze for the rest of the morning. Much to commend it!

My prayer for you is that this day you may live in the moment, find good things to explore, and have reason to be joy filled, and the courage to take the adventures that are before you. All in the right sort of clothes of course! (Rolling around and sniffing are optional extras!)

Psalm 148 verses 7-13

“7 Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women, old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted; his splendour is above the earth and the heavens.”

Learning and Teeth

As you know from previous photographs we have a puppy Labrador called Bella. She is, of course, wonderful but also a puppy. That means learning about new things. Her favourite way of learning is by putting something in her mouth. Sometimes to carry off to her crate where she can examine it in peace without the big dog Dylan interfering. Sometimes she carries it off to the bed in the study and has a good time taking a very close look at whatever she has taken. After Bella has “looked at ” something it is rarely the same!

Learning is fraught with difficulties and opportunities, you make choices and wait to see if they were the right ones. Chewing my dog walking trainer laces was not one of Bella’s best ideas if I am honest! While learning to sit very still while I grapple with Bella’s harness means that we get to go on the walk quicker – so good learning there! She had a particularly great learning opportunity when she discovered how to grab a fill kitchen roll and see what it did!

Puppy destruction is minor in the grand scheme of things. What is a bit of a bookcase or a kitchen roll compared to life and death, to Covid19 and cancer? But when we are confronted by the terrible situations of facing these awful illnesses aren’t we like little puppies learning how to cope in the new situations? Where is the compassion we have for a cute puppy when she tries her new teeth, or starts to swim for the first time, or learns how to manage her legs so she can climb or discovers her voice? We have compassion and care, we try to lead her gently but surely to know what is a good response, and what is not. None of us know how we will behave when we are faced with a complete change of our future.

The Covid restrictions and the fear of the repercussions draws out something from us that is turning us once more into children looking for help to know what to do. We are currently learning how to manage this crisis, and like Bella there is much we are getting wrong and much we get right too. We are learning. But I wonder how we will remember what we have learnt together this time? Will the times we have used our teeth come back to haunt us? Will we remember what “tastes” good and what does not?

We have learnt that family is really important. That shopping is not necessary every day. That we can live without the labels of buying and wearing the right things, but we cannot live without care and kindness. That toilet rolls and baked beans are more important than rubies! That we can live by learning to be at peace with ourselves. That we can live in peace and enjoy just being. That we can lose ourselves in a good book or film for a while, but being creative gives hours and hours of endless pleasure. That remembering the kindness and sacrifice of others is important.

As we go towards a busier time in the next weeks, will we remember this? Or will we find ourselves back in the rut of our own making from before Covid? Remembering that a rut is just a coffin with the ends kicked out!

When Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days and nights, he spent time in prayer seeking his Father. During his ministry Jesus often went away on his own to pray, he remembered that he needed time to seek his Father. He needed time away to cope with all the things thrown at him during each day. He needed time alone because he learnt that he could be content alone. He learnt that he could be at peace with himself. The wilderness was a time of learning and praying, which Jesus remembered and used during his ministry.

I wonder what have you learned and what will you use from this time? Will those around be saying “Good Puppy, well done!” OR might it be a growl and “Bad Dog!” You can choose which it shall be!

Stanley Spencer from the series of Christ in the Wilderness: playing with a scorpion.

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6 verse 8

Some folk will always push boundaries, others will always be ruler keepers.

In the recent riots in America who are the boundary pushers, and who are the rule keepers? George Floyd was killed by a policeman kneeling on his neck while he begged for help. The office stayed kneeling while George died. This was captured on a mobile phone camera and share across social media platforms. Officials were slow to act and to make those involved accountable.

The response of Trump was not one of humility, consideration for healing and restoration but rather more like the Old Testament “eye for an eye”, he demanded that force, extreme force was used to quell the rioters. No apologies for the racism that spread like a disease to become accepted in the bodies who should be working for justice and peace.

Gospel living and loving?

The shock waves of Trump’s response to this crisis has sent out a message that we cannot ignore, even if he tries to ignore it as spin. Holding a bible does not make you a Christian, being photographed outside a church does not make you a Christian. Responding to violent discrimination with a mirror image of violence is not Christian living.

A follower of Jesus looks to the gospel to be shown how to live, how to respond – I cannot see in Trump any evidence in this case that he has read and understood the gospel. Read Mathew 5 verses 38-9, 43-4: 38 ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. 43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven

If anyone wants to be aligned to Jesus, if anyone wants to be a leader anointed by God, if anyone wants to be seen as standing in Jesus’ footsteps, if anyone wants to be God’s voice, hands or feet in this world it would be good to remember what that looks like.

Jesus washed the filthy feet of his disciples on his knees, he touch the dirty, the broken and the lost and made them whole. Jesus called his people to follow him, and make disciples of all. Jesus forgave Peter’s denial, Thomas’s denial, and he trusted his message of love and service to us all. Do we really want the world to see Trump and think that THIS is what Christianity is about?

NOT IN MY NAME. I beg to differ – God is not to be used as a political photo opportunity, His world is not to be used to support violence without mercy. Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly. That sort of leader gets my vote.

Isaiah 42 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

Give us tongues to speak!

Tongues are not used in our home only for speaking! Bella the puppy (the image below was a few weeks ago before she GREW!) uses her tongue as a way of exploring the world. Everything goes in her mouth! Then if we are “lucky” she will give us a big lick too!

The tongues of fire that are associated with Pentecost have little to do with the Bella version of tongues! It much more focus on the gift of the Holy Spirit – and the image of flames was a way of showing the arrival of the promised Spirit. After this (in the book of Acts) everyone could speak every language and understand every language. In a way it was the reversal of the Tower of Babel story when the universal language was changed to many languages. Then people could no longer work together or understand one another. Pentecost allows for all people to be understood by the Apostles, and therefore the good news of Jesus to be shared across the world.

But it is a mistake to believe that the language a person uses is all to do with words. We know that there are many languages; body language, the tone of voice, the facial expressions, the way we use our surroundings. Being called into see the Bishop can be a friendly event when he welcomed me at the door – or a more daunting one when I was greeted by a stressed secretary and made to wait for 15 minutes in a cold hallway!

Sandy Woznicki writes: “The truth is, other people’s opinions of us are none of our business. Their opinions have nothing to do with us and everything to do with them, their past, their judgments, their expectations, their likes, and their dislikes. I could stand in front of twenty strangers and speak on any topic. Some of them will hate what I’m wearing, some will love it. Some will think I’m a fool, and others will love what I have to say. Some will forget me as soon as they leave, others will remember me for years. Some will hate me because I remind them of their annoying sister-in-law. Others will feel compassionate toward me because I remind them of their daughter. Some will completely understand what I have to say, and others will misinterpret my words. Each of them will get the exact same me. I will do my best and be the best I can be in that moment. But their opinions of me will vary. And that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them.”

Language goes beyond the present moment to the memories and thoughts after the encounter. Often I have preached a sermon, and the comments about it have not been what I preached, but how it was interpreted! The best example of this was preaching for a Patronal Festival for St Mary the day after a carnival, my sermon was on see the mayor and other community leaders dressed as clowns instead of the more usual smart suits, and relating this to how Jesus, and Mary turned the world upside down in their living, their choices and their caring. At the door a lovely gentleman exclaimed how clever it was to compare carnival and carnivore and the body of Christ. But not a single part of this was in anyway in my sermon!

Perhaps what we all need is a good dose of the Holy Spirit to help us interpret others. I know sometimes I don’t understand exactly what someone wants or is trying to say, and I know that others don’t understand me too! Interpreting the new rules for the easing of lockdown is also fraught with ambiguity – not much change there! Some folk hear one thing and interpret it one way, others hear the same thing and understand it to mean altogether something else!

In this next stage of living with Covid19 we need help to properly make choices that are safe and kind. Yes kind is important at the moment. We are all living in a way we had not planned for or imagined, and we don’t have a blue print for how to go ahead – just like the Apostles. They had no idea of how they were going to be able to share the good news of Jesus, baptise people and drive out the demons as requested! All they had until this point was Jesus’ resurrection appearances, and his prayer “Our Father …” and a reminder that the way to please God was to keep his commandments: Love God, Love your neighbour, Love yourself. The coming of the Holy Spirit was the great gift in helping the Apostles become able to do what Jesus had asked of them. We all need that Holy Spirit now too!

Lord give me a wise tongue to say the kind and right things in the right place. Give me a silent tongue, when it is important to hear and listen to others. And please Lord give me a tongue that heals easily as I reckon I may have to bite it often! Amen.

Bear-ly Right or Wrong!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dylan is a Newfoundland dog, he is about 13 stone and black with a tiny bit of a white flash on his chest. Yes, he looks like a bear! He loves walks and food, and sunny days when there is a gentle breeze and good shade to keep cool. He loves people and other dogs. Among his many other passions are rabbits, Peppa Pig at Land’s End Farm, Guinea Pigs, digging, his stuffed toy Hedgehog and the odd bone. He does not like swimming.

To be clear, the whole purpose of a Newfoundland dog is to be a water rescue dog. To quote Wikipedia “They were originally bred and used as working dogs for fishermen in Newfoundland. Newfoundland dogs are known for their giant size, intelligence, tremendous strength, calm dispositions, and loyalty. They excel at water rescue/lifesaving because of their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed feet, and swimming abilities.” So you can see that Dylan should adore being so close to the sea here in Cornwall.

Alas, Dylan did not read the job description of being a Newfoundland (Newfi). Apart from slobber – yep he nails the slobber part! But Dylan will only go into the water when it is: a) warm enough b) not choppy or waves surging c) when it does not go over the height of his elbow as an absolute maximum d) only if he feels like it. Webbed feet – yes of course. But no way never is he going to swim, thank you very much! Even when Bob (my husband) goes swimming Dylan just sits with his back to the sea and ignores all the pleas to join in the fun in the sea – you can see him thinking, if I don’t look, Bob can’t know that I can hear him calling.

Dylan may have all the history and the potential to be a great life saver at sea. But there is no way that his is doing it! Dylan would rather smell the flowers thank you very much!

I wonder why it is that we like to think we know someone or what they do for a living. So often what we know is not who the person is, or what it is that a person does, but we know only our own assumptions. And bad or untested ones at that!

When I was newly ordained, one Monday morning I took a phone call “Hum, so you are in” huffed the caller. “I thought you would be out doing ministry not hanging around the house.” Later that day I did go out to a meeting, and when I got home the answer machine had a message: “Oh you are out. I thought you would be in praying. I suppose you are out enjoying yourself.” I learnt that no matter what I did it would upset some folk, and then made a decision that I would answer first to God while I was in this weird life of being a parish priest. But it is hard when people want you to be one way, often a perfectly viable option, but it is not your way. Being true to myself, and to God is more important than dancing to other’s tunes. But I would not have any integrity if I did not allow others the same freedom.

Some of the recent press reports and social media “gossip” have been all about showing up those people who are not behaving as we think they should, about naming and shaming those who choose to ignore the guidelines and new laws. Of course this is important, and potentially life changing decisions. What has it turned us into? A sort of state police who get affronted and angry when others are not following the “rules”? How squeaky clean are we all anyway? Jesus talks about those without sin throwing the first stone.

We are also making huge assumptions about how others have to behave – and making huge assumptions about the lives of others too. Yes there are a number of … well, idiots who make very poor decisions. But some of the ways we respond are detrimental to our own mental health. We don’t know about the lives of others, about what challenges they are living with, what burdens they bear. All this policing makes us stressed and angry.

Wouldn’t it be good to be a bit more tolerant? After all we cannot inoculate against stupidity!

Shall we try to be a bit more Dylan? He does not mind anyone playing in the water, or enjoying a swim, as long as we don’t try to force him to join in! All he asks is that we let him enjoy the flowers, a bit of digging, meeting other dogs and people, and his toy hedgehog when he wants some comfort! I think this might be something like that thing Jesus said – you know: that thing about loving your neighbour as yourself!