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Tag: Doctor Who

The Road Well Travelled

Image: Sharon Court ©

I’m a fan of Doctor Who. Have I mentioned that before?

I re-connected with the Whoniverse at the tail end of Christopher Eccleston’s incarnation, when David Tennant took the reins (and boy did he!). I loved the way each episode was full of humour and insight, frustration and compassion – and of course a generous helping of mild peril and running around a lot! I was shopping for new trainers at some point during this re-connection and settled on a pair of red converse style shoes, as my nod to Doctor Who.

They’re a bit worn out now. You can see from the photo, the scuffs and dirt and the cracks along the edges. Not entirely waterproof either (though they were never meant to be I guess, being mostly canvas).

There’s a parallel at the moment, between my old, worn out trainers and some of the people I’ve been connecting with. Part of my role as in the Youth Chaplaincy project is to come alongside people; to travel with them on their journey of life. To offer companionship, a listening ear and empathy, even though, as a Chaplain, I can’t personally change anything.

Thing is, this journeying business has been happening, not at work, but at home.

I’ve been travelling with a young Mum whose husband died of cancer (he was 35 years old).

I’ve been journeying with a young woman who is struggling with a restrictive medical condition (she’s in her early 20s).

And now my journey extends to include this young woman’s mother, whose own mother is gravely ill, as well as another woman whose older husband is seriously ill.

Each of these situations are distinct and disconnected from each other (apart from the family link between the young woman and her grandmother). Each of the people involved is feeling a wealth of emotions at different times, and weighed down by a burden of love and anxiety which is hard at times to put into words.

And I can’t change any of them.

So what does it mean then, to take ‘the road well travelled’? Most of us have heard of the phrase ‘the road less travelled’ but it seems to me that lots of people are on this well-travelled road of pain, suffering and uncertainty.  We’re all of us familiar with the stress, anxiety and even powerlessness that comes in certain seasons of our lives.

And yet, despite all the people on this road, having these periods of struggle in your life often seems to be a very isolating experience – we don’t talk about it, we share our pain with only a few people and we hide away our vulnerability from others saying “Oh it’s ok.” “We’ll get by.” “It’s been worse!” or the classic “I shouldn’t complain!”

Shouldn’t you?

Why not then?

Who said that how you’re feeling isn’t worth complaining about, or sharing with others? Who declared that suffering is somehow a gradable thing, and that some types of suffering are more worthy than others? By keeping things in, our feelings can intensify. They can become concentrated and begin to manifest themselves through our moods, behaviour and even as physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain and indigestion. Sharing our pain and burdens is how we heal each other, and how we help to form a community. But I’m digressing a bit…

The thing that struck me about all this is not whether or not I can change anything (which I can’t) but actually the importance and value of being on the journey with someone. Mostly I’m cheering from the sidelines – praying, texting, popping in to visit sometimes and listening – giving time to listen and care about what’s being said. Offering my time, my empathy and at times even my tears, for the situations we find ourselves in.

My trainers are tatty and old. Worn and marked by the journeys I’ve taken in them over many years. But I think that’s good thing. Those marks and scuffs are the signs of the journey I’ve made and am making. The holes and tears in the seams are the marks of the things I’ve gone through: the grief, loneliness and burning frustration that I’ve felt at different times in my life.

And in some ways, those scruffy old trainers might be more valuable, more useful, more flexible and responsive to the unexpected puddles and grit of life, than a pair of shiny new ones? With shiny new trainers, we might be wary of getting involved; worried about splashes of mud, or sharp stones. But scruffy trainers have seen it all and they don’t mind a bit! They’re not bothered by grass stains or mud splatters or anything else for that matter. They’ve done a few rounds in the washing machine and they’ll no doubt do it all again.

Because you see, we need each other.

We need community, relationship, friendship and honesty – to hold us up, and root us to the ground. To lift our heads, but also to offer a place to hide.

We need each other – not in our perfection, but in our weakness.

We need each other in  our battered, worn through, holeyness, rather than our shiny, new, untouchable ‘successful and got it sorted’ apparel.

We need each other.

I hope that you may learn to value your battered, worn out holeyness as something worth sharing with others. I hope that you slowly gain the courage to be vulnerable enough to share the truth of your journey with others. And I hope that you and I might find some joy in amidst the difficulties, on this well-travelled road.

Playscheme story Day 5: Here and There and Back Again

It's loom-tastic!

It’s loom-tastic!

Sarah thinks she might be able to give the T.O.I.L.E.T. more thrust, but will it be enough to get them back to where they need to be before the universe unravels?

 

This is the final part of the story specially created for this year’s Playscheme. North End Playscheme is 21 this year and seeks to serve and bless families in the North End area of Portsmouth. Its almost entirely run by volunteers, many of whom are from local churches, who give up a week of their time to help provide a fun, safe environment for children to play and learn in.

 

 

Playscheme story Day 4: The Shoo of Shooliness

It's just a grubby white trainer...or is it?

It’s just a grubby white trainer…or is it?

Sarah discovers that Doctor Woo has taken a very special object as a souvenir, but something terrible is happening as a result!

(This is part 4 of a 5 part series specially created for North End Playscheme)

Playscheme Day 3: Aunt Marge and the Myriad

Aunt Marge's cottage garden

Aunt Marge’s cottage garden

Doctor Woo and Sarah are pursued across the galaxy by the beetle people, but it seems only Aunt Marge can explain why…

(Part 3 of a 5 part series, specially created for Playscheme)

Playscheme Day 2: The KnowsNot

WooToo, the KnowsNot

WooToo, the KnowsNot

Doctor Woo and Sarah find themselves on another planet, which appears deserted, until a strange and forgetful creature rushes up to meet them…

(This is part 2 of a 5 part series created specially for North End Playscheme)

 

Playscheme Story Day 1: Sarah meets the Doctor

IMG_20140811_184630This year at Playscheme I have the delight and privilege of telling the story for the children each day. Linking in to the 21st birthday theme, I’ve created a brand new story about time travel and Playscheme’s past, featuring new characters: Sarah and Doctor Woo.

For the first time this year I hope to record each day’s story and then share it online, and through Playscheme’s Facebook page. Although the onsite recording didn’t work quite so well, here’s a retelling of the first part of the story, which I hope you’ll enjoy!

 

The Shoo of Shooliness

teaspoonIt’s that time of year again and North End Playscheme is just around the corner!

Now in its 21st year, this amazing children’s activity week returns to Mayfield School field to welcome over 100 children with a range of sports, craft, fun and games. The scheme is almost entirely run by volunteers, many of whom are from local churches, as well as parents and young people who give up a week’s holiday to come and work alongside children from the local area. Some of the parents who bring their children used to come along as children themselves and its amazing how time flies when you’re having fun!

This year the story links together the 21st anniversary of Playscheme with the notion of time travel, looking back at key events, both large and small, that have shaped history. At the time perhaps those events didn’t seem all that significant and its only when we look back that we realise what an important moment it was.

As a taster, here is a specially recorded prequel for the Playscheme story this year. I hope you enjoy it! If you’re lucky enough to be able to come to Playscheme, then you’ll be able to hear the whole story but if not, I am going to try and record each episode each day as I tell it, live to the children, so maybe you’ll be able to hear what happens after all!

 

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