31 May 2015

Time management

All that is not eternal is eternally out of date. (CS Lewis)

This folder is the culmination of about 6 months work. Most projects we do generate a folder like this (in corporate orange - hello), divided into sections such as hotels, speakers, exhibition, programme and anything else we're asked to get involved in. As a conference approaches, the Orange Folder steadily fills up with bits of paper as information becomes available and finalised documents replace draft versions of things. By the time the meeting starts it is a complete summary of the next few days of my life and I would be totally stranded without it. We have digital versions of everything - but I need a tangible thing to hold in my hands and flick through - because it's far easier and more comforting to be able to hold the information in both hands. The Orange Folder becomes the event Bible, and must be accessible all the time.

Then the conference takes place. Large volumes of people gather in one place. A flurry of activity ensues. Then everyone goes home again. And a really weird thing happens - the Orange Folder becomes redundant.

The care and attention it has previously enjoyed is withdrawn - practically overnight. It returns home to a cupboard in the office alongside other summaries of events gone by, all waiting patiently for a day when they might be selected from the shelf and referred to once more. The Orange Folder, fresh from duty is likely confused at this sudden abandonment: Why is no one picking me up to arrange and re-arrange my contents? What happened to all the flicking through me 10 times a day to access my secrets?! Are you honestly telling me NO ONE needs to know which symposia will be held in which room, when the sponsors can run through their slides or who is still to submit a travel claim? What about how many Gala dinner meals need to be vegetarian, pescatarian, halal or under no circumstances contain peanuts?? No, no no - don't shut the cupboard door...!

But of course, no one cares now. After the dinner's over, no one needs to know what the final numbers were (which, incidentally, 10% of people won't show up for and at least one person will spontaneously develop / abandon a vegetarian lifestyle because they've just seen the alternative at another table...).

Isn't that weird? How can something go from being indispensable to recyclable in a matter of days? Time is such a fickle thing.

Or is it MORE weird that I even think about this stuff - because the alternative would involve a realm of no past or future - only the all consuming now. A fluid existence not framed by the passing of days and weeks and years, but something beyond the boundaries of experience or vocabulary or imagination. A place where the Orange Folder is always important or isn't needed at all...

What if we lived in immortality, like the wormhole prophets in DS9? Having never experienced linear existence, they need the alien concept of 'time' explained to them - and even then consider the whole thing to be unstable, unpredictable and quite frankly rather bizarre ('You mean you value your ignorance of what is to come???').

I'm with the Wormhole Prophets.
And CS Lewis.
(Who, to be fair, was plagiarising St Peter)
But until then I'm working on the contents of the next Orange Folder.

But don’t forget this one thing, dear friends: To the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. (2 Peter 3:8)

Life begins (Part 2)

1: Waxing gives higher levels of smoothness than any razor could ever hope to achieve, regardless of whatever revolutionary triple-bladed technology involved.

2: After successfully waxing ones legs ONCE you may foolishly assume you are experienced enough to tackle other 'sensitive' areas.

3: This is a lie.

4: It is possible to be in so much pain that little white lights swirl before your eyes and you forget to breathe.

5: Screaming loudly in a communal shower block scares small children. Soundlessly mouthing obscenities and pacing in circles is recommended instead.

6: Body hair may be ripped out in smaller sections than the size of available waxing paper. Just CUT the waxing paper into smaller strips before you begin.

7: If all fingertips and both thumbs become covered in wax and pubes, abandon procedure and call for reinforcements.

8: A good friend will not mock you for poor hair removal decisions. She will help you tidy up and provide wine.

5 May 2015

Standing up for poultry

Near the end of church on Sunday Loz had several words / pictures for people. I only remember one of them:
• A cartoon chicken with poppy eyes.
• Maybe you feel a bit ridiculous?
• Sunshine.
• God says 'Be pleased with how I have made you'.

I hear this and type it into my phone as Loz says it, thinking Haha- Oh God, this is me! I can see a picture of the chicken immediately. It looks like this:

I know some of the things I say and think are a bit mental - but I like that I see life this way. I don't want to change it. And you know what? If I am ridiculous or if other people think I am then I don't actually care. I'm pleased with how you've made me. I like being a chicken, God - Thank you xx

I'm caught up in this and kind of laughing about it in my head when I realise Loz is asking people to stand up if one of the prophecies resonated with them and I'm like, Uh oh - Stand up?!? Even if I don't mind being ridiculous? Even if I embrace my chickenness? Do I still get up even then? Argh.... I should have been paying attention better. Poultry have shocking attention spans. We really do. We're like goldfish. I don't even know what to say to whoever comes over. I've kind of got used to praying for other people recently and wasn't planning on getting prayer myself today so what do I tell them exactly? Clearly it would make sense to mention the chicken thing. But I'll also feel compelled to tell them I don't mind being ridiculous. If they think that - maybe they don't. I can't presume anyone thinks ANYTHING cause who knows what someone else really thinks inside the privacy of their own head? And I'm really happy with who God's made me to be thankyouverymuch so don't worry about that bit and - oh crap - that could be really insensitive, couldn't it? What if whoever comes over is struggling with who they are inside their own skin and I'm all like 'Well I'm completely happy with who I was made to be thanks' - what affect would that have? Unless of course it's someone I don't know that well. Then they wouldn't expect me to know. Or maybe someone I DO know well but just not about their struggles with some stuff and... that's more likely actually. Because a lot of stuff passes me by completely. It's not that I don't care - I'm just not that observant. Or imaginative about what other people might be feeling / thinking / meaning when they say something. I have enough to think about keeping my own brain in order without trespassing over someone else's mind. I just don't want to be accidentally arrogant. 

Or is it MORE arrogant to sit on my backside and not stand up because God's talking to me because actually that's what this is probably about right now and I always need prayer so if it's directly offered I don't say no because that's a reeeeaaaallly stupid thing to do... 

By this time I'm concluding, OK, It's definitely more arrogant to sit if God's nudging you to stand because God matters more than other people, right? So standing up IS more appropriate right now, OK that's fine, that's fine, of course that's FINE... but the runaway monologue in my brain has taken some time and so I'm ALSO thinking, But I'm an all or nothing chicken! I don't do mediocrity. I should have been on my feet immediately and I can't stand up NOW having faffed around and argued about it first. What kind of chicken would do that? A chicken chicken - that's who!!

Then I can hear God smirking at me and I get all indignant and say What's so funny?!? and he's like 'If you're sooooo comfortable and don't care what people think then why you still sat on your bum exactly - now that you've decided not to be?' And I'm laughing too because I'm completely overthinking the whole thing and now trying to kid on that standing up in front of a room full of people when no one else is responding is not scaring the pants off me. But hey ho, You win! I love you and you're right - I'm doing it, I'm standing now just watch me get UP.... when Loz asks us all to stand and the moment is gone.

And then we get into little groups and pray for each other anyway. And we sing. And church ends. And I drink coffee and chat to people. And forget ALL about the chicken thing. I drink more coffee and speak to more people. And Keith's locking up so I'm not rushing off anywhere. And then I'm passing a little group of people and Loz kind of locks eyes with me and he's like 'Hey Jen- You ok?' and in an instant it all floods back to me and I'm like, 'Yeah really good- And the chicken thing was me!'

And he knew it was.
And I told him I don't care if I'm ridiculous.
And he reminded me of the sunshine thing.
Because that was really important too.
This is why I love my church.

James 5:15-16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other

I am a slow learner. Sorry Loz. You heard correctly. There was a chicken in the room. I hope you weren't discouraged today Xxx