Overheard at the swimming pool

From their voices, they were eight or nine years old, but I didn’t see them.

Speaker A: I’m not wearing my school socks, look. I hate my school socks.

Speaker B: So do I! They’re so annoying.

A: I’m putting all my clothes in my bag.

B: I’m not. My bag is SO small.

A: So you and Tanya are like related?

B: Yeah.

A: Because you are the same religion?

B: Yeah.

A: I don’t really know about religion because I don’t have one…People who have a religion have to respect people who don’t have one.

B: And people who don’t have one, have to respect those who do.

A: Yeah. It’s the same for everyone.

PS I’m in Scotland, lying low for just now, but this was too good not to share.

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Great questions

It’s always very interesting to hear people’s questions in response to the talks I do in churches.

Sometimes I incorporate the answers into later versions of my talk. One example is “How do churches manage to get children to come along to the Vive Kids Children’s Clubs?” I say that in most cases there are scores, if not hundreds of children in the local community and most seem thrilled to come along to an event being run especially for them. The little joke I make is that you just need to shake a tree and 10 children will fall out of it. (Of course we don’t really do this!).

But last week I was asked two excellent questions by the same person that left me thinking. There questions were:

1.What has been the impact of the conflict on the church in Colombia?

2.What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Colombian church?

I thought these were very useful questions for any context.

For example we could ask: What has been the impact of the recession (or the refugee crisis) on the Scottish church? What are the strengths and weakness of your local church? Or your denomination?

I don’t feel I had very coherent answers to the questions but the questions themselves were great!

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Global village

Recently I got the opportunity to speak to a group of children aged around ten about the life of a displaced child in Colombia.

I explained how armed groups force people off their land and talked about the poor conditions displaced people often live in.

After my talk, one ten-year-old boy came up to me and asked if the members of the armed group had been radicalized.

I explained, “No, they don’t have any particular ideology, they are probably motivated by greed as much as anything else.”

Afterwards I thought:

1) How good to see a child trying to make sense of the world in terms of the categories (e.g. radicalization) that he knows.

2) How sad that a ten-year-old growing up a peaceful country has to engage with such things.

But then, when I was ten, I worried about nuclear war.

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In winter, Scotland’s cities and towns can be a bit grey but the countryside is spectacular.

The hillsides are covered with coppery brown bracken.

The pasture lands are lime green, the lochs slate-black.

An icing-sugar dusting of snow on the hills.

The palest of greeny-blue lichen shavings on the birch trees.

Sometimes, I just had to put on the brakes and say, Wow.

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Hello world!

I’ve been back in the UK for a few weeks now.

Until the very cold snap, I had hardly seen the sun. I noticed that every patch of duck-egg-blue sky was an event.

And a crisp, cold, bright day is life-giving.

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North and South

Colombians are often fascinated by tales of Scotland’s cold weather and what it is like to live in a country that has seasons.

On Sunday I was explaining to a friend in church what it was like to have very little daylight in winter and almost no darkness in the summer.

Well, it’s very different here, he responded. Night and day are almost exactly the same. We don’t have social equality here but at least we have…he groped for the right expression…

Solar equality? I suggested, and we agreed that was a good way of describing it.

I don’t miss Scotland’s winter solar inequality but sometimes I crave those magical light summer nights in the north of Scotland when it hardly gets dark at all.

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Another random observation

In Scotland, there does not seem to be an accepted correct cheek for a kiss of greeting.

Just as often than not, it’s the left one, not the right, like I am used to in Colombia, causing many of those embarrassing head dances as you try and agree on the cheek to go for, and just hope you don’t meet inappropriately in the middle.

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