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My Manchester


Today marks a very sad and poignant anniversary in my Manchester’s history. It was exactly 12 months ago today that a terrorist bomb was detonated in the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert given by Ariana Grande. In its aftermath, there was a tremendous outpouring of love and support, of music and poetry, of community coming together and a defiance that this horrific act would not stop Manchester and Mancunians being what we are and who we are. There was a determination that the very fabric of Manchester would be strengthened by this, not destroyed by it, and it would go down in Manchester’s history as just another thing that has happened to us.

You’ll notice I refer to my Manchester, and to us. That’s deliberate, because I am a proud Mancunian and I am so glad I was born in this wonderful place. This city runs in my DNA as much as my blood does, as it does with the million of other folk who get to call this city “home”.

I got to thinking about what being a Manc means, and how the demonstration of our spirit in these last 12 months can be an example to the rest of the world. Yes, we might seem to be territorial about our city, but it is a territory without boundaries and borders – anyone can call themselves a Mancunian so long as they play by the rules.

And the rules are simple:

  1. Keep strong – in the face of adversity (and that includes the weather). You may be battered about, but Mancunians stay strong. Together.
  2. Keep calm – get the job done, then go away and weep about it. You’ll find no hand-wringing here.
  3. Keep it together – look after your mate, your brother, the stranger in front of you or next door to you.
  4. Keep loving – don’t let hatred in, don’t let hatred win. Give love until it feels like you are going to empty yourself, then keep giving. It wells up from a deeper place and will only ever get bigger and stronger. Don’t look back in anger. Ever.
  5. Keep singing – it’s what we do best. From the textile mills to the coal mines, on the canals, in the workshops, on the football terraces, in schools, in places of worship, on street corners, in clubs and bars, singing is what we do. It draws us together and anyone can do it. Let that song live within you.

If you can live by those 5 rules, you can come in and be counted as a Manc. Blue or red, doesn’t matter. Christian, Muslim or Jew, doesn’t matter which. Man, woman, child, adult, doesn’t matter. However you see yourself so long as you can do those 5 things you can be one of us and you will join the biggest set of mates you will ever know.

We might not get on from time to time and we know we have our problems – which city doesn’t? – but the thread that holds this city together has been woven over centuries and the people here all play by the rules. Most of the time.

So what can we teach the rest of the world? Manchester’s symbol is the bee. It symbolises our industrial past – the worker bees supplying the world with our produce and goods – and it has become a true icon of our great city particularly in these last 12 months. What the bee can teach the rest of the world is that true sweetness can only come from a lot of people all working together, not against each other, and Manchester’s lesson to the rest of the world is just that: let’s work together to make the world a sweeter place.

Now, make us a brew while you’re up, yeah?

#onelove #dontlookbackinanger #loveistheway #lovewins #allyouneedislove

 

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Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Live”


These little crocus flowers represent so much. The desire to live despite the cold weather conditions and layers of snow as they were just poking their heads up represents the desire to live that I have seen in two old friends today. They are both fighting to keep living their lives despite enormous challenges and events stacked against them.

RT and EC, keep fighting.

Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Love”


There are so many ways to express what love is, aren’t there? For me, love is not just something that we say or that we show in gestures and is something much deeper than that.

Today’s photograph shows some daffodils made by some of the children at my church’s Monday morning toddler group last week. Daffodils are my favourite flower anyway, but these little beauties just made my heart melt because they were made with love by little hands of children who I love dearly.

 

What I love about these little flowers is their cheerful yellow colour and the fact that their little trumpets are looking towards the sun. I learned from one of our mums that in Poland, daffodils are called “sun-heads” which is a beautiful way to describe them.

The thing that I love most of all about daffodils is that they are a signal that Spring is definitely here, a season of renewal and rebirth, a time of clean air and fresh breezes, of seeds and bulbs pushing their way out of the sleepy earth and of buds growing and bursting forth with new life.

There is only a short window where daffodils are out, and I love them all the more for that. It reminds me to make the most of today, and to enjoy the beauty in God’s creation right now. My children and my husband know that if they want to show me they love me in flowers, I appreciate a bunch of daffodils more than any extravagant bouquet of flowers. I think I would love it even more if they were to make me one of these paper ones!

 

Thought For Today

Love the Light


love the light

 

“I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars” Augustine “Og” Madnino

 

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Manchester 


In the wake of the atrocious attack in Manchester last night, I feel have to say something. But like so many people today there are simply not enough words to express just how sad,  shocked, upset, fearful, determined, defiant and united we feel as a city.

Mancunians are renowned for our understated attitude to getting on with things and coming together as a community to stand in the face of adversity. This isn’t the first time Manchester has experienced violence like this and I don’t suppose it will be the last. While that saddens and angers me, I am reassured by the resilience of my fellow Mancs in that we will carry on.

For those who are pointing the finger and trying to divide us, my message is that we are all children of the same God and we would do well to remember that. Darkness will never overcome darkness, only light can do that. Hatred can never overcome hatred, only love can do that.

For the people of Manchester my message is, stay strong our kid.

Lent Challenge 2017

Love


Lent Challenge – Love

loveWhat is love? Why do we love? How do we love? How do we know we are loved? Why do we withhold love?

Love is the emotion that makes us human, and to be human is to love. Whether it is the romantic love another person, or love of a situation or an object or concept, we all experience love. We often talk about love and it is a word that drops into everyday conversation and it is obvious that love is a constant thread that runs throughout our lives.

But what is it? How do we define this emotion that drives us, motivates us, energises us and even sometimes paralyses us?

We can describe the feelings we get when we fall in love with someone – that giddy feeling we get when we think about them, that stomach clenching joy when they look at us, that constant distraction at the forefront of our minds when we imagine them going about their day, the counting down of the hours and minutes until we know we are going to see them again – but does all that accurately describe the true depths of the soul binding love we have say for our children? The intense desire to protect them from all the hurts and pain of the world, the deep-seated need to see them succeed, the celebration of all their achievements no matter how small and so on.

Paul wrote about what love is when he wrote his letter to the people of Corinth (click here for the full text) and if all these go a little way to describe the feelings of love, how do we go about showing it? I love my husband – of course I do – but sometimes, there are things he does that make me not like him very much. I’m sure the same is true in reverse and there will be things that I do that he doesn’t like me for even though he loves me. But how do we show it to each other? For many couples, love is shown is thousands of small ways as well as in big sweeping gestures. Take this weekend for example. My husband fully understood my desire to play with the band at a competition in Blackpool and he very unselfishly stood aside to allow me the time and space to go to rehearsals in the run up, and he willingly accepted that the time we would normally have spent together over the weekend was not to be this time. Not only did he put my needs first, but he wanted me to succeed and was proud of me for what I achieved too. But there’s more to it than that because he didn’t make me feel like I had to make it up to him, or that I somehow owed him for the time apart. I am not indebted to him for having some time to do something I wanted to do, and he would never make me feel that I am.

So what about love in the wider sense? What about love for our fellow human being? How does that work out?

Sadly, all too often, we fail to show that we love each other. We look for ways to score points against other people, or ways to cause division between them. There seems to be a constant desire to be in the right, and anyone not with us must therefore be against us. On any issue, there are lines drawn between people and love seems to take a backseat.

I find that troubling. If we take the premise that love is the most basic of human emotions and that every single human being on this planet is built to love and be loved, how can we go about our daily lives with our partners and families demonstrating love in myriad and wonderful small ways yet not show it to others on a bigger scale? If we can be generous to one special person, why do we find it so difficult to be generous to other people generally? I don’t mean generous in terms of giving money (to charity, to a homeless person on the street for example) but generous in terms of acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness, understanding and so on? How can we celebrate love between some couples yet not others? How can we recognise long-term commitment and promises of lifelong love between some partnerships yet not others? How can we allow some people time to heal after a trauma (rape victims, abuse victims and so on) and look after “our own”, yet not allow other people room in our country after fleeing from war, famine, cruelty and violence?

Love shouldn’t come with a list of conditions, and it shouldn’t be withheld from people just because they are not “ours”, or because they don’t fit in with what we see as deserving of it.

When this world has passed, and when all the material goods in our lives have lost their meaning, when all we have held dear has been lost, what remains is love. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we could turn it round and put love for others first and foremost?

Love before judgement

Love before division

Love before fear

Love before indifference

Love before ignorance

Love before disrespect

Love before ego

I’m sure you could add a list of your own “love before….” words, and I am interested to hear your thoughts. Please leave me a comment below.

love-all-people

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Accepting Love