Posted by: Postordinandy | June 26, 2018

On being a Utility Player

In sport, a utility player is one who can play several positions competently, a sort of jack of all trades. Sports in which the term is often used include football, baseball, rugby union, rugby league, water polo, softball and track.

 crWe notice those who rise to the top – but often miss those who are playing a decent game in the relative shadows.

We admire the superstars – but easily forget those whose presence enables the stars to shine.

 

The teams and individuals who play in events like the World Cup are there as a result of a heady mix of years of hard work, patient honing natural gifts and talents, happy coincidences of being in the right place at the right time and noticed by the right people, playing the best game of their lives as the scout was watching, listening to advice, getting away with things they shouldn’t have sometimes…

Most of us who play football do so as a hobby, as an ever-increasing necessity to get/keep fit, as a chance to unwind and catch up with friends.

We notice the superstars.

Every scratch game, every amateur Sunday League team, every scruffy game of 5-a-side has one or two players who stand out from the crowd. They are faster, their ball-control skills more reliable, their tricks come off, their shots almost always end up with a goal scored.

walthamstow avenueBut they can’t play without the rest of us – even those who make it to the top.

One player does not make a team – a game needs a minimum number of players on the pitch to be viable.

Then there are the ‘utility players’ – a, perhaps, dying breed of player who may not excel especially at any one role, but who can ‘make do’ if needed, and are an asset to any manager.

Then there are the subs – who may sit on the bench every week without kicking a ball in anger – but who need to show up in case an injury or tactical change requires them to swing into action.

And the squad players – who may look at the subs in envy, as every week their name doesn’t make it to the team sheet – but who train and practice with those who play every week.

And there is the back-room staff – the coaches, physios, psychologists and nutritionists, medical staff and chaplains, catering team, groundsmen and laundry staff.

For those of us with a faith, pursuing our God has parallels here. In any area of ministry and work, there are those who rise to the ‘top’ – through a mixture of talent, timing and ‘x’.

And there are those of us who don’t.

crowd

 

But we are all called to be part of the great crowd encouraging others pursue their own calling. The superstars need to turn up to support, encourage and train the ones who can barely tie their laces together, let alone kick a ball.

 

 

I’ve spent my career as – I think – a combination of sometimes-useful utility player and rarely-called-up squad player. I’ve had my moments, perhaps even spent some game time on the pitch, but most of the time I’ve watched from the side-lines – hoping I can support if needed.

Wrestling with a ‘calling’ has made this trickier at some occasions than at others – it feels like it’s harder to discern what God may be wanting one to do if one can’t seem to make it into the starting 11… These days, I rarely make the team sheet, and even getting recognised as a member of the squad is proving harder.

Some of this is simply the result of years working under the assumption that God *must* be calling me to play in the starting 11 – all-too-often confusingly mixed with an aversion to be in the limelight.

footie boots

But I am – all too slowly still – finally recognising that most of God’s favourite people (i.e. all of us!) are unlikely to see action on the pitch. Actually… make that pitches – as there are soooo many different games being played, and most of us will only recognise the game has been played after the event.

I’d like to be a superstar.

I’d hate to be a superstar.

I just hope I’m still in the right game.

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Posted by: Postordinandy | December 5, 2017

Enough for everyone

A new survey by Christian Aid reveals that the average British household overspends on food at Christmas by around £83.72.

That’s a whopping £1,109,290,000 collectively, on food that goes in the bin! (See here for the source of the statistics). This includes:

  • 70 million mince pies
  • 17 million Brussels Sprouts
  • 12 million carrots
  • 11 million roast potatoes
  • 10 million parsnips
  • 9 million boats of gravy
  • 4 million Christmas puddings
  • 2 million turkeys

Christian Aid have created a lighthearted film, Oh What A Waste, based on the 12 Days of Christmas to illustrate the point.


So, I am challenging myself (and you) to not buy something this year (or at least be more realistic about amount we buy) and donating some of the money I save to Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal.
Additionally, for every pound the public give to the appeal to support people living in poverty, the UK Government will also give a pound. That’s double the support for
families struggling to feed themselves in South Sudan, meaning even more mothers and infants under-five in South Sudan will be saved from the life-threatening effects of malnutrition.

Care to join me? If so, please pop over to my Just Giving page and make a donation – thanks in advance!

 

Posted by: Postordinandy | November 9, 2017

140:280

Twitter doubled the acceptable word enumeration.
I desired to create a composition of exactly one hundred and forty words,
Using exactly two hundred and eighty syllables.

Naturally, I am only able to advertise the completed representation elsewhere.

It was reasonably problematical to accomplish.
To capture something of meaning,
limited by scope,
trapped in a one to two proportion.

But here it is,
That poem.

It was essential I remembered to include sufficient words of two or more syllables,
As much mathematical challenge as literative
Words buffeted in pandemonium in desperate aspiration of election.
Particular smaller words survived the ultimate edit, appreciated.
While others were cruelly discarded
in favour of more fulsome and abundantly syllabolic relations.

As the poem neared a crescendo,
it became essential to contrast crucial expressions,
opting for elongated synonyms,
above diminutive choices
– occasional nonsensical words crept in.

(word and syllable count checked via https://www.howmanysyllables.com/syllable_counter/)

Posted by: Postordinandy | November 2, 2017

Fake News

tunnel copy

Fake News
You choose
What you want to hear.

Fake Booze
You lose
with cheap imported beer.

Fake Shoes
Toes bruise
you shed a hobbled tear.

Fake Blues
Long Queues
No real agony here.

Fake Loos
Missed cues
Now an unfortunate sightseer.

Fake Muse
Poor views
Counterfeit Shakespeare.

Fake Excuse
Can’t defuse
This shame-faced puppeteer.

Fake Breakthroughs
Failed ruse
Time to disappear.

Posted by: Postordinandy | September 21, 2017

Freedom

[I wrote this about the story of the Woman caught in the act of adultery – I am always struck by the absence of her partner-in-crime, and by Jesus’ treatment of both her and the crowd who would condemn her]

 .

Dragged from a lover’s embrace I was

and into the bitter fury of the mob –

they who hoped my sin would mask their own,

their eyes full of jealous zeal,

with hearts broken like my own, if only they would admit so.

 .

My nakedness shamed me more

than the stones of shouted accusation thrown –

my skin still warm from his greedy touch,

my lips still tasting his kiss,

yet do I catch glimpse of his form in the crowd now?

 .

Propelled through walls of angry flesh

until I collapsed at His feet –

too tired now, too disorientated

to fully realise where, or whom I now was,

Straining with the crowd to hear His thoughts proclaimed.

 .

The Law declared, justice demanded,

yet he stoops to the ground, and –

our eyes locked on each other,

he sketches awhile in the sand,

and then calmly asks them to begin.

 .

But a caveat offered, a challenge laid,

“he without sin” invited to take pride of place –

the men, some ashamed, some confused,

wrestle with their inner demons,

until I am left, still crumpled into myself, alone.

 .

Forgiven, and given, and given…

I understand now, the depth of this act –

A cloak is found for my now shivering form,

water for my lips, shoes for my feet,

and I will try to sin no more.

Posted by: Postordinandy | January 5, 2017

20one17: defiant hope

(originally posted on my other site: 10eleven12)

 

2016, for many, has been a dark year.

From the ever-expanding list of artists, musicians, actors and others who created beautiful things who have left us, to the seismic turmoil of Brexit and Trump, via the ongoing and multiple humanitarian crises and acts of war and terror that scatter the globe.

One of my friends asked people to share good things that have happened in 2016, which was a great start, but I wanted an opportunity for people to share their defiant hope as they go forward into 2017. Who or what gives you hope, for yourself, your family, the planet, the future – because of, or despite the ongoing socio-political turmoil we see every day around us.

20one17‘ will be the 5th in a series of date-specific projects where contributions are gathered via social media and email.

Contributions are due by 5pm (GMT) on Friday 20th of January 2017 – the time Donald Trump is due to take the Oath of Allegiance and become the 45th President of the USA*.

If you have not taken part in a previous version, or just want a reminder, the other projects can be found here:

onefour15

11twelve13

12twelve12

10eleven12(pics) 10eleven12(words, etc)

11eleven11

The concept is hopefully simple to both understand and engage with: on the specific day in question, do something creative and contribute it! Entry is free, and you are welcome to submit more than one item if you wish.

Don’t believe you are not creative – as you will see from past projects, contributions range from carefully constructed poems, composed music, and pictures taken from a mobile phone. The beauty is in the contribution, and how each individual item submitted interrelates with the others.

There are same basic rules:

  • Take a photo, paint a picture, write a poem or short story… do something
  • Items must be completed on the day (Weds 1st April 2015,local time)
  • Items must be emailed or posted onto one of the relevant sites within a week to be included (so by midnight of Weds 8th April 2015 UK time)
  • More than one item can be submitted by any individual.
  • There is an additional, optional ‘theme’: Defiant hope
    • Items submitted need not be linked to this,
    • There is no extra kudos for any that do.
    • Any link that does appear can be as tenuous as you dare…

There is also a FAQ page here

Watch this space, and get ready to play your part!

 

(* 20one17 is not making a political point about President-elect Trump, but we have chosen this time as it represents a moment in modern history that many will fear, and others will have great hope in

Posted by: Postordinandy | December 10, 2016

#LightTheWay

2016, for many, has been a dark year. From the ever-expanding list of artists, musicians, actors and others who created beautiful things who have left us, to the seismic turmoil of Brexit and Trump, via the ongoing and multiple humanitarian crises and acts of war and terror that scatter the globe.

It. Has. Been. Tough.

This year, Christian Aid are looking to harness the power of Social Media for good, and aim to spread a little love, hope and light to cast out some of the shadows at least.

The premise is simple enough: share a picture of Christmas lights on social media, including #LightTheWay and ideally tagging Christian Aid in your posts on Facebook and Twitter

Here’s my picture (which I will re-share at the weekend if I remember), taken by Claire Cartwright as part of 12twelve12 project I curated back in 2012(!)

lights - claire c.png

Posted by: Postordinandy | December 8, 2016

#LightTheWay – 9th to 11th Dec

2016, for many, has been a dark year. From the ever-expanding list of artists, musicians, actors and others who created beautiful things who have left us, to the seismic turmoil of Brexit and Trump, via the ongoing and multiple humanitarian crises and acts of war and terror that scatter the globe.

It. Has. Been. Tough.

This year, Christian Aid are looking to harness the power of Social Media for good, and aim to spread a little love, hope and light to cast out some of the shadows at least.

The premise is simple enough: share a picture of Christmas lights on social media, including #LightTheWay and ideally tagging in Christian Aid your posts on Facebook and Twitter

A day ahead, here’s my picture (which I will re-share at the weekend if I remember), taken by Claire Cartwright as part of 12twelve12 project I curated back in 2012(!)

lights - claire c.png

Posted by: Postordinandy | November 7, 2016

A poem for the world, at the dawn of the US election

I am Them, and they are us.

Driven into retreat by fear and distrust,

I scamper towards the nearest thing to light I see,

Not pausing to reflect on the source,

Nor causing to see my own bias.

.

I am Them, and they are us.

Trying to see the best in the other,

Failing to see the worst in myself,

I filter through alternate views,

And conclude that only I know best.

.

I am Them, and they are us.

Post-Brexit triumphant Leaver, wounded Remainer,

Post-Trump, Pre-Clinton,

War-Zoned out and switched off to the pain of others,

Anesthetising my own with caricature and causality.

.

I am Them, and they are us.

Created together, by God or by chance,

Infinitely more in common with my chosen enemy,

Than we have arbitrarily opted to define as different.

I am Them, and they are us.

(image source)
Posted by: Postordinandy | October 10, 2016

2 poems for #worldmentalhealthday

Today I silently screamed around the supermarket

.

I silently screamed around the supermarket:

Wrestling with doubt as I tried to decide which brand of beans to purchase,

The dread tsunami of terror ever rising in my chest.

Not butterflies these – but great armoured beasts –

Trampling with ugly booted hatred on the fragile confidence I fake,

Until the shell of me wandered on automatic pilot into the frozen food aisle,

Picking up Petits Pois even as scattered chunks of my soul remained in “Canned Vegetables and Pasta“.

And then the tiredness – the brain-deadness, body-wastedness, emotionally-drainedness of it all,

The voices, rabid in their persistence,

you are a life-sucker, a burden to those you love, a freak to everyone else“.

And so I wear my peace as a shattered mask,

Hoping that the mantra of “I’m fine” will metamorphose into something solid and true.

And sometimes it does.

And sometimes it won’t.

And sometimes it remains caught between reality and falsehood,

And my tired mental bones rise once more from the bed,

And a bark back at the Dog until he cowers behind the sofa,

Or I throw him a big enough stick that he loses interest in my psyche:

For an hour, a day, a week or more.

Perhaps never to return, perhaps silently present.

And I stumble into the self-service lane,

Swipe my goods, present my card,

And wander back into the world, both dead and alive.

All of me present, and

Most of me well.

.

They Walk Among You

They walk among you:

Silently wrestling inner demons as they order their cappuccino,

Buffeted by internal tsunami of anxiety, exhaustion or nausea,

Scarred by their own hand, scared of their own mind,

Nervously keeping an eye on those keeping an eye on them,

Sleeping too much,

Resigned to the idea of sleep being an unreachable utopia,

Unable to look into an undistorted mirror,

Tormented by inner demons who whisper about their worthlessness.

 .

They walk among you:

With the aid of medicinal cast and crutch,

With strength unmeasurable,

With shame and resignation,

With pride and resolve.

Determined to keep the Black Dog on a leash,

To continue to love others even when they struggle to love self,

To take the next step, and the next,

No matter how hard the effort and minuscule the gain.

 .

We walk among you:

Nine out of ten prisoners,

One in five under 15 year olds,

Two in five of those in retirement accommodation,

More women than men, mostly.

 .

You walk among them:

Those who appear untouched by mental fragility,

Who may be wearing a multitude of masks,

Hiding their own doubt, struggle and fears.

 .

We walk amongst ourselves:

We remain ‘other’,

Only if we determine to clothe ourselves in denial,

And fail to extend the hands of friendship, trust and love.

.

Links and that:

For more info on the day, and the issues around it, please see here

As ever, I recommend the two videos below as fantastic initial resources for you if you a) suffer from depression and/or b) love or care for someone who does – [It’s well worth getting the books the videos are based on too!]

I’d also like to add Matt Haig‘s excellent “Reasons To Stay Alive

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