What are you looking at?

Tudor Griffiths
Nearly every day for the last five years I have walked down the High Street in Cheltenham. Recently challenged by a passage I read by an American geographer, Yi-Fu Tuan, I sat down and wrote out all the shops I could remember along this route. My wife Anna did the same; we compared notes and then walked the route again and marked the list. Anna had missed off all the ‘techie’ shops. I missed most of the fashion shops – got ’Next’, missed ‘Top Shop’. We both missed ‘Game’, because neither of us has the slightest interest in computer gaming.

What do we see? From our last church prayer meeting we went out in three groups in different directions out of St Matthew’s Church with the simple instruction – Pray for what you see.  We all returned having seen something afresh. In the Psalms we read (94:9) – Does he who formed the eye not see? In the creation story we read that God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Jesus saw the crowds and had compassion on them (Matthew 9:36).

You might like to think of a route that you think is familiar; write down what you remember along the route and then compare it to what you see. You too might find that you see something new in the familiar. And be prompted to pray for what you see rather than just what you think you see.

By the Revd Dr Canon Tudor Griffiths, Cheltenham Area Dean

Listening well

LucyThe Diocese of Gloucester is now into the period of conversation, where we take time to listen to one another and have our own say on the future of our Church in and around Gloucestershire.

I always think I’m good at conversation, I can pretty much speak to anyone, whatever position in an organisation, whatever age and background. Although my husband tells me what I’m good at is the talking and I could do with more of the listening!

This made me think about a recent interview Bishop Rachel did with the BBC on Eastwood Prison. Bishop Rachel was asked what was one of the biggest issues the women prisoners face. She responded that it was their lack of value and self-esteem. When questioned about how we could build up self-esteem, she said that just listening to the women could make a difference. Something as simple as just listening, to their stories, to their fears and concerns, to their hopes, could make a difference to how they felt about themselves, to make them feel valued.

What a great opportunity this period of conversation will give us, to have conversations with people which we might never normally have, to build new relationships, strengthen networks to share stories. In all of this my hope is that during this conversation period we listen well and that people know we value their opinion.

www.vision2016.org.uk

Lucy Taylor, Head of Communications, Diocese of Gloucester.

‘The prudent are restrained in speech’

Nikki ArthyHer Majesty the Queen is usually prudence personified, keeping her political and personal opinions to herself. But this week both the Queen and the Prime Minister have been caught speaking on camera. Nothing new in that; what was different was that they were filmed saying things in the context of private conversations, even though they took place at public events.  David Cameron told the Queen at a reception to celebrate her 90th birthday that Nigeria and Afghanistan were two of the most ‘fantastically corrupt’ countries in the world. At a Buckingham Palace garden party, the Queen remarked to Commander Lucy D’Orsi of the Metropolitan Police that Chinese officials were ‘very rude’ to the British Ambassador to China during President Xi Jinping’s state visit last year. Both conversations have had diplomatic ramifications but there has been little comment on whether they should have been recorded at all.

Everyone in public life knows the need for discretion and some manage that better than others. More generally, most if not all of us have said something that we wish we could take back.  The writer of the Book of Proverbs has witty wisdom to share: ‘When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but the prudent are restrained in speech.’ (Proverbs 10:19)

But the question remains: can there be any such thing as a private conversation when it takes place at a public event?

By the Revd Canon Nikki Arthy, City Canon, Gloucester Cathedral and Rector, Parish of Hempsted with St Mary de Lode and St Mary de Crypt, Gloucester.

“Leicester City – the team of teams”

Richard Atkins

So, the underdog finally won the big prize.

Leicester City, little Leicester City, are the new English Premier League Champions.  A simply amazing story!

I’ve been watching football for over fifty years. It would true to say that it’s a passion. Five decades of hoping and waiting to see if my team, Portsmouth, could win something.

In 2008, they won FA Cup; but in essence it meant very little to me. Of course it was great to see them parading the famous old trophy around Wembley. But somehow I knew that it would all end in tears. Was it because none of the team was connected with the local area? Was it the fact that they all came with a huge price tag that the club couldn’t afford? Was there that feeling that we had ‘bought’ the FA Cup with a group of players rather than with a team?

Within months the club was in freefall as the players left and the money stopped coming in. Five years later we were in the bottom division of English football and still struggling to get out.

That’s the great thing about Leicester City, the new and unexpected Champions of the Premier League. None of the players were signed by paying huge amounts of money. Indeed the whole team cost what one of the bigger teams would pay for one average player. In fact, many of them were cast-offs from other clubs.

What they are, is a team who play for, fight for and drive each other on. Of course they are hugely skilful, with a coach in Raniari, who has worked for decades at the highest level. But they are a team, where the sum of the parts is greater than the individual. In due course the best of the players may well be lured away by bigger teams in Europe. But together this bunch of players have taken on the very best and won. This may never happen again, a smaller club winning such a huge prize. But for Leicester City working together as a team meant winning together as a team.

A lesson for the Church?

By the Revd Canon Richard Atkins, Faith and Ethics Producer and Sunday Breakfast  Producer for BBC Radio Gloucestershire