Wednesday, 11 October 2017

For a change this isn't my blog, but what my daughter, Beth, wrote on a day off sick from teaching her Year 4s... it's brilliant,even if I am her dad...

For a change this isn't my blog, but what my daughter, Beth, wrote on a day off sick from teaching her Year 4s... it's brilliant,even if I am her dad...

Every Monday afternoon in Oak Class we have a French lesson. I put on my best Gallic shrug, whip out the old GCSE French, say "bonjour la class" and "asseyez vous!" and we have a whole half hour of learning how we got to school ("Je vais en voiture" - literally ALL the lazy toads, they only live three doors away), learning to say "please" and "thank you" (I thought it would be funny to teach them "mange tout, mange tout, Rodney", and IT IS) and singing along to a grainy you tube video of "Jean Petit qui Danse".
They LOVE it.
And here's the thing.
There are more than 10 languages spoken in my class, and at least 55% of the children I teach speak two (and in one case THREE) languages fluently.
Not only that, but 4 of my children began their education in different countries. You would never know this, because they have all honed their Bedford accents after a few terms. The only exception is the little girl from Shanghai who I very occasionally catch looking around at the chaos of my classroom with an expression that says "what has my life become?"
But these kids, who can speak (and in most cases read and write) in exactly 100% more languages than me, look at me like I'm some kind of bi-ligual demi-god.
"Mrs. C can SPEAK FRENCH!" I heard one of them say in awe-struck tones.
No children, I really can't.
It's called google translate, a crib sheet and doing it all with a flourish - in other words, fake it till you make it.
My class knocks me out.
They are learning in one language in school and at home speaking Romanian, Albanian, Serbian, Mandarin, Malayalam, Urdu, Gujurati, Polish, Grenadian, Italian, and I'm sure I've forgotten some more. And yet they don't think anything of it. It's just how the world works, we use one language to speak to dad and grandma, and another in school.
Some people would rather that those children in my class who speak more than one language weren't here any more. They would be happier if the Mandarin speaker was back in Shanghai, keeping her staggeringly mathematical brain in China where it belongs. They would like it if the children who speak Malayalam took their NHS- doctor father back to his own country. They would like it if the young man who speaks Polish at home, and who is the kind of model student that I wish I had thirty of, took his incredible ability to learn, his kind heart and his willingness to help others back to Poland rather than being a role model to the other children in the class.
The other day the little girl who was born in Romania, started school in Italy and now reads and writes in English better than a few adults I know, came up to me in tears.
"K says I don't belong here! She says when the Brexit is here they are sending me back!"
I didn't know what to say. So I hugged her and told her that if anyone tried sending her anywhere they would have me to deal with. Miss K, who has a surname as Irish as Guiness "was only saying what my dad says". I didn't mention the irony that her family, with a name like that, was probably not originally from Bedford either...
This incident has really been playing on my mind.
The truth is, Miss K is Miss A's friend and actually she would be very sad if she was "sent back". It turns out it was said in the heat of the moment over a disagreement on whether or not either of them would get through the first round of Britain's Got Talent.
It struck me as ironic that, if we do see things through to their natural conclusion, and send anyone who isn't originally from here "back" there will be very little point in a show named "Britain's Got Talent". We will have to name it "Britain Has Talent But You Can Only Enter If You Have Parents with a Nice English Sounding Surname and if Your Family Can Be Traced Back Three Generations, Otherwise It Doesn't Matter If You've Got Talent, it is Foreign and We Don't Want It."
But that might not catch on.
P.S. Big up to Master M, who, when I asked for hands up who spoke a different language at home, told me very solemnly that his family are learning to speak American, because his uncle moved to Florida.
I'm serious. I love the Americans but, really. You know.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Priest to the Temple

The Church is a living temple to the glory of God
It is first and foremost something that looks like family
but never a family business.

It is not a process but a procession
blown by the breath of the proceeding Spirit of God

It is a procession of self emptying
or it is full only of itself

It is a procession meeting around the Holy Table
or it is consuming itself

It is procession where each and every person can be what they were made
or it is the fabricator of clones

The self Church wants success and gets it
The consumer Church wants numbers and get them
The clone Church makes people like itself in but hurts many on the way
and never notices

The Temple Church is a space in which people come and go
a place of welcome and unconditional acceptance
where 'numbers' is simply a book in the Pentateuch

and love bumbles as only love can
in the healing space of shared time

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

October 2017

October promoted by the sleight of time's hand
the key now minor as autumn falls around us
in the folding leaves
filing away the story of the year

Spring and autumn so easily confused
in the balance of equinox
storms hot and cold in sun and and wind
so much the same

So too are the springs and autumns of the Church's rhythm in history
This is the autumn of the Church
that some desperately want to call spring

Calling out the warms and chills as signs of a Lent
when in truth we watch
the end

A Church which cannot celebrate endings has no gospel worthy of the name

Death and resurrection stubbornly in that order
are the bread and wine of our stock in trade

Christ drinks the new vintage
only after the harvest
the cropping
the pressing
fermenting of death

The people of God
the Body of Christ
must learn to rejoice in endings
so that the New
can rise up

Autumn is calling and winter responds

And we must fall with the leaves and find the goodness of God
in the very dark of days
in the damp chill of our hibernation

The long wait that is the gestation of the Spirit

There will be spring

But not yet