Hunting for more than eggs or waves…

Every time I pick up the keys for Davina, I feel less like the owner of a camper-van and more like the custodian of a legacy.  VW campers have names and stories and history.  Davina is no different in that respect, having been found, cleaned up, lovingly restored and brought back to life by her previous owners the Scottish Bible Society in order to operate as a mobile sacred space.

So, with Easter Sunday approaching it felt fitting in recent days to throw out some invitations to herald in Easter with the van.

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We parked her up overlooking the Firth of Forth on a beautiful sunny morning with mist still evaporating from the water’s surface.  Whilst it is easy to feel over-familiar with the Easter story, I read a headline in a newspaper this week which suggested that almost half of school children don’t know the true meaning of why Easter features on our calendars and that a third think it is to do with a bunny’s birthday.  I found the research commented upon here.

Against that backdrop, we read the story in a language more easily understandable.

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Alternatively, you can read it in everyday language here.

Having delayed breakfast until this moment, I sat overlooking the water from the vantage-point of the camper with a sense of hunger.  We shared out a feast of hot cross buns, brioche loaf, pain au chocolates, fruit and granola accompanied by flasks of teas, coffees and fruit juice.

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Then we decorated eggs and embraced the joy and fun of feeling childlike with another ancient tradition.

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After that we read some other ancient sounding and thoroughly relevant words as we gazed out towards the water under a bluebird sky.

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Lord of Creation,

create in us a new rhythm of life composed of hours that sustain rather than stress,

of days that deliver rather than destroy,

of time that tickles rather than tackles.

Lord of Liberation,

by the rhythm of your truth, set us free from the bondage and baggage that break us,

from the Pharaohs and fellows that fail us,

from the plans and pursuits that prey upon us.

Lord of the Resurrection,

may we be raised into the rhythm of your new life,

dead to deceitful calendars,

dead to fleeting friend requests,

dead to the empty peace of our accomplishments.

To our packed-full planners, we bid, “Peace!”

To our over-caffeinated consciences, we say, “Cease!”

To our suffocating selves, Lord, grant release.

Drowning in a sea of deadlines and death chimes,

we rest in you, our lifeline.

By your ever-restful grace,

allow us to enter your Sabbath rest

as your Sabbath rest enters into us.

In the name of our Creator,

our Liberator,

our Resurrection and Life,

we pray.

Amen.

Happy Easter.

B.

 

Seek and you shall find…


We went searching for wide open spaces…

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And found thin places.

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It’s been one of those times where it feels like we’ve been running pretty hard for quite some time.  Against that backdrop, a few days off spent with friends and extended family has been the perfect antidote.  Our time has included beach-combing, cold water ankle biters and scouring some Northern coastlines for a couple of surfable spots that I’ve been observing for a little while now and which I reckon warrant a surfari with some of the crew in the near future.

Amidst that there have been thoughts that outnumber the grains of sand and reminders of promises of old writ in brushstokes across the sky.

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These are days to remember.

B.

CS Scotland Gathering…well, that’s fantastic!

This weekend felt exciting, important and somewhat seminal.  We hosted our first ever CS Scotland Gathering in Edinburgh and it left me rather moved on more than one occasion to see these faces gathered from across Scotland looking back at me.

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We kicked the day off with a great breakfast spread.

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Then we launched into a sweet little two-minute video that Anna had put together.  You can watch it on the link below and I’m sure it’ll make you smile whilst also giving a good snapshot of how things have looked for some of us as individuals and as a group this past little while.

Jaci helpfully shared some thoughts about the sea as a metaphor for life.  Whilst the photo and film above show lots of smiling faces, the conversations over hot and cold drinks and tray-bakes at various points throughout the day also covered the reality that life for many of us has also thrown a few punches this past year.  For that reason, amongst others, I know how grateful I am to have friends and people I know to varying degrees who share similar passions and with whom I can walk through life or wash off the troubles in the sea.  Jaci encouraged us to leave some of our baggage at the door.

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Throughout the day, we were grateful for the time and space that Josh so helpfully enabled us to carve out in order to process some of what we were thinking about.

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We were really stoked to have Johnny Hillman of CSUK travel up from Cardiff to spend the weekend with us.  He told the extraordinary story of the humble beginnings of CS in Australia in the late 1970′s and how the organisation has grown exponentially and globally since that time.  Johnny then very helpfully unpacked what some of the core values of CS are and why – what it is and what it is not.

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After lunch, Michael produced a map of Scotland.  We identified recognised surf spots and surf communities (being sure not to disclose secret spots!) by placing a series of red dots around our cold-watered shore-line.  Our CS Scotland Facebook group now has about 65 members, many of whom are fairly scattered by geography.  He then encouraged us to place yellow dot stickers where some of these folks were based.  It was interesting to see where clusters are located and also how many of the established surf spots had “yellow dots” close to them.  Then we placed a green dot on the only place where there is an established group of us meeting up regularly to hang out, share food, socialise, read and talk about the bible together and to do life with one another through the highs, the lows and the in-betweens.

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It was a hugely helpful illustration of what things look like right now.  It will be a useful resource to revisit in the future to see whether any of the “traffic light colours” change in different areas.  It was clear that this was not about pushing an agenda or forcing a belief system – quite the contrary.  Many of our own experiences of CSUK have been ones where servanthood has been modelled well.  Many of us have witnessed first hand the menial tasks of providing hot food or drinks at a host of UK Surf Contests from the UK Pro Tour in Thurso to the Boardmasters in Newquay through to the vibe at contests such as the Longboard at Polzeath or the Classic in Croyde.  If you need any convincing that CSUK are a genuine and non-threatening bunch, then Tom Anderson’s book, “Grey Skies, Green Waves” ought to allay your fears.  Personally, having loved his surf books for years I was privileged to meet him at a CSUK fund-raiser in Cardiff last year.  That particular evening, Tom also gave an address as a non-believer whose own religion was surfing.  He enthused about the role that CSUK plays in so many areas of the UK surf scene and why he thinks it is such a great organisation.

After lunch, we reconvened and I took everyone on a canter through 1000 years of surf history and 40 years of Scottish surf culture.  We began to explore some of the trends emerging within surf culture.  We then focussed on the somewhat selfish nature of it as a pursuit.  Whilst surfing was once thought of as counter-cultural, it has become fairly mainstream.  Just look at how frequently it is mined by marketeers.  Our attention was then directed to how we can actually operate in a way that is counter to the culture, more selfless in a way.  How can we create and contribute positively to that?

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As the afternoon drew to a close we watched a very moving video involving pro-surfer Dave Yearwood.  I’d really encourage you to watch it and I reckon that the 22 minutes or so you invest in it will be well worth it.  I found it hugely powerful and you can check it out by clicking on the link below.

The intention had been to spend the evening chilling and watching surf movies.  We ended up assembling a VW Camper-van tent, ordering in Chinese take-away and flopping on bean bags, eating, chatting and laughing.  Someone described it the next day as the perfect end to the day and having felt like “family”.

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On Sunday morning, Johnny and I fired up the engine of Davina the camper-van and parked her up outside Central Hall.  We followed that with the pleasure of Jaci’s aero-pressed coffee and cooked breakfast complemented with a good side portion of banter at Team B’s flat.

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Then a good core group of us reconvened at Central for their Sunday morning service where Johnny and I had the opportunity to talk about CS and some of the things that had come out of the Gathering.

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There was an open invite to those who wanted to come back to ours for soups, bread, cheeses and a host of left over baking from the day before.

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By mid afternoon, a few of us were beginning to wilt from too much time spent indoors.  So, with Magic Seaweed having been showing that it was totally flat on the East coast, we wrapped up and headed off for a stroll along the beach at Portobello.

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It was a perfect way to unwind in one another’s company and even involved a serenade on the famous piano that has been gifted in recent weeks to the people of Porty.

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We finished the afternoon off with a good old blether over hot chocolates in The Espy.

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It really has been a wonderful weekend.

Thank you to everyone who came.  Thanks also to: Shirley for capturing so much of the day on camera including many of the photos included here; Laurie for welcoming people, scribing and for her signature Nutella cupcakes and; to everyone else who baked, contributed or who put in so much effort behind the scenes.  For those of you who were unable to make it, we trust this gives you a flavour of things and we’d love to see you at our CS Scotland Gathering next year!

B.

 

 

Scotland Gathering

Scotland Gathering

This weekend I’m really excited to be helping to launch the first ever Christian Surfers Scotland Gathering in Edinburgh.  It’s not just for Christians and it’s not just for Surfers and it’s not just for Edinburgh.  Whether you surf or love other board sports or just enjoy being out amonst the elements, or whether you love Jesus or are just curious, or whether you find yourself in a coastal communtiy or in a land-locked city – this is for you.

So, why not come along this weekend?  We’re so stoked to have Johnny Hillman from CSUK joining us from Cardiff.  There’s no charge.  There’ll be a free breakfast from 9.30 setting us up for a chilled day where we can hang out, hear some stories that I’m sure will leave us all inspired and enthused.  We’ll also explore what is happening on these cold-watered shores and how we might just be able to contribute positively to the great culture many of us know and love so much.  Whilst there’s a lot we’ll cover, the pace of day will include lots of break out time to chat and laugh over hot and cold drinks and home-baking.  People can come and go if there are other commitments too.

The Gathering kicks off from 9.30 at Central Hall, West Tollcross Edinburgh.  We’ll be in the Lewis room at the top right hand side of the external stone staircase accessed via the big gates from street level just off the junction of Lothian Road and West Tollcross.

We’d love to see you there.

B.

Work, rest and play.

For me personally, the plates have been spinning quite precariously for a good few weeks now.  So, against that backdrop, a day carved out with friends at the beach coupled with a few nice longboard waves was the perfect remedy.  I summarised it on twitter yesterday with the 140 character soundbyte

“Take a campervan, fill it with friends, a sense that life is short & each day is a gift.  Share waves, food, stories & life.  Then repeat.”

So, what does that look like?

Yesterday, it was something like this:

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After all, I’d rather enter another week of work from the starting point of a place of rest…

I book-ended my weekend on twitter with the following:

Wetsuit hung out to dry under a canopy of stars.  Off to bed with sand in my hair, dried saltwater on my skin & a grin on my face. #SoulFed.

B.

Soul Sunday 6th April 2014 – an update.

The previous post outlines the loose plans for our monthly Soul Sunday tomorrow.  For those of you discouraged by the lack of waves, here’s today’s update from Coast 2 Coast  Surf School:

Lovely waves coming into Belhaven today, clean waist to shoulder high (Saturday)! Still a few spaces at 1.30pm for hires or lessons if want to join last minute (07971 990361).

We also have small beginner waves forecast tomorrow Sunday and will hopefully run surf lessons and we will be heading out for a SUP class too! Nice day for both.

This coming week, the surf looks like its going to pick up again giving nice small surf for our junior and adult beginners lessons and courses. With mild weather, long period small surf hovering around the 1-2ft region and offshore winds Mon to Thurs its looking fun for longboards. We also have adventure activities on too with coasteering and SUP kicking off properly again. If interested just get in touch.

Photo Coast to Coast’s surf assistant, Max Hook dropping in on his way to third in the Longboard final Scottish Champs last weekend (Thurso). Thanks so much for the Photo Malcolm Anderson.

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B.

Soul Sunday – 6th April 2014.

As Gandalf said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us”.

If we waited for perfect conditions, there’s a host of things we’d never do.  So, the weather looks a bit wet and overcast for Sunday.  Nevertheless, we’ll still be heading down to the car park at John Muir Country Park by East Links Farm, near Dunbar from 11 am on Sunday for a couple of hours for a bit of fresh air and a trudge across the salt marsh.  The waves seem to be dropping, so a surf doesn’t look like it will be on the cards – although we’ll keep checking the charts.

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So, why don’t you: wrap up; bring a flask; some food; a conversation starter; a smile and; no agenda.

Oh, and Davina the camper-van will be joining us!

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B.

 

 

A Mental Note To Self.

I’ve felt this way before…

The day I discovered that I’d had my offer received on the first flat I bought…

The morning I awkwardly paced around my bedroom tied to the phone socket by a cable trying to pluck up the courage to ask my now Father in Law for his daughter’s hand in marriage…

The night we came in above the orange glow of San Francisco as newly weds and I suddenly felt the enormity of what it was to love and look after my best friend whatever may befall – for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health till death do us part…

The first evening at home with our first child, tired, excited and scared witless at the dawning realisation that we could no longer press a “call” button and summon a nurse…

Yesterday I drove Davina the camper-van back from the coach works.  She’s passed her MOT and is serviced and handles altogether differently from when we put her in for some essential repairs a fortnight ago.  It’s been a long journey and I am thrilled and excited.  But, truthfully, I also had this unexpected huge sense of being riddled with doubt.  Maybe it’s just the realisation that this is really happening.  All we have talked and dreamed and prayed about for the adventures ahead on the road less travelled.  And, yet, that comes with a cost.  A cost of time, of money, of prioritising things, of stepping up and stepping out into the unknown.  It feels more like the faith of leap than a leap of faith right now.

So, as I got ready for bed last night I smiled to myself on seeing the image below which two of my favourite surfers CJ and Damien Hobgood had posted on Twitter with the phrase #self reminder.

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Thank you, boys.

B.

 

Do Gooders…

Following on from my previous post, I was so stoked to receive the photo below through my twitter feed today!

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The Wave Project have successfully fundraised and secured their target level of £5,000.  Any further pledges will continue to be allocated to their wonderful work, so if you’ve not pledged support as yet there is still time and merit in doing so by clicking here.

Whilst, I’m being a cheer-section for good things within our surf culture, Surfers Against Sewage have their Big Spring Beach Clean events happening at about 120 beaches throughout the country this weekend.  I’ve always found these times to be great socially and it’s just nice to be able to give a little something back to the environment we can all too easily take for granted.  All the information including a further hyperlink to the meeting places and times of each of the cleans can be found by clicking here.

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Sometimes it’s good to be a do-gooder!

B.

 

 

Crowd Surfing…

I know that I say it all the time, but, one of the things I love most about surfing is the people I meet through it.  Where else would I come across individuals from so many different walks of life, with so many different experiences, stories or world views?  Some of them are hugely inspirational.

Over the past few years, we’ve opened our home up for some of the CSUK crew who have been travelling to and from the UK Pro Tour event in Thurso each October.  We’ve met some truly wonderful characters through simply offering somewhere to: break the journey; share some meals; crash out; shower; sleep and refresh.

A couple of years ago Devon based shaper, Joel Blackman, stayed with us and I’ve written about his innovative surfboard design “The Port Glass” here.  Last year his wife, Helen, also joined us.  They are both heavily involved with an amazing charity called The Wave Project which uses surfing as a means for young people, particularly those for whom life has thrown some punches or where there are mental health difficulties, to overcome challenges and feel more positive.

Here’s Helen explaining something of it in her own words.

The time and effort they dedicate, devote, invest and sacrifice to this was recognised last year when they won surf volunteers of the year.

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The Wave Project are in the midst of a fund-raising drive at present.  They are doing so via Crowdfunder.  The amount raised is increasing all the time but, at the time of typing this, they have raised £3,151 out of a target of £5,000.  If they fail to reach their target by the Friday, however, none of the funds are collected from those who have pledged support – so they essentially go back to a big, fat, nasty, zero!  They really are within grasp of their target level by the cut off date of this Friday.

So, here’s the challenge I direct at you and to myself equally.  Even as we await our pay packets at the end of the month, can any of us pledge any support?  Can we go without something this week or month that would enable us to find money to direct here instead this week?  Could we make a packed lunch rather than buying a sandwich?  Could we cycle and save a bus fare or petrol money?  Could we buy a jar of coffee to keep in the office rather than popping out for a fresh brew from a cafe?  Could we do without that download from iTunes or Netflix?

The exciting thing too is that the Wave Project is also being piloted in Scotland next month in conjunction with our friends at Coast 2 Coast surf school in Dunbar.  You can read about that on the Wave Project’s website by clicking here.  Alternatively, here’s a great article by Roger Cox that appeared in The Scotsman.

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Now, most importantly, if you feel that you can add any support at all, then please click here to be directed to the crowdfunder page.

Thanks,

B.

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