the how + the why

I call this space ‘the journey’ because we are all in process. It was my birthday last week, I was 29 on the 29th. Fridge magnets all over the world in different kitchens say something like ‘life’s about the journey, not the destination’. Simplistic as that may be, I feel there is something to dig into here. A journey is not simply moving from Point A (Tobermory on the Isle of Mull) to Point B (Rosslea Hall Hotel, Helensburgh). The journey is the how – how do I connect those geographical points, how do I overcome the difficulty of rail strikes, possible bad weather on a ferry crossing, how do I leave room for the unexpected? The journey is also the why – why am I trying to get to Rosslea Hall Hotel, what do these places on the map mean to me? These places I won’t stay long, but hold meaning for me while I am there, a couple of days before my birthday.

In Tobermory, I stayed with my family in a cosy Airbnb. It was remote and beautiful, we explored all over the island and a couple of the surrounding islands. We enjoyed being outside in sunshine, wind and rain. I wore flipflops and shorts nearly every day. One evening we played Articulate, a favourite board game from my early childhood. My sister told us some big news she had to share. Every family holiday is different, and holds the possibility of being the last one we make as this group of people. And are we always this group of people? We are always in process people, so maybe each year is different because we are different every year.

And then, one day before my family left Tobermory, Dad dropped me off at the ferry terminal to make my way to Helensburgh. I walked onto the ferry carrying my freshly dry cleaned summer dress in a plastic bag, because I didn’t want to squash it into my only bag, a rucksack full of snacks. I bought a coffee on board and found a seat. It was just after 7am. I hung my dress on the frame of an advert and watched an episode during the ferry crossing. As the ferry arrived in Oban, I carefully walked down the wet stairs holding onto my dress, and waited for the tannoy to announce it was safe to disembark. It was 8:20 and the train was leaving Oban at 08:57. The train platform was gated, and I was the fifth passenger to be waiting at the station. The four passengers before me were sitting on the only benches sheltered from the rain, so I got out my rainmac and sat on it on a wet bench. The sun was shining at that moment and it was nice to be in the fresh air. I was watching the train board, but I was thankful for the date. It was a day in between train strikes, and my train was showing as on time.

I didn’t know it then, because I was still on the journey with most of it left to go between Oban and Helensburgh, but I had already completed the most strange and difficult bit. It had been disembarking from the ferry, moving really slowly on wet stairs and realising all the crew were busy working and I was only one of two foot passengers, and the other passenger was very far away from me. I had this strange awareness that if I had fallen, there would be nobody near me to help.

I didn’t fall. The train was not late.

I got on the train and found a seat and it was an easy journey to Helensburgh. Going through the mountains on that train route is just incredible. The photos I took do not do it justice. I got off the train, and walked into town in the sunshine to catch a bus to the hotel. I had a wonderful day being a guest at the wedding. I did not leave my dress on the train, although that had been worrying me all day! I am so thankful I got to go, it was so special to share with my friends. But you know, even though I had a unique and interesting journey to get to the wedding, once I got to the wedding the journey and the potential difficulties and timing sensitivies stopped mattering. Not one person wanted to know about my ferry crossing, train ride, bus ride. We were too busy talking about the bride and groom, what are they wearing, when will they get here, are they having a special day? At the end of the day the bride asked me if I cut my holiday short, I said yes, a little, but it’s much more important to me to be here with you celebrating your committment. We are our journeys, we are our weddings, we are our singleness, we are the rise and the fall, ebb and flow, yes and no.

I call this space the journey.

typewriter

There is a typewriter at the end of the world

it is for those who have avoided the falling meteors, the earthquakes, the flood, the biogas.

There is a typewriter at the end of the world and you have no control over who finds what you write

it could be someone you love, someone you hate, someone you never met in life

but they find what you write, and they love you for a moment for your strangeness, your humanness, and your flaws,

so what do you write?

There is a typewriter at the end of the world

who do I write for?

How do you use a typewriter? How do you fix the paper in it?

Hey Siri, how do you use a typewriter?

Oh yeah, Siri’s dead

Despite the smoke and the gas that chokes, I have to learn this new old thing

a typewriter!

If I knew yesterday the world was ending

I’d have gotten a plane, a train, a bus, to spend my last moments with you, but alas I didn’t know, now it’s time to go,

life was too short to say it

death is too long to hold it in!

I spent years forgetting

but as the sky falls I must recall it all.

You waited for me

I wore my wellies on a too hot day

did we go to golf? Did I become your wife?

The fragments of my life

you laughed I cried

the ferris wheel never turned

I should have listened to the ferris wheel

but I was the sea glass and you were Poseidon

you eroded my edges

were we not wedded?

Have I got it all wrong at the end of all things?

There is a typewriter

I am a type of writer

Take a breath, of non-toxic air, (I hope)

Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack,

ka                                ching

Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack,

ka                                ching

Bethany Lunn © April 2022

public and private

I had a job interview this year with an individual who I would have liked to work for, who is very much in the public eye, and I was asked if I was prepared to be living and working in the public eye. Especially on my personal social media, this would have been always reflecting on this public figure. The employer found someone else they wanted to employ more, and I am now working in a very different capacity which I enjoy and is a niche I am creating for myself.

The private and the public is a topic I think about often. The paradox of the private and the public is that what I do in private, when nobody else can see, proves my character, and overflows into what I do in public. My faithfulness, or my diligence in areas people can’t see, will always shine through without me speaking about it. Conversely, my private failings, will always eventually find me out.

Jesus spoke about this principle – don’t let everyone know you are fasting, fast to God alone and for God’s glory, not my own glory. Jesus also lived this out. He had a public ministry, but he never did anything in public at the expense of his private times with God, and private times of fellowship and teaching of the disciples. I have been reading and studying the gospel of Luke slowly with a close friend and we are reminded almost every week that Jesus guarded private times with God.

Daniel the prophet and visionary faithfully prayed at least three times a day to God in secret, he lived in Ancient Babylon and Ancient Persia at the court of 3 kings when it was illegal to worship anyone other than the king on the throne. His private devotion to Yahweh was noted and reported on by those wise men who were jealous of him and this led to Daniel being thrown to the lions.

Esther lived at a similar time as Daniel, married to the king of Persia. She had a secret identity and a public identity. She had the ‘right’, if you will, to keep her identity a secret. As an individual, any of us can behave in any way we choose. But if we honour God first, we relinquish our hold on the ‘rights’ we feel entitled to by the world, and live to please God first. This often leads to more community minded thinking, like Esther standing up for her community. She had to reveal her private secret in order to fulfil her public ministry. When I work to benefit and give justice to the most vulnerable people in my community, I am most myself.

Living even earlier, I love noting how God’s special shepherd king David dealt with the private and the public. We have a direct window into his private life through the Psalms – many of which were written by David, and started as private songs of worship, prayers and laments David sang to God in private which he later chose to record and lead people in public worship.

I suppose what I am saying, what I glean from the lives of these examples is the message that there is no such thing as a public life and a private life. I live one life, before God, the witness of all my thoughts and deeds. If I get into the habit of thinking about a private life and a public life, I am on dangerous territory. When my time is over, I want to be greeted with “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master!” That greeting will only be mine if I faithfully attend to my devotion to God in private, at the times nobody else is keeping me accountable. I was made to do this, and I access joy by faithfully doing it throughout my life.

pc: Ross Sneddon

the story begins; make it yourself

I have been writing this story since I could first hold a pen. I know you do it too. I tell myself stories all the time, my running commentary on the events happening around me.

It’s 4am. I am dogsitting, housesitting, not in my usual surroundings, without my usual people. Just me and two upset dogs, one of whom has diarrhoea. Yep. It’s poo time, it’s everywhere, the mess is all over the floor and I just can’t. All I want is to crawl into bed, and be done with everything, to hand these doggies back to their owner. But I don’t crawl back into bed, because I made a commitment to take care of the dogs so my sweet friends can go to meet family and get married. The thing is, I am able to tell my story to myself, to remind myself of the higher purpose beyond the poo, of the reason I agreed to be here, despite the potential for disaster and reality of mess. The poo is everywhere, my precious sleep is interrupted, not once but many times through this night and the following night. But I get up, I comfort the doggies, especially since she has made a mess right by the front door, as if she was trying to go outside to not leave me mess indoors. Please be reminded that even in your mess, Father God loves you.

I think you have had a 4am like this at some point. Maybe it’s because you’re a new parent, or you have new money worries that keep spiralling. Maybe it’s an old wound, that doesn’t seem to go away.

Please be assured that 4ams come, and 4ams go. God chose this 4am to remind me of his supernatural peace, which has nothing to do with getting a good night’s sleep. “You keep her in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because she trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Go on. Put your name in there. My Father God, you promise to keep Beth in perfect peace, because Beth chooses to stay my mind on you. That ‘stay’ is a bit clunky in English, it is a translation of the Hebrew word samak, which Strong’s dictionary translates in the following ways: to “lay, uphold, put, lean, stay, sustain, hold up, bear up, stand fast, lie hard, rest, set”. Now, all those words add nuance and are interesting. What is your favourite? When I read the words “stand fast” and “lie hard”, I started to get excited. Please God, help me learn what it means to “stand fast” and “lie hard” my mind, on You.

Let me leave you with what I know to be the first step in helping my mind stand fast and lie hard on My Father God. It’s realising that I have a choice. The stories I tell myself in my mind, are not involuntary, as I once thought, they are a choice. I get to choose which of my thoughts I allow to stay in my mind, and which I choose to get rid of.

For me, at 4am on the poopy, no sleep morning, I chose to not dwell on the unfairness of being landed with sick doggies, and I chose to praise. I chose in that moment to allow this particular verse from Isaiah to occupy my mind, and in doing so, the Truth soothed my soul.

The story of the universe, which we are all part of, started with God, and ends with God. It started in a garden, and it ends with a King. A King who suffered and died. A King who’s coming back. Next time you catch yourself telling a story that is hopeless, remember you can choose to tell a different story, a bigger story which can make you whole and soothe your soul.

love always, Beth x

the story begins; make it yourself. Chalk picture spotted at Glasgow harbour

life didn’t have to be that way

WATCH NOW: Steph Macleod and Teen Challenge Stathclyde on Vimeo

I was crippled with fear. I came into Teen Challenge, and I was told that my life didn’t have to be that way, and I was introduced to an amazing man called Jesus Christ. Through the love of God, and the love and support of the staff, I started to change, on the inside.

Richy Howat

Please join me, Steph MacLeod and everyone at Teen Challenge Strathclyde in worship and with real life stories, by clicking the link above.

lament, rise & flourish

This moment is not about me, but I believe we are all somewhere in between these three words at the moment and I wanted to spend a moment with you where you are. I might write more about these three words in the future. I am struggling with how to respond to the events of the past few weeks, so I am not going to speak for long. Primarily I am going to point you in some of the directions that have really helped me to put words to some of the anguish I have been feeling. I sense that all of us will be in a similar place at the moment, trying to process and work through how to respond as a church to issues of racial injustice in our communities and further afield. Lots of you will have received list of resources for different reasons, petitions to sign and other things which is so needed, but I am sending you a short list of places I am filling my heart with truth, a list which is provoking questions in me, because I am feeling so overwhelmed by the choice of other places I might turn and activism I might embark on.

God’s Justice NIV Bible – available on eden.co.uk

United? We Pray: Taking Racial Struggles to the Throne of Grace uwepray.com

Feet Cry Mercy – Alicia Akins blog who always write with grace and thoughtfulness on issues of culture, empathy and faith. feetcrymercy.com

Online church – Mount Zion church Quarriers Village https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_yGrDNvQl8f4yAQrMy40cQ

The UK blessing video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUtll3mNj5U

The Grove Podcast – Passion City Church’s women’s ministry podcast which is always full of Bible truth and lifts my heart.

The New Activist podcast

Go well friend. I hope you are choosing life, despite the challenges. Black lives matter.

some thoughts

Some thoughts as I begin writing my dissertation (a case study on Scotland, asking who is identified as a victim of modern slavery?)

Market capitalism keeps many of the world’s poorest people in exploitative circumstances. I have never had to make a choice that impacted my survival. Capitalism means that so many of us are born propertyless – and so have to make real choices between an exploitative labour situation, perhaps a form of debt bondage, or starvation. Nobody will say no to a job, even if it’s a job that the ILO or the UNODC would class as a form of modern slavery. Sometimes, people have to choose to be exploited.

I don’t have an alternative economic model for the world to be built on, although I try and understand the state of the global economy, lots of what I read goes over my head. However, I do wholeheartedly believe that there is a better way to live than continually exploiting the poorest people. In the beginning, the people of God were called to be a people of justice. When growing food in the kingdom of Israel, the people were told by God not to harvest all the way to the corners of the fields or pick up anything the harvesters had dropped, so anyone who did not own property could use that food (Leviticus 9:22). Once every seven years, for a whole year, the land was left fallow, not planted and harvested as usual, but left uncultivated primarily for the socially outcast and the poorest people to use whatever grew on it that year (Exodus 23:11). Lots of us are having years in which our livelihoods feel ‘fallow’ at the moment, and we are not cultivating the things we usually cultivate. I ask you to rest in this. I trust that you see this as an opportunity, that the Lord really can use this time for the long term good of the poorest people in our society. I don’t necessarily know all that might mean in the future, but I know that God can cultivate a global economic situation that does not hinge on an underworld of marginalised poor people. I do genuinely think that this moment of economic crisis presents an opportunity to begin thinking about ways of creating wealth in order to share it.

What could it mean, if I not just grow potatoes for my house, but I let anyone in my street share my produce too?

What does it look like, if when I realise I am running low on leggings and sports tops, I go first to a slave-free retailer?

What does it mean if my government decide to turn away from exploitation, towards a fairer way of being?

https://www.ijmuk.org/pray-for-justice

the Great Veg Grow: getting started

#Lunnsonlockdown

What are you doing to stay sane during lockdown? My family and I are growing vegetables. A friend reminded me that it is a luxury to have the space to do this. I am thankful for my family who love me and don’t want to harm me. I have begun growing for multiple reasons, one is that I love being outside in the sunshine and we want to make the most of the sun while it is here in Scotland! Another is that I firmly believe in growing where I am planted. If we have to stay in our homes for some time, I will grow in my home, both in my heart and my faith and in the veg patch behind the house. This is a time that requires each day to have an achieveable goal. While I am carrying on with university work and my goal is to write 500 words a day to do well in my tasks, I also am setting one other goal a day for myself like

1) write letters to loving friends

2) FaceTime someone I haven’t spoken to in a while

3) Write about being

Some women and girls who are inside with family members for longer periods of time in lockdown will be experiencing higher levels of violence than usual. This is true for my girls in Uganda, and is true in developed countries. Just one aspect of lockdown you might not yet have considered and could pray into.

I don’t offer platitudes to you, or a comfort without any weight. There may well be weight to the pain you are experiencing today. But I do offer faith, with weight. I mentioned the women and girls above, who are experencing more violence now because I care about them and I have glimpsed in my life the way that the Lord cares about these girls, all of whom I don’t know personally. Over the coming days I will be writng a series called Lockdown with Purpose: locked in narratives in the Bible, because although this is unprecedented in the democratic twenty first century, it is not the first time anyone has ever had their liberties restricted. The Lord is calling us to stay close to him and to use this time intentionally. Here I will end, and leave you with my veg plot. I hope it makes you smile! Go well, and grow friend.

I know who holds the future, And I know he holds my hand;
With God things don’t just happen everything by Him is planned.
So as I face tomorrow with its problems large and small,
I’ll trust the God of miracles, Give to Him my all!

“Not a moment; it’s the movement”

Hamilton, #SlaveFreeLent and the University of Glasgow

I started this weekend by listening to Hamilton. This was different than the other times I have listened to Hamilton, because I have spent a lot of my thought life and planning time this week preparing for #SlaveFreeLent and my part in University of Glasgow’s Stand for Freedom, 5-6 March. Hamilton is about freedom and independence, and abolition and freedom from slavery are a key theme in the show. I let that really wash over me and sink into my heart as I listened to John Laurens rapping about freedom from slavery in ‘My Shot’, and the implications of the fact that Hamilton was the son of a Scottish man. Scotland’s historical links to transatlantic slavery matter. As a new abolitionist who longs to see an end of modern slavery, I speak over where we now stand fighting modern slavery; “this is not a moment, it’s a movement” (Lin Manuel Miranda, ‘My Shot’, Hamilton). We are here for the long haul, we are here to move forward together, actioning this one step at a time.

This leads me to speak about #SlaveFreeLent (www.ijmuk.org/slavefree). For anyone who is not part of this campaign yet, it isn’t too late! It constitutes messages on WhatsApp each day of Lent about an aspect of modern slavery, facts in small digestible doses and crucially, a suggested action. This week as a movement, the 1900 people in the UK currently signed up to take part in #SlaveFreeLent have given up chocolate in honour of the children who are exploited on cocoa farms. “Two thirds of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa, where more than 2 million children are thought to be exploited in the cocoa industry…The practice isn’t new, or even unknown to chocolate brands. In fact, two decades ago chocolate brands pledged to eradicate child labor. But deadlines continue to be missed.” (IJM UK, #SlaveFreeLent). Please take a moment to pause here. You might well be someone who has already pledged to give up chocolate for Lent, for your own reasons, and I honour that. But have you thought yet about the people behind the product? If not, why not? If you have already read this today and your heart hurts, like mine, for the children who are forced to work on cocoa farms, and it’s beginning to stir you, I say there are actions we can take. We can write to brands and use our consumer power. We can write to politicians and use our advocacy power. I will post in the future about my experiences writing and advocating so far. Whatever you do, don’t sit back and say you could not do anything, or pretend you didn’t know.

Finally, I wanted to highlight Stand for Freedom. This week I will be part of the University of Glasgow’s Stand for Freedom, in which members of Just Love are standing outside the library as a for 24 hours to protest the use of modern slavery and forced labour in the making of university branded clothing in the campus shop. If you are a UoG student, alumni or staff, please consider signing this petition here to support our campaign. I have written already about my thoughts linking transatlantic slavery and modern slavery. They are both wrong, and need to be fought. I think at times we all experience feeling powerless to change the systems we are fighting. I want you to know that I do not believe that anymore, I feel convinced that my voice is powerful because I do not stand alone. I am part of a group, a process, with a long term goal to end injustice, fighting on different fronts and in different spaces, one of which is cyberspace. Congratulations friend, because by reading this article, you are part of the fight.