Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Social Anxiety Research Protocol

Entry for 24 April 2007

The research protocol for the Person-Centred/Experiential Therapy for Social Anxiety study has been completed. I turned it in to the EPS Department Ethics Committee on Friday, hoping that they would not sit on it too long before they forwarded it on to University Ethics Committee. Unfortunately, they sent it on through regular campus mail, so it missed the deadline by a day and may have to wait until June to be reviewed.

The Social Anxiety Study Group has been discussing the research protocol for months, and I’ve spent the past 3 weeks working steadily on it. The final document has 20 appendices, mostly questionnaires and interview schedules. It took all last week just to finalize and print them off, and we are continuing to tinker with various ones.

In the process, we have devised a various new or revised instruments, and of course gotten much clearer on what we actually going to be doing. We are now hoping to begin recruiting clients in early May, assuming the ethics review doesn’t get put off until June, and that they actually approve it on the first go.

One thing we’ve tackled as part of the ethics proposal is who is going to be in the study and who is not. This requires specification of inclusion and exclusion criteria:

Inclusion criteria: (1) Person sees self as having social anxiety difficulties; (2) meets criteria for DSM-IV diagnosis of social anxiety disorder; (3) willingness to take part in research procedures (interviews, questionnaires, video/audio recording)

Exclusion criteria: (1) Currently in psychotherapy or counselling elsewhere; (2) current severe substance abuse; (3) current active psychotic condition; (4) current domestic violence situation; or (5) other current clinically predominant disorder/problem (e.g., social anxiety secondary to medical condition or depression)

Here is the research protocol as it stands:

A. Initial Contact:
1. Recruitment: Website; flyer; targeted announcements
2. Initial Contact: email; or research clinic number (office or researcher)
3. Telephone Screening: 20-30 minute pre-screening form by researcher or team member/diploma student

B. Screening:
4. Face-to-face Screening/ Intake: 2-4 hrs diagnostic assessment:
4a. Diagnostic: Clinical Disorders: Anxiety Disorder Interview Schedule (ADIS-IV)
4b. Diagnostic: Disordered Personality Processes: Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire-version 4 (PDQ-4)
4c. General consent form: Given & completed
4d. Individualized change measure: Personal Questionnaire: worksheet, followed by interview to construct
4e. Consent to use recordings: Completed (review later)
5. Assignment to counseling/ counselor: To either classical person-centred or process-experiential/emotion-focused therapy (?random)

C. Therapy Outcome:
6. Outcome measures: Pre; midtreatment: after session 8; postherapy; 6- & 18-mo follow-ups
6a. General problem distress: CORE-Outcome Measure
6b. Individualized problem distress: Personal Questionnaire (weekly; 2 pretests)
6c. Problem specific: Social Phobia Inventory (2 pretests)
6d. Theory-specific:
(i) Experiential access: Strathclyde Inventory
(ii) Self-Concept: Self-Relationship Questionnaire
6e. Interpersonal: Inventory of Interpersonal Problems
6f. Health/Cost offset: Health Utilization Scale

D. Session-Level Processes:
7. Client Post-session:
7a. Qualitative events: Helpful Aspects of therapy (HAT) Form
7b. Therapeutic relationship: Working Alliance Inventory-12-R
7c. Theory-specific: Therapeutic Relationship Scale (being developed)
8. Therapist Post-session: Theory-specific:
(i) PE-EFT: Therapist Experiential Session Form-2
(ii) PCA: Therapist version of Therapeutic Relationship Scale

E. Mid/Post Only:
9. Mid/post-therapy: After session 8; post; follow-ups; administered by researcher or team member
(i) Change Interview: Changes; helpful/ unhelpful aspects
(ii) Relational Depth Scale
(iii) Consent to release recordings: Review

With many thanks to the members of the Social Anxiety Study Group for their help in developing the protocol!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Balfron 10k Race

Entry for 22 April 2007:

Last month when Mike Hough, one of my colleagues, proposed that we do the upcoming 10k race in Balfron, I readily agreed, eager to experience a Scottish road race. And so Diane, Cristina and I set out this morning for the small town of Balfron, about 45 minutes drive north of Glasgow, quite close, really, to Aberfoyle, where we spent a good part of yesterday. It is located in a green valley on the far side of the Campsie Fells from Glasgow, with rolling hills and a small river, the Endrick Water, running through it.

We met Mike and his partner, Allie, there, at the modern community school in Balfron that was the base for the run. There were about 600 runners entered, and the day was ideal for running: about 10 degrees Celsius, with a light breeze and overcast. There was good energy at the school, with runners and observers there to have a good time. Although it was a bit cold and a light smirr was falling as we lined up to start the race, the rain soon let up and we warmed up quickly after the race started.

The pack was quite thick to start with, partly because of the narrow roads, so it took some jockeying for position at various points on the out-and-back course. We mostly ran along a one-lane, paved but pot-holed country road that went east along and above the Endrick Water, over rolling hills. About a kilometer into the race, we passed a heard of cows, lowing in mild concern at the herd of humans stampeding by.

I was aiming to break 50 minutes, my usual goal for a 10k race, which made it very convenient that the course was marked in 1 kilometer increments: I just needed to maintain slightly better than a 5 min/kilometer pace. The smaller interval made it easier to pace myself by providing me with more frequent feedback. There was a long hill descent between 2k and 3k, during which I picked up a half minute. While I was concerned about running too fast at the time, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I had to give back that half minute on the return journey!

Out-and-back courses can be boring, but the lovely surrounding and density of the runners meant that there was never a dull moment. The last klick I poured on as much speed as I could muster, especially at the very end, when I passed several runners in the home stretch. My unofficial time (by my watch) was 49:11, a time I was very pleased with, especially for my first Scottish road race. Mike came in a minute or two behind me, but still did quite well for not having trained much, and was very pleased with himself also.

Afterwards, we drove a couple miles back to Killearn, another village with a couple of good country pubs. There we had a lovely pub lunch (much better than anything I’d even eaten in England), talking about the race, Chile, and our lives for quite a while. Finally, it was time to drive back to Glasgow. Even though Diane and Cristina hadn’t run, they were both pretty tired too, and so we laid low for the rest of the day. My first Scottish road race was a great success and made for an excellent day out in lovely country, deepening our relationship with Mike, Allie and Cristina. I’m looking forward to many more races and afternoons in the country!

Additional note: The race results were posted 2 days later: Mike finished 279 out of 581, at 52:14, while I finished in 200th place, at 49:26. (The 15 sec discrepancy from my time is the time it took to reach the start line at the beginning of the race, so Mike's real time was about 52:00. Not bad for a couple of geezers!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Extending Our Range to The Trossachs

Entry for 21 April 2007:

Cristina, the daughter of Diane’s Chilean exchange student sister Gloria, arrived a few days ago, having flown in from Paris to stay with us for 2 weeks. She arrived late on Wednesday night, after the last train, so we drove down to Prestwick Airport (Glasgow’s other airport, used by Ryanair and a couple of other budget airlines). We waited for her for 45 minutes and had commenced to seriously worry about her, when she finally appeared, looking somewhat shaken. She had been mercilously grilled for most of that time, apparently because the immigration person decided that she was trying to enter the country in order to work illegally. Once she had wiped the tears away and regained her composure, we drove her back to Glasgow, but not without making a wrong turn and almost ending up in Troon!

This was our first night excursion since February, and we were somewhat nervous about the dealing with unfamiliar road in the dark, but we survived. On returning to Hyndland, I finally discovered my ultimate Hyndland Parking Secret: parking about two blocks away on Hughenden Terrace across from the rugby field. I promised myself to stop stressing out about parking after this!

Cristina is just out of college and has just spent the past 7 months teaching Spanish in Normandy. She is a nice young woman, with something of her mother’s sunny outlook, but she is a long way from home and has taken quickly to her temporary base her with us. Diane has been having fun showing her around Glasgow this week, and she is in daily contact with her boyfriend and family via the Skype phone she brought along. (Nice piece of technology: plugs into the USB port.)

Today, as part of our continuing Saturday Adventure, we decided to venture into the Trossachs National Park. Dave and Elke took us there last September on our first weekend in Scotland, so we figured that we were finally ready to try it on our own.

We decided to take the Motorway to near Stirling before doubling back west on the small 3 digit A-level roads. (It’s interesting how visitors give us occasion to develop our life skills here.) We noted Doune and its castle as worth a serious visit, and headed on to Callander. After a stop at the visitor centre there, we visited the Bracklinn Falls, a dramatic series of waterfalls above the town, tumbling through a series of rock stone edges where the rock strata have been uplifted.

Then we headed on toward Aberfoyle, again passing by another attaction we promised ourselves a return visit to: the Lake of Monteith, with its dramatic island ruin, Inchmahome Priory. At Aberfoyle, we drove up to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, picked up a map of the recommended walks, and, at 4:45 began a challenging hike up the ridge behind the visitor centre, relying on the late light already present in plentitude in late April. The most interest part was the steep half hour’s climb up the ridge. This place is right on the highland fault line, which is the geological boundary between lowlands and highlands (the lowlands are the tectonic plate that was forced under the plate that was to its north, which became the highlands. There were a lot of signs pointing out the different geological features, making this a scientifically interesting walk as well as entertaining and good exercise.

Finally, after completing our 4 mile walk, I drove us home on the small road, directly back to Glasgow, making it home in about 45 minutes. We have just expanded the range and nature of our Saturday visits to include hikes in the Trossachs, and are looking forward to many more! Thank you Dave and Elke for the inspiration!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

EFT Training in the Netherlands

Entry for 17 April 2007:

We returned from the Netherlands on Sunday, where we had gone to do a 2-day EFT training organized by Nini Swildens-de Graaff in Heusden. Heusden is a charming little village in the south of the Netherlands, an ancient fortified village of surrounded by water and geometrically-shaped earthworks, with narrow, labyrinthine streets, apparently designed for defensive purposes. (Over the centuries, between the Spanish and the Germans, it has seen its share of war.) The workshop was in Nini's house, where she lives with Hans Swildens, a famous Dutch person-centred therapist. We like both of them very much: gentle, caring, bright, open-minded.

Twelve of us gathered in Nini’s house, mostly highly experienced therapists with person-centred and focusing training. It was a lovely experience to work with such skilled and interested therapists, and the two days, though long, went by quickly. The first day, I began with an overview and emotion theory, as I usually do, but held back some of the theory for the second day. I showed the Fear-Thing video, as I typically do, and by then it was already time for a lunch break, which we took outside in Nini’s sunny back garden.

Nini had suggested we practice Systematic Evocative Unfolding (SEU) the first day, which is always a nice starting first task to work with. After providing an overview of the therapeutic task concept and SEU, I guided us through some marker work, using a Focusing-like process to help people identify possible markers to practice with and briefly discussing four of the group member’s possible markers. Then they broke up into small groups of 4 each to practice, while I went around making suggestions. After the practice, we processed the experience altogether, then in response to questions about the increasing exclusion of Person-Centred-Experiential practice from the mental health system in favor of CBT for specific client problems, I took them through the meta-analysis outcome data that I have collected over the past 15 years. Toward the end, a few people’s eyes crossed a bit…

We had dinner at a little restaurant on the main square of the village, sitting outside through the long evening (the service was very slow…) and talking.

The next day, Saturday, was devoted mostly to Two-Chair Work. Following the model I used with the Diploma students last month, I began with a bit of theory (dialectical constructivism, held back from the first day), then described the marker, and led us through marker work. One of the group members volunteered to work on a split with me, and after some fussing with the chairs, we settled into a long, complex piece of two-chair work, during which the process started intensely, wound around, got stuck, and differentiated (at which point a third chair was introduced); the Experiencer collapsed, then rallied; there was a softening of the Coach aspect, and finally we stopped at stage 5 or 6. It was probably about half an hour, but felt much longer, as we took silences in the work so it could deepen. During a couple of these times I would occasionally look over at the rest of the workshop participants watching us, and think to myself, “We’re having a great time, but they’re probably getting bored… Oh well!” Afterwards, the two of us processed the experience between ourselves before turning back to the group. When I said I’d been concerned that they might have been bored by how long it went on, they just laughed at me and told me it was my own Critic talking! It was in fact the nicest, most realistic and illustrative live demonstration that I have ever taken part in, thanks largely, I think to my volunteer’s trust and courage and to the nice atmosphere of the group. After this we broke into 3 small groups to practice again, and, amazingly, every single one got to Stage 5. amusingly, given the I had casually introduced a third chair in the live demonstration, everyone was using third or even fourth chairs…

After lunch, I showed another video, of a long, complicated two-chair process; we processed this, and then broke up into small groups. This time, the practices went in various different directions, much more realistically, as two of the practices went into different tasks and the third one got somewhat stuck. Much more realistic! Then, in responses to questions, I explained the difference between Two Chair Work, Two Chair Enactment, Empty Chair Work, and Meaning Creation. By this time, it was 6pm, and everyone was tired and wanted to go home to their families.

Nini drove me back to Vught, and as we went we processed the training. We were both pretty pleased with how it had gone. Nini commented on my gift for taking complicated things and making them clear. I felt very pleased by this observation, because it is close to my understanding of what I like to do. Diane and I went into den Bosch to hang out together and have dinner, satisfied that it had gone well.

Monday, April 09, 2007

An Easter Feast of Experiences

Entry for 8 April 2007:

Easter Sunday was more overcast than it has been lately. It turned out to be a very full day.

St. Mary’s main Easter morning service was crowded with people and music, including a few favorites such as Handel’s Hallulujah Chrorus and Widor’s Organ symphony . Afterwards people lingered, toasting each other with sparkling wine while children hunted easter eggs in the church.

We had about half an hour at home before we were off again to Margaret and John’s, two new friends from St. Mary’s. On the way to their flat, we passed the end of a massive motorcycle cavalcade that drives through Glasgow on Easter Day. We arrived at Margaret and John’s not long after they did; because of the motorcycles, it had taken them half an hour to get across Dumbarton Road to pick up the food from the Kurdish restaurant they had ordered it from. Margaret, who is Canadian and a faculty member in Celtic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, had assembled an eclectic mix of guests for an Easter Sunday meal, including folks from Poland, Hungary, Iraq, the West Indies, Glasgow, … and us. As might be imagined, this guaranteed an interesting and lively afternoon covering a wide range of topics, including life under communism and recent publicity about the 200th anniversary the British Parliament voting to end the Atlantic slave trade. Nura, the Iraqi woman, was particularly delighted to see her native cuisine featured. She works for the Burrell Collection, one of Glasgow’s main museums (which we haven’t been to yet), and Margaret had contacted her about possibilities for Kenneth to do volunteer work somewhere in the museums this summer. We left about 5, giving us another half hour before it was time to leave for the next thing…

… Which was the Festival Choral Evensong service and Ceilidh at St. Mary’s. Mikio and Hokuto had seen the flyer at our flat, and decided it might be interesting. What none of us entirely expected was an onslaught of another hour of intense Easter music, a veritable crash course in British church music, starting with William Byrd polyphony and taking in Anglican chant and hymn, Vaughan-Williams’ Let All of Heaven and Earth Sing (long a personal favorite of mine) and ending up with Herbert Howells’ Te Deum. Diane, who has mild tintinnitis, complained that her ears had buzzed almost continuously. It wasn't clear was Mikio and Hokuto thought of it all. There was more frankincense (a personal favorite of Kelvin, the Provost or main priest of the Cathedral) emanating from a brass thurible swung dangerously overhead on a long chain by a verger. And Bishop Idris was there with his Staff and Mitre to say the final blessing. As I like to say, Nothing exceeds like excess!

While we were waiting for the Celiidh band, Robbie Sheppard’s Nightmare, to set up, I showed Mikio and Hokuto around the church, in particular pointing out the murals. Mikio had loved the massive Vierne organ showpiece that had ended the service, so we showed him the organ console. We chatted for a bit with Kelvin, who described his exhaustion and the physical pain from the long Holy Week/Easter marathon (my metaphor not his). Our friends Franny and Robert appeared. There were some tables set up and we sat around and visited until the Ceilidh band starting playing. I listen to Robbie Sheppard’s program on BBC Scotland most Saturday nights and generally enjoy it, even if it occasionally verges on Lawrence Welk-type polkas. So I was expecting punk rock or thrash or something, but their Deviations from Scottish traditional country dance music mostly took the form of jazz influences in the later sections of pieces, so it proved to be quite listenable, and also quite danceable. Diane and I did square dancing in primary school so it was not totally unfamiliar, although we are not particularly competent at this sort of thing,

Fortunately, Franny and Robert literally took us in hand and added their support and encouragement to the caller’s instructions, do we were soon having an excellent time. This was our first Scottish Ceilidh experience, but we found that it is not as formal as we had expected, so we could learn and have fun at the same time. We danced the Gay Gordons, Strip the Widow, and others whose names I’ve already forgotten. We tried to get Mikio and Hokuta up and dancing but they could not be persuaded. Perhaps next time…

During one of the breaks a woman named Shona with whom I had danced earlier in the evening came over and started talking to David (another St. Mary’s person) and I. She is a priest who circulates throughout the local parishes helping out, and with her partner Jerry, had lived for several years in the Netherlands. We had a great time discussing Holland and feminist theology for a while, until I looked at my watch and discovered it was time to go home to phone our kids and wish them a Happy Easter.

After having said good bye to various new and old friends, we walked out, only to discover that it was misting outside. We caught the number 66 bus and took it down to Hyndland Road. Walking the rest of the way home, I felt happy and light in spite of the fine rain falling. We first phoned Brendan, catching up with him (taking it easy on the holiday weekend, trying to figure out what he and Mayumi will be doing this summer). Kenneth hates talking on the phone, but as a special Easter Concession, had consented to talk to us by telephone. This turned out to be less than idea for various reasons, but at least we got in a bit of voice communication before switching over to instant messaging, his preferred medium, as we passed on to him more information about what he needs to be organize for lining up volunteer experience here in Glasgow this summer.

This was our family’s first Easter apart from one another, so it felt important to end the day by touching base with them. Even though we are far away from each other, we are still connected. This morning, Diane compared the day to the memorable Christmas Day we spent with Brendan and Kenneth 5 years ago in Tokyo. We can be together in a faraway place, having adventures that are worth setting down in some, such as a set of photographs, or in this case, a long (perhaps too long) blog entry. We went to bed exhausted but satisfied after a very rich Easter feast of experiences.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Scottish Parliament

Entry for April 7, 2007:

For this week’s Saturday Adventure, we decided to go to Edinburgh. We had invited Mikio and Hokuto along, but they were exhausted from looking for a flat and adjusting to Scotland, so we set off by ourselves.

It took a total of about 90 minutes from walking out of our flat in Hyndland to walking out of Waverly Station in Edinburgh, a comfortable travel time for a day excursion. We decided to walk the Royal mile from the opposite direction, starting with Holyrood Palace. However, when we got there, we were immediately attracted by the unusual lines of the new Scottish Parliament building, completed in 2004, after Scotland re-started its national parliament in 1999. We saw a few things after that, most notably St. Giles Cathedral (including the Thistle Chapel), the Scottish Parliament Building was the most interesting and inspiring.

As Americans, it has been difficult for us to understand what the Scottish Parliament is and does. By a process called devolution, many domestic law-making powers have farmed out to the Scottish Parliament, although foreign policy and defense and various other issues are reserved for British Parliament. There is an election for Scottish Parliament on 3 May of this year, the current parliament was dissolved a few days ago (on April 2), and the newspapers are full of stories on campaigns, polls, and the positions of the various political parties, of which there are many, including Labour, Liberal Democrats (these two currently form the ruling coalition), Scottish National Party (which favors greater devolution and even full independence), the Conservatives, the Green Party, and various others.

From an American point of view, there are lots of interesting things about the Scottish Parliament beyond its multi-party system. Actually, devolution is one of the more understandable and familiar aspects, since it echoes the American Federal system, with its many state legislatures with specific devolved powers.

Particularly interesting is the composition of the Scottish Parliament. Although it is a unicameral body, it has two sets of MSPs (Members of Scottish Parliament). In election, voters cast two votes: one for a specific person to represent their constituency or district (their local MSP) and a second for a political party. There are 73 “constituency MSPs,” and 56 other “list MSPs". The latter are sets of 7 MSPs selected for each of 8 different regions of Scotland (of which the City of Glasgow is one), such that the overall representation in Scottish Parliament (including consitituency MSPs) matches the proportion of votes for each party. This ensures representation for the smaller parties; its technical name of “Mixed Member Proportional Representation.” I have to say that this system sounds refreshingly different from the American system which feels cumbersome, hidebound and polarizing! We’ll have to see how it actually works out…

The other really different thing is the Scottish Executive, which I have been hearing about for months. I have asked people what it is, because it seems to have a lot of power, but I’ve never been able to get a straight answer. The way it had been explained to me was that it is kind of like the civil service or, alternatively, as the tour guide explained today, a form of cabinet. In the US, the cabinet is part of a separate arm of the government, appointed by President (and confirmed by the Senate); however, as I learned today, this is not the case here; the Scottish Executive consists of MSPs… because there is no separate here between legislative and executive branches of government. This was a wonderful and helpful insight.

… Except that it was wrong! Or at least incomplete. Come to find out (thanks to Wikipedia!), due to what appears to me to have been a flaw in the Scotland Act, there are two different Scottish Executives, one of which is the executive committee of the Scottish Parliament, and the other of which is the branch of the British civil service that serves the executive committee of Scottish Parliament. No wonder I got vague answers! The situation is genuinely confusing! The executive committee of Scottish Parliament wants to call itself the Scottish Government, but it can’t do so officially, without a change in the Scotland Act that created the devolved Scottish Parliament in the first place. Hmm… I guess the Scottish political system isn’t so rational after all…

But the building is beautiful, 21st century, organic, even more so than Frank Gehry, whose favoring of titanium and other shiny metals gives his buildings more of science fiction feel. This feels more natural and better tied to its geographic and political-cultural context. The Scottish Parliament Building is full of wood and stone and concrete formed into leaf-shapes, with tree motifs and echoes, full of asymmetries and twists, references to other buildings, symbolic representations (e.g., the figures on the wall of the debating chamber, which represent the people watching their MSPs). The building felt good to us, and was the high point of this week’s Saturday Adventure.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Holy Week: Music and Sore Feet

Entry for 6 April 2007:

Over the past week, we have been inundated by religious rituals and music on the radio and in church, including at least three different musical versions of the Passion/ Crucifixion story, including a couple of Bach Passions (missed the Arvo Part, unfortunately), and finally tonight Stainer’s The Crucifixion (1887), a couple of Tenebraes (music for Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services emphasizing darkness and the intense emotional aspects of this part of the Christian narrative), lots of Bach cantatas (he was Composer of the week on BBC Radio 3), and various hymns and readings. By the end of tonight’s Good Friday concert of the Stainer, we had completely overdosed on it all.

This doesn’t happen in America, where Easter feels mostly like a secular holiday with easter eggs/baskets/candy/bunnies/dresses, and you have to go out of your way to hear Easter music. Even National Public Radio doesn’t play that much of it, and it turns to get interleavened with Passover material. Secular universities don’t close for Good Friday, and Easter Monday is not a general holiday So you have to go out of your way to obtain a full-immersion Easter Experience.

We also walked/run for miles and miles today. I ran 8 or 9 miles again, along the canal (and around Port Dundas and past the huge Asian market on Saracen Road, then down the River Kelvin to the Transportation Museum). We walked to and from the place that was fixing our car; to and from one of the places Mikio was interested in, and to church tonight for the concert. Creating a new family rule, we decided that after walking 5 miles in one day it was OK to take a taxi home.

Bach was on the radio again (or still). Off he went, leaving blessed silence.

I think we’re ready for Easter…

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mikio and Hokuto Arrive

Entry for 4 April 2007:

Mikio Shimizu is a professor of psychology from Hosei University in Tokyo, here for a year’s sabbatical, to learn about how we do training and research. He and his son Hokuto arrived last week and are learning their way around Glasgow. Diane and I have been doing our best to orient them and help them get set up.

Mikio is gentle, friendly, helpful man, just a couple of years older than I am. He says he’s shy, but he’s actually better at small talk than I am. Diane and I find him quite charming. He is extremely considerate of others. I feel that he has a lot of integrity and shows a mix of hard work and good humor similar to what I try to cultivate for myself. He and I share a common academic background: Both of us have been teaching in psychology departments for many years and are enjoying our time away from that. Mikio is particularly interested in learning about how we do therapy/ counseling training here, and also how we supervise and do applied research.

He introduced his 25-year-old son Hokuto by explaining that Hokuto’s name means “7 stars in the north” (I gather this refers to what we call Ursa Major, or the Big Dipper.) Hokuto is a bit shy but friendly enough. He has just completed his training as master of the tea ceremony, or as he explained to us tonight, the Way of Tea, a discipline which tries to imbue with meaning and significance all aspects of the preparation and serving of traditional Japanese green tea. We are looking forward to hearing more about this, especially its connections to Gestalt therapy, which Hokuto plans to study when he goes on to graduate school in psychology.

The two of them are currently staying in student accommodations next to Partick Thistle Football Club, and mostly traveling around by bus. We are currently helping them look for a better place to live. They came for dinner tonight, and we had a lovely evening together, getting to know each other better. It’s really nice to be able to use our recent experiences here to help ease their transition, and we are looking forward to many interesting discussions and times together.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Palm Sunday in Glasgow

Entry for 1 April 2007:

Today, at St. Mary's, for the Palm Sunday Passiontide reading, the congregation read the part of Jesus. This is the first time I have ever seen it done this way. A relief after years of having to say, "Crucify him"! After church, we met more American expatriots, appropriately named John and Paul, since they are each recently hired faculty members in New Testament studies. This must be part of the American Brain Drain, of which I am a member as well. John, who teaches at the International Christian College, in the Cit Centre, was fascinated by my account of person-centred/experiential therapy, which he had never heard of, although he wondered if it is related to "personalistic ethics" and the philosopher Levinas. However, it turned out that he had lived/worked for several years in Leuven and knew of or had taken a class from Mia Leijssen's brother, Lambert.

Then we went on a Walk between our three sister parishes: Lansdown (Church of Scotland = Presbyterian), St. Columba's (Roman Catholic), and finally back to St. Mary's. St. Columba's is the church I have looking for for awhile, as it is where James MacMillan works -- it turns out that it is near the Canal, which means that I have been running past it regularly, (yet another example of my not seeing things in front of me). St. Columba's has a charming mural at the back of the church, including a panel of the Saint baptizing converts at what I assume to be Loch Ness, since there is a Nessie in the distance! Don't know if the famous serpent/ plesiosaur was there to be baptized, or just for local color…

At each place, there was a hymn, a reading and a prayer. The people of the three parishes mingled along the way. Diane had a very nice visit with an older woman named Kathleen from St. Columba's, who had lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years. Along the way, we were accompanied by two police, one male and one female, who had been assigned to watch over us. They helpfully blocked traffic on Maryhill Road, one of the major roads in this part of Glasgow, so we could cross on our walk to and from St. Columba's. According to Kelvin, today is the first day of a new law requiring all groups of people on organized marches to be accompanied by police in order to prevent sectarian violence. The fact that we were an interdenominational group of Catholics and Protestants apparently made no difference, since the authorities apparently wanted to know how many fife bands etc. would be part of our procession and felt it necessary to provide a police presence to prevent violence. I don't think there was a place on the application for the guy carrying the wooden cross!

It was a fine sunny, Sunday afternoon, but still a bit chilly outside. After lunch, we sat for a good part of the afternoon in our lounge, toasty warm with the sun beaming in. Diane drifted off over a book she is reading for a study group at St. Mary's: Miss Garnet's Angel, by Sally Vickers. I could hear children outside playing.