In obedience to lots of good advice (and even a sermon preached to myself) I've just spent a very restorative couple of days...
On Thursday I had a yummy pub supper with a friend, whose parishes run down the eastern bank of the Severn - and she took me to see my first Severn Bore.
It was a lovely calm evening, with the river flowing gently towards the sea (as rivers are, after all, wont to do) when the flow was broken by the wave of the bore coming upstream...Even from some distance we could hear it (though it was more a loud purr than the sort of roaring that Thomas Hardy described) and to watch it was quite extraordinary. Something in the contrast between the calm of the evening and the inexorable progress of the wave up the river was irresistable. Some surfers caught the wave and rode upstream for a while, and though I was assured that this was just a two-star bore, so not that remarkable, I was really delighted by it. No drama, no hype - it just was!
The following day the holiday continued, as I caught a train to London to catch up with friends. The very act of getting on a train takes me back to childhood expeditions, so the whole thing felt like an adventure from the start. Add to that the joy of being in a special place with lovely people, absolutely no responsibility for anything beyond being there and open to happy things and the result was just blissful.
A long long time ago, when I was busy working my way round the Greater London Choral Circuit I would take Sunday afternoons off to sit in the congregation at St Paul's. I wasn't quite sure what I was doing there, but knew I felt more human afterwards. Even on the busiest summer afternoons, there seemed to be a quality of space and stillness from which I derived strength without really knowing why.
Later I attended ordinations there, struggling (this was the late 1980s, and I was a long way away from those who were praying and working, campaigning and praying some more so that doors might be opened to enable women to respond as God called them to priesthood) with a sense that somehow this connected to me. This morning I attended a beautiful early Mass and all was very good.
Best of all, the sense of calm and deep happiness has accompanied me all the way home. Typically after a retreat, it runs out by the time I've unloaded the first lot of laundry and realised that nobody has got round to doing the dishes from yesterday breakfast. This evening, I'm still purring gently.
Thank you, God.