Friday, March 31, 2006

John Donne Good Friday 1613 Riding Westward

LET man's soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th' intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl'd by it.
Hence is't, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul's form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul's, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg'd and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God's partner here, and furnish'd thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom'd us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They're present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look'st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang'st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I'll turn my face.

A growing morning.

It’s a mixed blessing to have the diocesan retreat house actually in your own parish. When I was there last, on my ordination retreat, I was terrified that if I stepped outside the grounds I might run straight into a member of St M’s congregation, just when I was trying to concentrate on me and God, rather than indulging my huge talent for worrying about other people…And it can be sad not to go properly "away" when there are chapter "away days". I can almost see this house from Glenfall's garden.
However, there’s not a lot I can do about it, and sometimes it feels rather a privilege.
This was the certainly the case when I was phoned to ask if I’d be willing to lead one of their Lenten Eucharists…I was happy to accept and perfectly calm about the whole thing until last night, when the phone rang again, with the news that WonderfulBishop was likely to be part of a very small congregation.

At this point all my insecurities kicked in with full force. I realised that I’d only once celebrated the Eucharist outside St M’s (and though I don’t love every aspect of the way we do it here, it is at least familiar), that it was less than a year since WB (who is a seriously good liturgist) had taken the time and trouble to give us a morning’s training on how to celebrate,and (for no good reason) that I was almost certainly doing everything All Wrong. What’s more, I’m so young in ministry, I was struggling with the concept of speaking words of absolution and blessing to my seniors like this….My theology can deal with it just fine, - but, emotionally it felt a tad presumptuous.
I wandered around the house bleating about my general inadequacy till DarlingDaughter said, with just a touch of acerbity,
“It’s the Eucharist, Mummy. It’s what you DO. And you always come home purring…”

Fast forward to this morning. Overnight rain cleared to blue skies, birds and daffodils seemed in competition to proclaim it indisputably spring and I realised I’d actually slept rather well, despite everything.
And of course, it was fine.
More than fine, actually.
I’d gone straight from that chapel to the Cathedral last July and not been to a Eucharist there since, so it felt very much a continuum…AND what’s more, today the church remembers John Donne, whose Hymne to God the Father was part of a very important moment of encounter (blogged here), which I hang onto at difficult times.
So many blessed moments came together and there at the heart of them all was the Eucharist.
So, not a mixed blessing after all.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

This week's view

comes from the other side of town, but was just as therapeutic.
I'd been intending to present an aerial view of the racecourse, to whet the appetite of Greenbelt friends (or strike terror into the heart, if you're one of the amazing people who puts the whole Festival together)...but the cloud formation was so wonderful that I got sidetracked.
ENFP again! Sorry :-)

Dog day

I’ve been wondering whether poor Dillon
the evil Jack Russell gets an unfairly bad
press on this site…so just to redress the balance here is photgraphic evidence that even ADHD dogs relax sometimes.
This bout of inertia was achieved after a splendidly blusterywild and woolly walk on Cleeve Common, where both dogs chased endless rabbits with no success whatsoever, because, after all, that’s what terriers do.

They also chased magpies and skylarks, since they are obstinate in their refusal to believe that running faster will not one day finally give them wings.
To my relief, they stopped short of chasing golfers, mainly because they failed to notice the presence of balls. D in particular is an obsessive-compulsive where balls of any kind are concerned, but we managed to follow a route that avoided most of the holes, and I resorted to the lead when it all looked too tempting.. Clearly this means that both Dillon and Mufti now join the ranks of those who see the game of golf as "a good walk spoiled". They were also prevented, by a very determined fence, from investigating some extremely charming young cattle, who were equally interested in getting to know us. I've no idea of their breed, but they were clearly the bovine equivalent of saddle-back pigs, and boasted delightfully long and fluffy coats, more at home in the toyshop than on the hillside.
I enjoyed myself too, though having grown-up by the sea I still tend to feel that a howling gale is rather wasted anywhere else. Cleeve feels so like the South Downs in some ways, but with this crucial omission. Wish there were ever time to get as far as the sea on days off, - but the need to collect boys from school when I can gives a rather short day. Not to worry. It was still lovely, though of course, being me, I would have welcomed more conversation than the dogs were offering!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

On being known

Last week I had an interview with my Bishop.
A few years ago, even writing that sentence would have reduced me to a gibbering wreck! Bishops, after all, are powerful people with huge influence over the fate of very junior curates who would rather like to remain in the diocese. Bishops have by definition got their act together theologically (at least enough to get by in most situations!). Bishops meet and mingle with the Great and the Good on a daily basis,- heavens, if Bishops aren’t the Great and the Good themselves, then I’m not sure who is!
And though I’m madly extrovert in terms of being inspired, excited and sustained above all by the people I encounter, I’m not actually particularly confident in many social situations,so I would have expected the prospect of an episcopal interview to strike terror.
Not a bit of it.
In fact, I was vaguely perplexed that those who knew where I was heading last Thursday afternoon wished me good luck before I went, and my uncharacteristic lack of fear was proved to be entirely reasonable. I didn't find myself the subject of an episcopal grilling because WonderfulBishop, who ordained me both as deacon and priest and honestly does represent for me, my “Father in God”, knows me very well. Somehow he has achieved this from a standing start, since he only appeared in this diocese a month before my diaconal ordination. I remember leaving my first encounter with him (on which occasion I’d arrived well and truly petrified…-after all, there seemed the distinct possibility that I might be “found out” and he would refuse point blank to ordain me!) feeling that in the space of an hour I’d been enabled to emerge from the protective social/professional mask and be myself, Kathryn. It felt, and still feels, perfectly safe.
Of course, when we spoke last week I didn’t burden him with graphic descriptions of life in the raw at the Curate’s house…he’s quite bright enough to imagine that for himself since he has teenagers of his own…but beyond that, there were no no-go areas. It was a genuinely positive encounter, which left me feeling absolutely OK with my place in the grand scheme of things.

Since then I’ve been reflecting on the wonder of being known as I am, and nonetheless tolerated, even loved. As an ENFP, I tend to share far more of myself than is probably either wise or desirable,- this blog is just another example! - and I’m always thrilled, delighted, and a little overwhelmed at the sheer gift of friends,- people who choose to spend time with me, for no good reason except, apparently, that they want to. Even though they know me.
I’m hugely blessed to know so many wonderful people…Just wanted to say that I do appreciate you. Truly. AND the Bishop!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

With love on Mothering Sunday...

Not long home from our Mothering Sunday service, and I have had such a lovely morning….
After a rather low-key event last year we'd decided to go out on a limb and risk drastic trunkating of our regular liturgy, and various family-friendly tweaks (which ought to be the norm each week, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day!). I was then left in a state of frantic anxiety in case no families actually appeared, and the regular congregation felt they’d been diddled out of their normal diet for no good reason.
This morning, the normal vestry nerves were intensified…
Would all the bits hold together? What if everyone voted with their feet and stayed at home? (specially given the unkind twist of the clocks going forward last night)...Had I done enough to include those for whom the day is peculiarly painful?
But it was WONDERFUL
The 1000+ invitations we’d delivered to our baptism families, schools, Brownies, Beavers, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all had clearly had some impact, as there were a good range of families, familiar and unknown, among the congregation as we processed in. The cuts in the liturgy left no gaping voids. The two mothers we interviewed as the prologue to the talk rose to the occasion like troupers and the thoughts that followed seemed to go down well too. Using Hosea 11, I talked about the huge gap between the tv image of mothering and the grisly reality of domestic life at the Curate’s house…I talked about the ways in which God mothers us through other people, and our responsibility to pass on the love we receive, and above all about the reality of unconditional love available all the time. EVERYONE received flowers and simnel cake, and a fair few chose to light candles for missing mothers or children at the station I’d made by the statue of Our Lady.
It was all lovely, honestly. A fair few tears at Communion, but that felt good too…
And after the service, my totally mad and rather delightful children went the length and breadth of Charlton Kings giving stray flowers to all and sundry, sticking them on car windscreens or entwining them through gates. Goodness knows what people will make of that, but perhaps it will raise a smile.
Meanwhile,I'm off to eat chocolate...there seems to be rather alot of it about the place, mostly with my name on it. Have a lovely afternoon, everyone, and feel loved and celebrated.

The Good in Parts offspring were here....can you spot the daffodil?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Annunciation

Good morning!
You're beautiful with God's beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.

Luke 1:27/28 The Message

Friday, March 24, 2006

Heart to Heart

Is the title of a rather wonderful multi sensory prayer activity, devised by Chris and Sheila Chesterton…
Back in the autumn, I attended a training morning in which they outlined it, together with other resources they'd developed, and it seemed to me that this sort of approach might be very helpful in getting beneath the guard of some at St M’s, who tend to fence God round with liturgy and ritual so that it’s clear he is very dangerous indeed.
I spoke to Chris, who agreed that though it had been envisaged for an all-age family day, it could be adapted for an evening slot during our Lent course on prayer…and we arranged to talk after Christmas.
Only, just before Christmas Chris, our diocesan Children’s Officer, died very suddenly.
His many friends in the diocese and beyond all mourned, and wondered how we could support Sheila. Once the first shock was absorbed, I assumed that this would mean a re-jigging of our Lent programme…only to find that Sheila, being an amazing lady in all sorts of ways, had other ideas.
So, on Wednesday she came to St M’s to lead an evening, based on the material they had developed together…the first time she’d done so since Chris’s death. And it was splendid.
Heart to Heart is an acrostic based on the premise that prayer is a 2 way conversation…We Honour God, Enquire what his wants of us, Apologise (I seem to be doing that rather a lot at the moment) Request his help and Trust and Thank him….
In return, he has High Hopes of us, Encourages and Accepts us, Reminds us of his rules and Transforms us.
That possibly sounds either contrived, cheesey or both…but the reality really works. Particular highlights were joining our rather staid, and definitely post middle aged course attenders, as we stood in a circle in age order (lots of giggling as we swapped and swapped again, till we were all sorted) and passed a crown from head to head, reminding us of the treasure in store….And the joyful experience of giving each other stickers to encourage….a wonderful opportunity to find something to affirm in everyone there. By the time that activity was over, everyone was proudly sporting several awards of the type generally found in primary school exercise books…I transferred mine to my computer monitor today and am delighted to report that at least someone thinks I am not just “very good” but "excellent" too…and that I have "done well"….
Again, it sounds potentially naff but was a hugely positive experience for everyone.
To support this input, Sheila created a series of prayer stations in church, which we left up and running till tonight. Confounding my gloomy assumptions, quite a range of unlikely people were prepared to give these a go, even if they later confessed to me that "all this touchy feely stuff left them cold",- so I'm left feeling deeply grateful, - to both the Chestertons for their vision and creativity, and to Sheila for her courage in going ahead with the evening.

A year ago, nobody at St Mary's had ever experienced this kind of non verbal,right-brain type of prayer...but now they've had no less than 3 prayer trails set out in church, and they seem to feel braver every time. At this rate, we'll be able to let God out of the Box before we're too much older. Deo gratias!

This is just silly :-)

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

Thanks to Spidey for the link

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Some serious navel gazing...

Or thus, I'm sure, the poor LongsufferingClockmaker would describe it. He could well have a point...
You see, following on from the preaching experience, I’ve been thinking a bit more about how personality can help or hinder in ministry. I don’t mean the obvious, that you will connect better with some of your congregation than others, simply because you are who you are. It’s rather a question of how far it is appropriate or desirable to use oneself, and the relationship that exists with the congregation, when leading worship. I don’t expect I’m making any sense, so let me do a bit more digging.
I guess this is something that has been at the back of my mind for a while, but it was brought into sharp focus by the experience of leading that London funeral 2 weeks ago. At the “do” afterwards, several people said things like “I could cope with it all as long as you were speaking…you held me together….”
And I’ve been trying to work out quite what is going on here. I worry that somehow by being as “me” as I was, I was somehow getting in between those people and the God who was there pouring love and consolation into the whole situation. I know I can’t lead worship as anyone except myself, and I would be totally unable to manage the kind of remote and impersonal style I remember from some AngloCatholic priests of my childhood (who would also remove their wedding ring in the vestry, as a sign of this negation of self), even if I felt that this was the right thing (which I don’t). I know that loving my congregation and being loved by them is part of our being church together.
But God forbid, please, that anyone should get so embroiled in relating to me that they forget to look any further
Reading that, it sounds incredibly arrogant. How could I ever imagine that they might?
And yet, I do know that when I’m having a totally blissful time celebrating the Eucharist there are some there who are at least partly enjoying me enjoying the experience. It’s another manifestation of the great trap for clergy of being needed and loved and loved and needed. To use our whole selves to attract people to God seems fine (isn't that sometimes known as witnessing??)…to have a life so shaped by Him that it inspires others would be totally wonderful…but how does one ensure that people do make the whole journey? There are too many stories of maiden ladies of bygone years who went to church to worship the vicar, and though I’m not talking about exactly the same thing, there are some disturbing similarities.
So, how do I get myself out of the way,- while being true to the understanding that God has called me to ministry, to be myself for Him?
Or shouldn’t I even expect to?

Glad tidings.

Norman Kember and the remaining peace activists are free. Full story here
And amid all the rejoicing, renewed prayers for the friends and family of Tom Fox.
It seems specially cruel that he should have been singled out to die. I do hope that those who love him share the faith and principles that inspired him to offer himself thus, and that they will be of comfort.

Another poem for Joseph

Serena wanted to know the origin of “The Handyman of the Lord”…which I quite agree is a wonderful phrase, with such a ring of truth to it.
I have a lovely anthology “The Christmas Road”, which was a gift from my former vicar…and in it appears this gem, the creation of a four year old who was singing to her doll. Hugely unseasonal, but if I wait till a more appropriate time of year, I’ll forget all about it. So, please just suspend your chronological faculties for the moment.

When the baby borned
Joseph said to Mary
“What am I going to do about
This little-born Jesus baby Christ?
I never knew it was going to be like this
With all these angles and kings
And shepherds and stars and things.
It’s got me worried, I can tell you
On Christmas day in the morning.”

Mary said to Joseph
“Not to worry, my darling
Dear old darling Joseph,
Everything’s going to be all right
Because the angel told me not to fear;
So just hold up the lamp
So I can see the dear, funny, sweet, little face
Of my darling little-born Jesus baby Christ.”

Joseph said to Mary
“Behold the handyman of the Lord”

Happy Christmas, Happy Christmas,
Christ is born today.

I wonder what happened to that child. I wish I could write like that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A better perspective

As you may have deduced from the thinly disguised hysteria in recent posts, I've been feeling rather overwhelmed at the sheer busy-ness of Lent this year. (Please note, I say "This year" because I am fully determined not to get drawn into quite such mania ever again. I know it's neither healthy nor sustainable and both WonderfulVicar and I plan to refuse to play next time round: and yes, please DO hold me accountable...I need it)
Part of the problem has been that I've not had a full day off, for my very own self, since Lent started, as our Lent talks (which I arranged) had to be on Wednesday evenings. Add to this the Wedneday funeral in London, the trip to Cardiff (lovely, but stressful thanks to the car) and a general sense that there is stuff that I should be getting on with whichever way I turn, at home and in the parish, and one way and another I was really REALLY longing to get right out of Ch Kings and take the dogs for a serious walk somewhere this Wednesday. Sounds good, doesn't it?
However, sadly LongsufferingClockmaker's car obviously felt that mine had been getting too much attention, and had a breakdown of its very own while he was visiting customers in London yesterday, and had to be brought home on an RAC recovery wagon. This meant in turn that LC needed my car to get himself to work and the boys to school. And no, there was no hope that his car might be repaired in time for me to go off somewhere later in the day, if I went in with him and hung around his workshop (not something I enjoy anyway, as it feels odd being just across the garden from our house, but not actually living there).
Cue very unedifying tantrum (clearly the whole thing had been engineered just to spite me! it's obvious, isn't it?!) and a sulky start to the day off.
But it's definitely spring today, so even I couldn't just sit in the dark in the corner of my stable muttering about dirty straw and cobwebs...The dogs and I set out following a woodland footpath we use quite often. Generally we run out of time and have to retrace our steps as the path begins to climb, but today we went on, till we emerged from the trees onto open hillside. At this point, having guided me through a kissing gate, the footpath signs left me stranded in a field with no obvious exit route, so I put the dogs on the lead just in case we were suddenly trespassing. 30 seconds later I was so glad we had. A deer emerged from behind a clump of gorse, all of 20 yards away from us...It was intent on its grazing, and didn't notice us for almost a minute, then Dillon (ADHD JackRussell) awoke to the reality that I was thwarting his pursuit of something far more exciting than a tennis ball and let out his (all-too characteristic) frantic bark...and it was gone. With unimaginable grace,-it's hooves barely touching the turf. Breathtaking.

As was the view spread out below me in the spring sunshine. All those houses, offices, many many people hurtling around in their daily routines....but from the hillside all seemed calm, even in the parish of St Mary's, Charlton Kings.
I'm glad I couldn't escape as completely as I'd planned. Staying put but getting a fresh perspective was far more helpful.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I don't believe it!

One week ago, I blogged the nightmare of a diary wiped completely, as if its contents had never been.
On Saturday, having received the 2006 filofax diary insert from SPCK, I spent a frustrating couple of hours writing up all my engagements for the next few months and reminding myself how it feels to carry around a bulging folder...
Today, at 5.25 precisely, LoudBoy, who had been playing with the Psion shrieked
"Mummy, I've found your diary!"
Somehow, for some unfathomable reason, the psion had elected to open a new diary on top of my original...It wasn't until LoudBoy was trying to get rid of all my files before taking over the psion as an extra techie toy that this new diary, untouched by curate's hand, was persuaded to depart....leaving my original sitting happily below. It's ALL THERE.
Every. Last. Word.
I know I ought to be happy (specially if we really can persuade one of the PCs on our network to accept the psion software, so that backing up is a real option) but actually this feels like the unkindest cut of all. If it's broken, I don't want it fixed just after I've worked out an alternative action plan. So, excuse me but I'm going off to my sulking spot. It looks very comfy tonight.

Behold the handyman of the Lord!

As a mother who has rather grabbed the limelight when it comes to parenting, and who is verily married to an extremely LongsufferingClockmaker, it's been good to spend a little time today thinking about Joseph. Our diocesan Praying through Lent resource had a splendid reflection by Doug Gay, which you'll find at Mark's Dissonant Bible blog* .....and Mark's whole idea of J skulking round the corner seemed all too likely and real. Here's U.A. Fanthorpe's take on the man, which has given me plenty to ponder today.

I am Joseph, carpenter,
Of David’s kingly line,
I wanted an heir, discovered
My wife’s son wasn’t mine.

I am an obstinate lover,
Loved Mary for better or worse.
Wouldn’t stop loving when I found
Someone Else came first.

Mine was the likeness I hoped for
When the first-born man-child came
But nothing of him was me, I couldn’t
Even choose his name.

I am Joseph who wanted
To teach my own boy how to live.
My lesson for my foster son:
Endure. Love. Give.

Oh rejoice with exceeding great joy! Mark is blogging again on both his sites...if he keeps it up, I might even forgive him for changing diocese ;-)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Kill the inner editor?

That's the motto of the wonderful writing courses that DarlingDaughter attends at Kilve Court each spring. Ironically, when it's applied to her creative writing, the intention is to encourage her to write as she feels, without constantly worrying that content or style are not, somehow, "good enough"...but the words were floating around in the ether at St M's this morning, with a rather different intent.
You see, I had an interesting, if not particularly pleasant conversation with someone after Eucharist,- the gist of which was that I had, in my sermon this morning, been guilty of distorting Scripture to suit my own ends…
At the time this felt like an outrageous thing to say, something that hit me at the very heart of my integrity as a minister of God, and I struggled not to get really upset.(managed not to show it, which felt like a major achievement in itself!) I was all too aware that there was another agenda coming into play during the conversation (as it has done too often before), which had nothing whatsoever to do with my words from the pulpit, butall the same, it has made me think about the degree to which our preaching is inevitably shaped by the concerns that are foremost in our minds and hearts.
When I’m preparing a sermon, I read the text, I pray, I read commentaries, I read lectionary blogs, I pray, I read some more and pray again…I carry the text around with me for the best part of a week…I don’t, ever, consciously start by thinking “Ah hah…now, I can use this text to support my views on X or my plans for Y” or even “I’ll preach on this, because it’s all about….”
I really and truly do my utmost to hear what God would like me to find, what he wants me to say to those people at that time…that, of course, is why the morning’s comments hurt so much.

But despite this, of course, there’s no denying that I do make choices as a sermon develops. From the moment that I decide to preach on the Gospel rather than the Epistle or the Old Testament passage, I’m committing myself to a particular path…and it’s impossible not to exercise some sort of editorial process as I begin to write. I can’t totally banish myself, my personality, my concerns from my writing or from my preaching.
I don’t actually believe that God wants me to. If he called me, Kathryn, to minister in his church, then there must be some bits of Kathryn that he thinks are worth using.
That doesn’t give me the right to ride rough shod over the text when preparing a sermon, but I’m hugely aware of the dangerous responsibility inherent in all preaching, and believe you me, I don’t ever approach it lightly.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Henri Nouwen does it again

There are many forms of poverty: economic poverty, physical
poverty, emotional poverty, mental poverty, and spiritual
poverty. As long as we relate primarily to each other's
wealth, health, stability, intelligence, and soul strength,
we cannot develop true community. Community is not a talent
show in which we dazzle the world with our combined gifts.
Community is the place where our poverty is acknowledged and
accepted, not as something we have to learn to cope with as
best as we can but as a true source of new life.

Living community in whatever form - family, parish,
twelve-step program, or intentional community - challenges
us to come together at the place of our poverty, believing
that there we can reveal our richness.

Scary stuff...but I'd love to try.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A good week for wipe-outs

Having just emerged from a really tough Lent study group, in which I talked far too much and failed to help either of the group members who had Big Issues they needed to explore, I then managed to wipe the 3/4 of a (rather poor) sermon I've spent most of today producing.
And tomorrow I have a wedding couple in the morning and a sister in law's birthday in the evening, and tons too much other stuff to fit in along the even if the sermon deserved obliteration, I've not really got the time to rewrite it (so, naturally, I'm blogging the disaster instead of getting on with remedying it)

In other news,
  • the car needs not just a new fan but a whole new cooling unit (or some such...all I can see is the pound signs)
  • DarlingDaughter has reached at least a temporary decision re uni's...won't post anything till she has sent off the forms, in case she changes her mind, but it would be lovely if this one worked out.
  • And her gap year travel is now being delayed by, of all things, a dental appointment...but she seems to be about to commit herself finally to teaching in Thailand. Hooray.
  • The filofax diary with lectionary arrived today and is HUGE and reminded me instantly why I gave up on this medium. I don't want to always have to carry around a ton of paper.Will stick it out till the end of the year, and see how things feel then...but expect to revert to a.n.other electronic organiser (that WILL talk to my computer) once we hit Advent.
  • Oh, and I've given up giving up alcohol...I'll do without gin, chocolate and fiction but right now I need a glass of wine. Sorry Tony, if you're reading this. I'm just too feak and weeble to stay the course. Think I need a retreat. Soon.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I don't think we do decisions here...

This time last year, I shared my distress that DarlingDaughter had no university offers that seemed right for her. Now she has the opposite, but equally perplexing problem of trying to choose between two equally wonderful options. It’s agony!
So today we set off for Cardiff…Nearer to home, and by the sea,- but would the English department prove as exciting as Leeds?
In the event, the trip there was a great deal too exciting, as it involved an overboiling radiator and a longish wait for the heroic RAC (who did a splendid job of both problem solving and Kathryn soothing when they did arrive). But we were stranded beside a lovely wooded bank, and to my delight primroses were out in force, so spring really must be about to happen….

We arrived too late for all the official tours, but the head of the School of English gave us coffee and chocolate biscuits (the swine…I can resist anything except temptation) and answered all our questions, as opposed to those which it might have been assumed we would be asking. He could not have been kinder or more persuasive. The course looks wonderful…and those lecturers we met are obviously hugely enthused by their subject. Campus good. Cardiff itself a joy.
Poor L. It really is an embarrassment of riches. She longs to have her cake and eat it…While Cardiff appeals to her creative romantic side (it even offers a module on Medieval Arthurian poetry, for heaven’s sake! And one on children’s literature!), Leeds would fire-up the party girl who really thrives on lots of indie music and enjoys the buzz of the city. And they are both huge and important parts of her being,- and both need feeding…
When we left the uni, we pottered happily around the city centre…fell in love all over again with the castle…spent far too much in “Shared Earth” – a lovely Fair Trade shop that made me long for summer and Greenbelt all over again. We ate Divine Orange chocolate, and before winding our way happily home up the Wye valley and through the Forest of Dean. It’s a journey I could imagine becoming very fond of, if I had the opportunity.

Have a GOOD day!

This was the heading of the poster on the wall, showing a cartoon monk surrounded by the full timetable of monastic hours which he was bound to keep…
The children looked, open-mouthed for a second or two (all that praying!), then ran off giggling to get into costume.
I had joined a year 4 class from CK Primary School at the climax of their history/RE project on the medieval church, and we had come in character as a band of pilgrims to Gloucester Cathedral.It was interesting to watch them adapt to their roles (which they have been getting to know these for a week or two) and interact with each other,- the “Wife of Bath” widow on another man-hunt, the knight back from the wars to thank God for his deliverance, the cut-purse whose roguery caused genuine disruption as the morning progressed.
The education department staff are superb and led a fascinating tour, showing us forgotten corners and delights that the casual visitor would miss (well, this one certainly had). I feel very much at home in Gloucester Cathedral. After all, it’s the site of both my ordinations, of my children’s confirmations, of countless other special celebrations and many a God-moment, and much of my training took place in its comfortable shadow. But yesterday was quite different.
There were awestruck moments, as the children touched mason’s marks on the great pillars in the nave, and felt themselves connected through their fingertips with men who had lived and worked here so many centuries before.
There was a corporate shock, as they looked at the carving of the apprentice-boy who fell to his doom from the high scaffolding, and saw that the carving above his head exactly matched that far far above their own…
“Did it really happen right here?”…and they looked down, half expecting to see his crumpled body lying at their feet.
There was a moment in St Andrew’s chapel, with its Victorian reproduction of the glorious paintwork of the medieval church, when they were asked as all good pilgrims were to spend a moment in silent repentence,- and I was caught by happy surprise when I was invited to stand and pronounce words of forgiveness as they had been spoken so often before. And another moment of unexpected holiness when they arrived at the tomb of Edward II, the goal of the medieval pilgrims, and were invited to offer the artefacts they had brought with them, and spend a moment or two imagining the prayers they might have offered at the shrine. The first two or three groups were perfunctory, but gradually the time the children spent kneeling grew longer and the silence more profound.
We’d reached the end of our pilgrimage experience but nobody was in a hurry to return to the 21st century. As we walked back to the education centre, to make cockle shell badges, devise our own mason’s mark and write a pilgrim prayer on our footprint, we sang a pilgrim song together.
“You are older than the world can be
You are younger than the life in me
Ever old and ever new
Keep me travelling along with you.

Monday, March 13, 2006

You have to laugh.....I think

Fresh from the disasterous revelation that my diary has ceased to be, I went up to Morning Prayer. On Mondays we are using the Bishop's "Praying together in Lent" material in the mornings (complicated pattern means that some days its morning and some evening...which means we have no continuity in the Daily Office lectionary...but I'm not sure it makes that much sense even when we do) and today the prayer topics began
"a right balance between different aspects of our life"
Someone had already suggested that maybe the loss of all my appointments suggested a need to slow down a bit and that perhaps this compulsory space creation was God's way of pointing out to me the need to draw when I read this the hysteria that had been brimming since I discovered the Awful Truth was impossible to contain.
Well, it was either laugh or cry.
Thanks for prayers, entertaining (and beguiling) suggestions as to the content of the diary (trouble is, Caroline, my bank balance seems unaffected by the general white out), and advice from a fellow sufferer...It was helpful to have my instinct confirmed that maybe electronic organisers and I had best part here. I had been havering as to whether to replace the psion (whose software is incompatible with my pc anyway) but as I have no idea why the wipe out happened when all else appears hunky dory, I don't think I could trust the system again. That maybe irrational, but then I'm ENFP so rational isn't in my comfort zone. I have accordingly ordered the lectionary insert for my battered but reliable filofax, and am reverting to pen and ink. At least this way I may not actually forget how to do joined up writing...

Utter disaster!

I've just opened my psion to see what I'm supposed to be doing today...and it's blank! So is tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday.....every single diary entry has been expunged from the face of the earth.
People have muttered darkly about what would happen if I allowed the batteries to run down, but it's not that, as word files and databases survive intact...Somehow, inexplicably, all the diary entries have been deleted.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE if you are expecting me to meet you, phone you or do anything at all with you in the days and weeks me (myname at t*i*s*c*a*l*i*.c*o*.u*k) Or I won't be there.
Need to go and say Morning Prayer now (thank God some things are constants...)but after that will be reading the small print in the manual as never before. Are there any psion users out there who've had this experience and triumphed? I need help. Fast!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Voices and Vision

I promised to write something about this week’s CME "Voices and Vision: some reflections on God , prayer and ministry using the work of some 20th century poets".
With a title like that, nobody will be stunned to hear that I was hugely looking forward to this…
The poets chosen definitely surprised me,- which was an excellent start!
Yes, of course RS Thomas was there, and inspired the sort of discussion that he usually produces. Would he have got through ABM? How did his wife cope?
Is his vision actually Christian or is he so bleak that he has actually stepped outside the Christian framework altogether?
But alongside Thomas were Michael Rosen, Charles Causely (OK, maybe not so surprising) and Joolz.
Amazing stuff, some of it. Windows opened in all directions and I rushed home to place orders with amazon.
Each session was followed by a time to think and react, and we talked about the current belief in story…in having one’s story heard, and finding it thus authenticated… the implicit absolution granted if only someone can spare the time to hear and (crucially) to acknowledge that they have heard.
One piece by joolz concerned a horrific story heard at a party,- the sort of story that you long never to have heard…the sort that you are condemned to carry from this day forth….I remembered the Ancient Mariner, who though freed from the burden of the dead albatross was nonetheless compelled to tell his story endlessly…with no repetition seeming sufficient to bring him the peace and absolution he craved.
I thought about my own need to be heard…to authenticate the glimpses of God, the moments of spiritual reality by sharing them with someone else. That used to worry me so much. Why could I not own an experience until I had shared it with someone else?
And what do I do when they don’t understand its full meaning for me?

That, of course, is the everyday risk of the poet, whose words have a meaning that is something greater than the sum of their parts. He spreads his dreams under our feet, facing the danger that we may quite simply trample them, unheeding as we rush to the end of the line, the end of the sentence, skimming the surface of his words.
I considered poetry as Sacrament…a sign pointing to something so much greater than itself. But sometimes people react as if the words exist only in one dimension, as if they are all that there is, with no wider vistas beyond.
You either get it or you don’t…and that is a risk.
To express truth in poetry is to run the risk that it may remain unrecognised by everyone else…and that will hurt beyond measure.
Another image of incarnation?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Did you say tired?

Clearly it's not yet bedtime for the Curate, whatever I may have hoped..
As you can see, there are 3 infinitely deserving cases already occupying most of the bed.
Please note that the Ginger bed-hog has already assumed his preferred position for excluding secondary humans from the duvet.
Perhaps what I need to do is cultivate the art of both spiritual and physical cat-naps.
I'll let you know!

Whatever happened to the wilderness?

CME today (reflections on poetry, which I'll blog about later...still chasing a few concepts around the place right now) and it was, as ever, good to spend time with the cohort, many of whom have supported and accompanied me since I began training 5 years ago. Someone commented that we all looked ashen, and certainly the prevailing feeling was excessive weariness. Two of us have heavy issues we are carrying for friends or family, but several of us are just wiped out with all the extra Lenten activity. The awful thing is that even as I look at my diary and determine that this is ridiculous and something has to give, I know that it's all good stuff in itself. I really truly and desperately want our people at St M's to engage seriously with wide-ranging approaches to prayer in the weeks ahead, and if my turning up at every housegroup is an essential ingredient in achieving this, then I guess I'm ready to do that too.
I'm determined that the families we will invite to worship on Mothering Sunday should not encounter such a very "churchy" expression of church as prevails 51 Sundays of the year...but that means I have to sort out an alternative liturgy. Then in Holy Week, I know that having practical ways to respond to the Stations of the Cross, and resources to help keep the Maundy Watch more meaningfully are likely to help many,- not least myself. But I'll still have to sit down and do some sensible planning.
All of which means that, in the very period when I should be taking time out to actually hear God, I am instead constantly shrieking to him that I can't cope and need him to rescue me.
So, my question to myself and to the church this Lent is "whatever happened to the wilderness?".
What makes us think that we'll be better at hearing God amid manic busy-ness?
Why does it seem impossible to suggest a fast from extra activity as a Lenten discipline? Dare I suggest that instead of a series of Lent talks next year, we embark on a series of Lent listens...or a parish "do nothing" day?
At gd1, the ecumenical youth service tonight, there was a real quality of stillness as some youngsters read Ps 23, verse by verse...There was a table with all sorts of containers of wash for repentence, to recommit by tracing again a baptismal cross, or to drink
"He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul"
I'm weary tonight, Love. I need to drink deep of you.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Long long week.

I enjoy driving, I really do, but this week I have spent 3 days in succession driving on motorways in bad weather. Having clocked 350 miles today taking DarlingDaughter to an open day courstesy of the English department at Leeds (very impressive course, cool city, but the university campus is far from scenic) I'm not up to much tonight. So I'll leave Our Albert to speak for me and head upstairs for bath and bed. Hat tip to tony for the link.
Normal blogging will be resumed as soon as possible.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

An interesting day!

To start with, I learned something about myself…Yesterday evening, feeling totally overwhelmed by the number of things I have to do, and with no visible means of accomplishing them I wobbled to wonderful vicar, who promptly relieved me of one of them. Thus liberated, I went home, slept and accomplished more in an hour this morning than in the previous day finally finishing all the short term projects (including the one I'd been told to forget about) before I went out. Bizarre. Clearly the secret is to somehow move things into a different compartment, - whereupon they all seem mysteriously manageable, and all is well again.

To London through mist and rain, to take the funeral of Kay, my mother’s favourite cousin, at All Saints Fulham.Lovely church, lovely people, and the funeral itself went well…It was very strange to find myself amid a group of people, for the most part total strangers, some of whom had known my mother well in her youth, some of whom knew quite alot about me…But it was good to reconnect with distant cousins, whom I enjoyed far more now than I had when growing up…and it was very good to feel secure in the person I am now. It may be that because my parents died when I was on the verge of adulthood, I’d never quite confirmed to myself that I had actually arrived there (there are certainly days when it is at best debatable,- ask my nearests and dearests!).Finding myself in this particular context today, doing for that family the things that are so much part of my identity in ministry, I felt that I had somehow passed another milestone.
Not explaining it well, but it was a good experience.
I came home with an amazing painting of Kay’s (which can only be entitled funky nuns), some wonderful family photos (including one with my parents together…Daddy was always behind the camera, so this has huge scarcity value) and another cross for the collection (this one New Zealand silver inlaid with paua shell (conincidentally, matching another pair of Greenbelt earrings). That feels rather special too…I imagine I will wear it quite often.

The first Taste of Prayer was pure joy….lots of story, lots of space, lots of silence…thank you God for my dear friend Judy, who facilitated that encounter and brought us to a depth of prayer together that I think touched everyone.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I ought to go to bed...

but first, here are my responses to St Casserole's "Cross meme".

Do you wear a cross? Yes…constantly. Never without it on an ordinary day.

Is there a particular time or place that you consider wearing a cross?
The only time I DON’T wear it is if I’m wearing a low necked top for an evening out, and want to wear a different piece of jewelry. I wouldn't wear a cross on the outside of my clothes if wearing a collar...much too episcopal!

Where do you wear it?
Around my neck, under my clothes.

What does the cross look like?
Small silver cross (about ½”) with a tiny heart shape cut out at its centre.

Who gave the cross to you or did you choose it?
LoudBoy…who asked me to pick a cross from a page in a catalogue a few Christmasses ago, and then found a pair of earings with the same cut out heart centre at Greenbelt, so that the choice was made for us both.

Is this your favorite cross, if so, why? Yes…I have one other that is special too, a Victorian gold one engraved with a leaf pattern. That belonged to my grandmother, and until recently it was my everyday cross…I once lost it down between some floor boards when visiting a friend at university. We had no idea where it had gone, and I had lost hope that it would ever be recovered when, some months later, her landlord arranged for a surveyor to come to assess the house for dry rot. He lifted the floor boards and lo, twas there. As Anne put it “When I survey the wondrous cross”.
I also have a cross made up of tiny seed pearls in a gilt frame: that one had belonged to my mother- in-law who gave it to me to wear on my wedding day, but it is too fragile to be a constant companion, and spends most of its time in my dressing table drawer. Anyway, I feel happier in silver, and the chain on LoudBoy’s cross is a more comfortable length for normal life…and looks fine with the neckline of most t shirts, - always a bonus.
I also love the presence of the heart at its centre…I always tell children who visit the church that Jesus on the cross is offering the whole world a hug, so that every cross that they see can remind them of how much God loves them. LoudBoy’s little cross emphasises this for me too.

What does wearing a cross mean to you?
A constant reminder of God’s love…something I can touch and remember my identity as his child...a tangible prayer.

"A Taste of Prayer"

is the title of our Lent course this year. Four speakers are each considering a different aspect of/approach to prayer, in the course of a bread and soup supper for Christian Aid. The hope is that some new insights and suggestions may help to raise the profile of prayer as an effective agent of God's transformation in the life of our parish, and I'd envisaged that the Lent groups that are meeting later in the week could simply share their own experiences of the different material that is being offered. However, St M's is deeply wedded to the written word, and there was panic in the air as I told them that "No, I hadn't ordered sufficient copies of the Lent book, because there wasn't one this year."
So this evening I've been looking for discussion starters, pulling assorted books from my shelves and doing a little gentle surfing around the theme " What is prayer?". I'd forgotten just how wonderful Stephen Cottrell's Praying through Life is....the first three chapters provided almost exactly what I needed and I'm going to bed tonight pondering his words
"Prayer is the most natural thing in the world. It can also be the hardest. Because it is relationship it is about letting go and allowing someone else to be at the centre of your life. In so many ways, the human spirit will recoil from this kind of loving. We like to be at the centre ourselves."
And the corresponding quote from Henri Nouwen
“When we are invited to pray, we asked to open our tightly clenched fists and to give up our last coin”
Of course, if your hands are clenched shut, you can neither give nor receive...and it takes courage to risk all on the chance that you are loved. Prayer is never for the faint hearted.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

So this is Sunday!

Just back from Open House…a riotous success, I think (certainly about 50 people appeared, which is always encouraging) though I’m not sure that I got across any of the teaching points, what with microphone problems and a plethora of vocal and active toddlers.There are now several regular families (regular in the sense of getting there at least once every third month!) and I was specially pleased that one mum who came for the first time last month had brought along a friend and her children today. She said she had been telling everyone about it, as she couldn’t believe how welcome the children were…If the only thing that gets through is that everyone is welcome in their Father’s house, and that unconditional love means just that, I will be more than content.

Overall, though, I’m feeling a bit flat today.
Partly this is a result of being well and truly tired…I do appreciate the wisdom of all those who commented that I need to sort out some time off. Believe you me, I know. Unfortunately, because this coming week features three busy busy days spent outside the parish, but not on relaxing things, I’m not likely to do much better for a minute or two,- though Wonderful Vicar is very aware that this needs addressing, and is doing his utmost to clear space for me.
On Wednesday I go to London to take my mother’s cousin’s funeral…which has proved incredibly complex to arrange. But I have to say that the parish of All Saints, Fulham has one of the kindest teams I’ve ever encountered….they have coped amazingly with a series of bizarre requests and queries from an increasingly fraught curate on the other side of the country, and done everything and more to make a tricky situation easier. I can’t praise them too highly.
Before then, I need to write the address, of course, but I also need to produce a series of starter questions on prayer for the follow up groups which are meeting to discuss the input at our Wednesday evening “Taste of Prayer” course. There are a good few rather urgent parish visits to make too, but Thursday sees me at a training day in Birmingham and Friday I get to drive to Leeds, for a university open day. Saturday is CME AND an ecumenical youth event….and then, Lord help us, it’s Sunday again. I’ve booked the padded cell for Wednesday week, and plan to enjoy every second of it.

Meanwhile, though, today is my father’s birthday….I can’t actually absorb the fact that had he lived he would now be in his 90s. He never ever looked his age, even as he fought the cancer that killed him when I was 18. He was the most important person in my universe throughout my childhood and whenever something goes especially well or is especially hard, I still long to fling myself into his arms. I don’t know how he’d have felt about my ordination. He was by way of being a pretty traditional AngloCatholic, I think (certainly, that was the flavour of the church where he was a sidesman throughout my teens) but he was also a man who liked to ask questions, to find out more, to read round.
I like to think that having considered the evidence he would have come down in favour of the ordination of women…but I do wish I was certain.
I do know he would have supported me regardless, and would have basked in the joy that my ministry brings me, just as I know he would have been a delighted and delightful grandfather.
I’m glad that so much of him is evident in my children, specially TeenWonder,- but I still miss him.

In which the curate goes out to play.

This weekend, One Pedestrian, Nearly Time and Reach Out descended upon Gloucestershire, and invited me to come and play….Predictably, Sunday looked pretty hectic, but I was determined to carve out some time on Saturday, and I’m so happy that I did.
It was wonderful to be together, with no hidden complications or other demands on our time…We talked and talked, we ate, we talked, we ate some more….but most of all we laughed.
I don’t know when I was last so hysterical for such a long period. I suspect that the worthies of Painswick and Edge may have been seriously alarmed but we were too far gone to care.
You could blame the space dust. Or the scenery (I was shocked that I take it so much for granted…and glad to experience it afresh through their eyes) Or the mad March days. But on the whole I think I’ll just put it down to the sheer pleasure of being friends together.
Thank you all three. When can we do it again?

Friday, March 03, 2006

"The Outstretched Hand"

My earlier musings on hospitality and its abuse were in part inspired by an outing last week, to a “fresh expression” of church, The Outstretched Hand café in Pentwyn, a deprived housing estate on the outskirts of Cardiff. This was an excellent trip in all sorts of ways. I travelled with the vicar of a nearby parish whom I didn’t know terribly well, and I was happy to have the journey there and back to improve this situation. She’s great, and so was "The Outstretched Hand".

The café/drop in centre is sited in a large shop premises, part of parade of rather run down shops (at least one of which is now closed), which is awaiting development….It’s lovely. Bright yellow walls, a mural of a wonderful tree in one corner, comfy sofas and a play area, as well as a counter and café tables, with books, newspapers and magazines on tap.
Prices are very low, so that it should be possible for everyone to afford at least a coffee and a sandwich (very tasty they were too) but there is no pressure to use the café in order to spend time in the centre. People can spend all day just sitting, keeping warm, enjoying the company with no strings attached.

The project was the vision of one lady, who shared it with a group of friends who had been meeting for some time to pray and explore together, outside any formal denominational structure. Together they have made the vision real. On each table is a copy of their policy statement
“We believe that everyone is a unique part of creation, and as such is to be cherished and valued.
Our aim is for Pentwyn to become a place where everyone is valued and can fufil their own potential and contribute to the community.
Our policy is to welcome everyone who comes here. We hope that you will help us make this a place where everyone feels accepted- a place of welcome in our community.”
Spending a couple of hours there, on a Tuesday in half term, it felt very much as if their aim is being fulfilled. Some young mums with toddlers and school age children lingered at one end of the room, with occasional skirmishes breaking out over the playhouse. A pensioner settled herself on the sofa. People dropped in and left again, but all were welcomed by name.
It felt very good.

But it was also sad, because the project is threatened. There are plans to redevelop the shopping parade and it seems unlikely that "The Outstretched Hand" (which receives virtually no outside financial support, and is charged full commercial rents) will manage the move into new premises. They have been offered a first floor space, which presents its own problems, as one of the beauties of the current set-up is that people can have a good look through the window before they venture in.. Though a lift is promised, so that the centre would still be accessible for wheel chairs and buggies, climbing into a lift might be a step too far for those who aren’t certain they want to commit themselves at all.
More, it seemed that the original group of visionaries is getting weary and dispirited. J tried to get them to share their vision for the future, but they seemed only to have the energy to focus on survival. We had been inspired to visit because we both have experience of a faith community emerging from the experience of eating together, (J's lovely phrase is "we can eat our way into the Kingdom") and we hoped to see the steps by which the café was becoming a church,- but in fact I’m not sure that is really on the agenda here. An expansion of their vision statement reads
“We believe that the first step in helping people to a personal faith in God through Jesus Christ is that they should feel loved, accepted, and part of a community that cares..” and this core belief informs everything that they do. They operate independently of any local church, which is an advantage in an area where Christianity has been seen as at best irrelevant, at worst patronising, intrusive or condemnatory….but it does mean that they are very much on their own, and vulnerable in their isolation. It has to be, really.
"We believe that Jesus Christ demonstrated God's love and healing power for humanity by the way he related to people, by his acceptance as equals of the poorest and the lowest, of sinners and the suffering, and we believe that his revolutionary kingdom of love where the first shall be last and the last shall be first, should be our aim."
The reality of "The Outstretched Hand" is genuinely beautiful…but it is so fragile.
It needs to be fragile, because it is an expression of life (if not of church,-I’m still uncertain of that) in an area where life is a struggle, where nothing comes easily…It needs to be fragile, because powerful bodies and institutions are treated with suspicion when you are aware that you have neither power nor influence. It needs to be fragile because…that is the nature of incarnation. Putting yourself at risk for the sake of others.
Whatever happens in the future, those women have put themselves on the line for the sake of their community, and such love and committment can never be wasted. "The Outstretched Hand" may not be church, but it is surely Kingdom.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Laid bare

"Lent is the season for the Spirit of truth, who drove Jesus into the wilderness to initiate him into the truth which sets free.....Lent is about freedom which is only gained through exposure to the truth. And "What is truth?"....The word literally means "unhiddenness". Truth is not a thing, it is rather an event. Truth happens to us when the coverings of illusion are stripped away and what is real emerges into the open....The truth we are promised if we live the demands of the season of Lent consists not in new furniture for the mind but in exposure to the reality of God's presence in ourselves and the world. The Spirit promises to bring us into truth by stripping away some more of the insulation and barriers which have separated us from living contact with reality, the reality of God, of God's world, of ourselves"
From A Season for the Spirit by Martin Smith, SSJE , Cowley Pubs, London & Cambridge Mass, 1991

Last night at the Offertory we sang Just as I am....the theme song of Tuesday's encounter with God, and perhaps the right theme for the whole of this season of Lent.
I think maybe this year it's all about learning to see myself as God does, hiding nothing from myself, but recognising that his love embraces every part of me, particularly those I am least proud of.

Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd'st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt;
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches, healing of the mind,
yea, all I need, in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive;
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown
has broken every barrier down;
now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
the breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
here for a season, then above:
O Lamb of God, I come

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Tagged again

Karen at Kinesis obviously felt that my procrastination needed attention, as she tagged me for this meme...And since I've totally wasted my day off (apart from the working elements of it, that is) there seemed little point in resisting...though even I can't say that my answers are remotely interesting to anyone, even me. Sorry folks. Tired, I guess.

Four jobs I've had:

1. Bookseller
2. Bed and Breakfast proprietor
3. Charity administrator
4. Amusement arcade cashier (the nastiest holiday job I ever had…deafening noise from slot machines all day long, and a constant aroma of chips and popcorn…and a clientele ranging from the off hand to the abusive. Good money, though!)

Four movies I can watch repeatedly:

1. Truly, madly, deeply
2. The African Queen
3. LOTR The Fellowship of the Ring/The Return of the King
4. Ermm.....not great at film. Depends on the company....maybe a silly girly film with DarlingDaughter: we both enjoy Love Actually, and Notting Hill and that sort of nonsense....will that do?

Four places I have lived:

1. St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex
2. Cambridge
3. London
4 Great Rissington, Gloucestershire

Four TV shows I like to watch:

1. The Good Life
2. Casualty (oh, the shame, the shame!)
3. Miss Marple (Joan Hickson only)
4. Morse (oh, I miss him so much!)
(just realised that only one of those is still current; I seem to spend far more time on the computer than in front of the tv these days, so perhaps that's no surprise)

Four places I have been on vacation:
1. Venice (well, there’s a surprise for my readers)
2. Malta
3. Connemara
4. Brittany

Four favourite dishes:

1. Tuna pasta (as cooked by Longsuffering Clockmaker)
2. Gravad lax
3. Thai prawns with broccoli
4. Spinach crepes

Four websites I visit daily:

1. I don’t really have a pattern to my surfing….my visits are largely controlled by the news from bloglines, and the amount of time I have available. I currently only visit blogs daily, though I do drop in to oremus and the Greenbelt site at least once a week. Come Saturday night, I’ll be reading the posts on desperate preacher for all I’m worth, and wishing that Dylan was within range to chat about the lectionary over a glass of wine.

Four places I would rather be right now
1.Dublin (with DarlingDaughter)
2. Almost anywhere in Italy
3.Beside a roaring log fire in our old sitting room at Lower Farmhouse
4.In a miraculously tidied curate’s house….oh…yes…the remedy for that one lies in my own hand. I never thought of that! Better stop blogging and take steps towards achieving it...

Bother blogger! Help and guidance required.

Bad day on blogger today.Half the time I couldn't get access at all, and when I could, the photo edit function wasn't available...which means that I can't treat you to the enlightened version of yesterday's picture kindly supplied by both Anne and Dayzee. I'll keep trying on that, though, as it's lovely to have a version that actually does the figures justice. Hints and tips as to how it was achieved would also be welcome!
Being unable to access the blog on a day off when I had lots to say has reawakened an anxiety that my archives might disappear off the face of the earth. This would possibly be a service to humanity in general, but I'd be sad, so I wondered if anyone reading has any ideas about storage. I'm sure I read something on jonny's blog awhile ago, but can't remember what the tool/site was called, which makes it hard to hunt for. Also, while on all things techi, do those who've migrated to typepad feel that the better service justifies the monthly fee (bear in mind that I have to sell the notion to the family, who are less enamoured of this blog than is its creator)? I'd love to know.

Ash Wednesday

by Robert Herrick

IS this a fast, to keep
The larder lean ?
And clean
From fat of veals and sheep ?

Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
To fill
The platter high with fish ?

Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg’d to go,
Or show
A downcast look and sour ?

No ; ‘tis a fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat,
And meat,
Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,
From old debate
And hate ;
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent ;
To starve thy sin,
Not bin ;
And that’s to keep thy Lent.

And so the Lenten journey begins. Just 13 of us at the 8.00 Eucharist (there will be more tonight, when the Archdeacon, fresh from his role as an impetus for spring cleaning in the curate’s house, is coming to preach)…but to be honest that was about all I could take.
There was something almost unbearably moving about marking each of those well-known foreheads with the cross, the mark of mortality black as an assault on the pale skin. So many of them are elderly…Last year, T. was one of them. Now he is gone.
But later it was my privilege to offer them the bread of life.
All shall be well.