Sunday, January 27, 2008

What would you rather do, or go fishing?

was one of those nonsensical questions which seemed to be part of adult conversation when I was small...the gist, as I interpretted it, was that fishing was absolutely at the bottom of the list of desirable things to do...something that tended to make me feel that Simon, Andrew et al had rather a raw deal when their option was fishing or fishing.

I don't tend to do much of it myself...neither literally nor figuratively (though that might seem to be a dereliction of clerical duty?). I was back at the Home for the Distinctly Confused again this afternoon, using the same address that I'd delivered as the "Thought" at 8.00 - and I was so very glad that I'd not run with the obvious message...It is always tempting to try and bounce St M's into mission mode - and these days I'm more confident that the agenda would be as it should be, to bring people into a relationship with God and not simply with the church. However, I found myself pursuing another avenue (once again inspired by the thoughts of those on the Preaching the RCL list) and it was such a relief as I considered my evening congregation. There was, once again, a small clutch who were quite definitely on board and happy to be there...There was one lady who was in such a place of disorientation that she spent most of the service shouting for help, - which inspired her immediate neighbour to out shout her with cries of "Shut Up"....There was one lady who sat oblivious at the far end of the dining room, clearly not relating to anyone or anything in the present at all.

I have to say, the worship was not the best we've ever offered...The singing was thin, the prayers mostly solos from the Curate....and reading Matthew's account of the call of the disciples was a huge challenge against the competition of buzzers, tv and the distraught lady.
But once again I found that I'd been given the right words for that situation,those people. I don't know why I'm so surprised!

This evening's story is one of the most familiar of all the gospel scenes, and one of the most familiar of all gospel challenges.
When I was a child, I remember singing the action song
“I will make you fishers of men” – and now I find myself teaching it to the children at OpenHouse and, indeed, most appropriately, at Little Fishes.
We all know the idea.
We, who have heard and responded to the call of Jesus, must in our turn share that call that invitation with others.
We’ve been fished – and now we are sent to fish in our turn.

But maybe it’s not the best metaphor for us as we consider our calling.
A fish, after all, doesn’t exactly thrive after it has been caught. In fact, if the fisherman knows his stuff, it doesn’t survive very long at all…whereas when Jesus invited those men on the shore of Lake Gallillee, he was calling them to a more abundant life.
That call, to which they responded, apparently without a backward glance, was of course to change everything for them…
Let’s think for a moment about all they left behind, good things and bad.
Most obviously, they left their boats – the way that they had earned their livings, the hall-mark of the people they were. They had been independent, - but no longer. They were asked to trust that they’d get by without the wherewithal for a day’s catch.
They left the damage of a day’s work behind, too – torn and tangled nets. No time to sort things out…just go!
AND they left their families. Zebedee, the father of James and John gets a special mention as we imagine him staring after his sons, wondering how he’s going to get the work done, whether his boys will be back in time to go out on the evening run. We know too that Simon had a wife at home, AND a mother in law, and he certainly didn’t run home to tell them he’d be a little while.
He just went…in instant obedience to Jesus…he turned away from his obvious ties and responsibilities and simply followed…and in following, found a wider world, a world of hopes fulfilled and wonders unfolding…a world in which the limitations of life as a lakeside fisherman simply had no meaning.

In short, they found they had left more than simply their past career behind.
There were other things to walk away from, the sorts of things that we too are asked to abandon when we turn to follow Christ…
Things like selfishness, insecurity, small- minded prejudice, fear of those who are different…things that inhibit our relationships with one another as much as with God.
They left those things behind, - though once or twice in the gospels we hear that they’d returned to claim them, and needed some help from Jesus in order to lay them aside finally. That’s an encouragement if, like me, you find yourself frequently reclaiming unwanted baggage.

But for now, let’s look at what they were leaving them FOR…just what was the new work to which they were summoned.
Fishers of men?
It’s a great image if that’s your natural metier…but it does only work in a limited way. At our baptism, we are commissioned to work for the kingdom, but that is far more than an invitation to a fishing trip.
We need to beware the danger of seeing people as simply things to catch and drag into the kingdom, regardless of how they feel. There are some Christians who see this calling as so central to their faith that they only engage with people outside the church in an effort to convert them. Surely this approach dehumanizes people as well as devaluing relationships, turning the world into “them” and “us”…insiders and outsiders…trappers and prey.
That doesn’t sound much like Jesus…
It’s really not quite the same as introducing non-Christian friends to a God whose loving embrace welcomes all.

There’s a further problem: all fish look alike. It’s very easy to think of a net full of fish as being interchangeable, exactly like each other, and not a collection of individuals. It’s all too easy to think of everyone outside the
church in that way too… all alike in need of saving…all surely to be landed by the same baits that brought us in, regardless of any differences in our situations.
But of course the truth is quite different…God meets each person where they are, and calls them as they are …and he calls them to life in its fulness not the processed sameness of a packet of Birds Eye fish fingers!

So, despite the song, let’s forget about fishing.
Jesus used that line for the men on the beach because that was their way of life…If he’d encountered a group of doctors, he might have adapted the call
“I will make you healers of souls”…Builders “Constructors of the kingdom”
Petrol pump attendants “Refuellers of hope”
He wanted them to understand that all of their energies, everything that made them who they were, could be redirected, so that all that they had, all that we have and are, can be given in service to God’s kingdom of justice, peace and love.

So, instead of simply reverting to the Sunday school song, I’d like to share another with you, one written by John Bell of the Iona community.
As you listen to the words, consider what God might be asking you to leave behind, and seek his help as you turn to follow. Perhaps the last verse could be our prayer.

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

Signing off for Iceland now...See you next weekend - take care while I'm gone.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Another timely Friday Five

I have no idea how they do it, but again and again the RevGals in charge of the Friday Five seem to pick a topic that is absolutely spot on for my current concerns. Today I'm viewing with mingled excitement and terror a trip to Iceland with Hugger Steward next week. In her Gap year, Hattie Gandhi and I spent 3 days in Venice - and somehow this has evolved into a tradition such that at some point during a Gap year, there will be a mother and child expedition to a European destination of the offspring's choice. Venice was easy. Art, food and shopping. What's not to love? Iceland is rather more alarming, as HS really wants to explore the wild open spaces, trek across snow fields and generally cut himself adrift from the sorts of safety nets that an unfit middle aged mother might be inclined to cherish. Yes, I love the thought of seeing a real glacier, of encountering the original geyser at Geyser....but I do like to be warm and dry and I have an old fashioned affection for breathing...and I suspect that it may be difficult to achieve all of these. Still, I would trust HS to the ends of the earth and on Monday we depart before the dawn chorus and by tea time will be negotiating the by-ways of Rekjavik. All of which means that a Friday Five on winter is pretty damn timely....

1. What is the thermometer reading at your house this morning? According to BBC Radio Gloucester, it's about 5 degrees this evening (it's now late on Friday here)...Yesterday was positively springlike, but a cold and clear night followed. Today was gloomier but looks set to be warmer tonight as a result.

2. Snow—love it or hate it? Mostly LOVE it. We get very little of it, so it is always an adventure. I slightly lost my nerve after falling a breaking my wrist a few years ago, so am less gung ho about the whole experience - indeed, I feel as if I'm turning into a little old lady as I pick my careful way along the pavement in icy weather...but the shimmering landscape, the way that the ugliest buildings are softened and transformed, the sheer magic...oh, that I love, sure enough.

3. What is winter like where you are? Damp, dank and gloomy - with occasional bursts of sparkling frosted wonder.

4. Do you like winter sports? Any good stories? "Like" and "sports" are pretty much antitheses for me....The broken wrist I mentioned above was caused by nothing more strenuous than walking my young children to school on a frosty morning. I slipped on the ice on my way back down the hill - and found myself unable, for the next 6 weeks, to drive, to write, to do most of the things that a mum with under 10s living in a small village needs to be able to do .
One positive outcome of this was that the said children learned various useful life skills, such as loading the washing machine and making their own packed lunches - but all the same, it was deeply irritating..not least as I had cycled around London, ridden horses in assorted slightly insecure situations and stayed sound in wind and limb. Walking my children to school was clearly far more risky!

5. What is your favorite season, and why? Oooh...I love each of them in turn. I need variety, so whenever a new season is unmistakeably here I rejoice that it's pleasures are to replace those of the one before. Because of all of them spring shouts loudest of transformation and new starts, I guess it's my absolute favourite...but it's hard to beat lying on springy turf under a cloudless summer sky...or scrunching through heaps of autumn leaves...or watching snow muffle the ugliness of the suburbs.

Bonus: Share a favorite winter pick-me-up. A recipe, an activity, or whatever.
Take one cat (black, name of Tallis) , a happily trashy whodunnit, a sofa, an open fire and a mug of Whittard's Spiced Christmas tea. Augment with a slice of Christmas cake and a CD of your choice. I'm going to listen to the Tallis Scholars performing Dunstable....and I'm not coming out til it stops raining.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


today has been full of it!

After Morning Prayer came Little Fishes - capacity crowds, the story of the miracle at Cana and (a minor miracle in itself) no spiced red fruit juice (wine, obviously) spilled on the chapel carpet. I'm really struggling with the thought of leaving this group - so many wonderful women, so many delightful tinies, and the bumps whom I won't get to see turn into babes. Each week is precious.

This was followed by the funeral of a lovely lady, whom I met when I conducted her husband's service very soon after I'd arrived here. We'd remained friends...she was one of those "heart lift" people who always make you feel better for having seen them. She was desperately ill just before I went to India in November 06, and I'd left feeling it was unlikely that I would see her again - but she fought back and, when I caught up with her in hospital on my return her first question was, as always
"How are you and how is your family?"
I almost expected her voice to interrupt our tributes today - "Enough about me. How are YOU doing?"

Having made a brief appearance at the wake, for the sake of her (equally lovely) children, I then drove over to Tewkesbury (still surrounded by water) to visit an elderly parishioner who really won't be here much longer. His daughter and son-in-law were there, so we prayed together. Not sure if he was aware of much of what was happening as I anointed him, but his daughter has been very anxious that everything should be done properly and it was clearly the right thing to do.

Another visit – this time to someone struggling with serious depression. Hard to be there with her and able to do so little...We talked about this - that all I can do is stand beside her in the darkness and wait for it to lift. She is an elderly lady, who has struggled with this demon all her life and each time it returns she has less energy for the fight. Someone else whom I won't want to leave.

Evening Prayer and immediately afterwards, a meeting of the Youth Committee.
Really positive tone to the meeting, and some helpful support for a couple of tricky issues we are facing…It’s lovely that we are now able to be confident in our work with children and young people overall, that relationships exist that simply weren’t in place a few years ago. I will miss the children of Charlton Kings horribly…dealing with the fact that I won’t know “what happened next” for them is quite the hardest part about moving on, but as a group they’ve taught me more about ministry than almost anyone. When I came here as a former “Children’s Reader” I imagined that my priorities would be very different, that children’s work would be much less significant…what I didn’t expect was that it would be the thing that fired and fuelled me for the other areas.I guess I might have known though, since it was when reading the distinctly depressing statistics about contact with young families that I heard myself tell WonderfulVicar, back at the stage when we were weighing each other up and trying to discern whether St M's was the place for me
"I've got to come here".
Yup - it's a God thing for sure!
Four years on, I know that if I am to flourish in ministry, I need regular opportunities to spend time with children and youth. Looking ahead, I feel very blessed that there is not only a church primary school but 2 county primaries within or in shouting distance of my new parish.
When I feel inadequate and terrified I remember that, and become simply excited again!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It being Tuesday

what else would you expect but a FRIDAY FIVE

1.What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why?
Timothy Radcliffe "What is the point of being a Christian?"
Truly splendid. I really want everyone I know to go and read it, - for far too many good reasons to cite. It's the sort of book that rekindles your faith in the Church- how about these as a random examples of sheer brilliance?
"God liberates us from small ambitions so that we may learn to hope more extravagantly"
"Thanking is thinking truly and prayer helps us to think well."
"The smile of Jesus summons me to an identity that is not constructed but given"

What is one of your favorite childhood books?
Oh my goodness - I was such a constant bookworm. As an only child I read, re-read and then read some more and to choose just one book feels deeply disloyal to so many other friends.
But because it has been very much at the forefront of my thoughts around Hattie Gandhi's 21st Birthday, I'll plump for Elizabeth Goudge's "Henrietta's House". I've just looked on amazon and it seems to be not only out of print, but collectably rare. How sad! I'd love to send it to several special people.
As an only child I made a habit of adopting dear people to augment my rather limited familial resources, and like the eponymous Henrietta I dreamed of living somewhere where I could have them all under one roof, close at hand. There are still traces of those yearnings - it matters hugely to me that the people I love should at least know each if I ever make a big deal of your spending time with my children, trust me, it's a compliment.

Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Do tell!
John....and Psalms. Couldn't do without either. Please don't ask me to try.

What is one book you could read again and again?
Oh - so many. All the C S Lewis Narnia books AND the "Out of the Silent Planet" trilogy.
Bleak House - imho the best of all Dickens
Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising. - which I re-read every winter, around Christmas time if I can (assuming that I can wrest one of our multiple copies away from the offspring)
Any Jane Austen...

Is there a book you would suggest for Lenten reading? What is it and why?
Most of my own current reading is very much geared to preparing for the realities of a "first responsibility post" - but I'm hoping during Lent to spend some time with Marva Dawn & Eugene Peterson's "The Unnecessary Pastor" - in order to shift my focus away from the nuts and bolts of churchyard regulations and the like and help me focus on the foundations of my calling. I guess that would be quite a goodie for many of us.

And because we all love bonus questions, if you were going to publish a book what would it be? Who would you want to write the jacket cover blurb expounding on your talent?
It might just be "the book of the blog" -
"Good in Parts - the struggles of a jobbing curate"...and thanks to your encouragement, I'd love any one of you to write a blurb for me. You really do make me feel good about writing, and about being me!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


struck this evening!

The afternoon was unexpectedly manic, as I heard at the church door of 2 people newly in hospital who could do with a visit and I still had the evensong sermon to write. Worse, my computer has not been on speaking terms with my printer since just before Christmas, so everything has taken longer as I have faffed around with memory stick, the other family printer etc etc...So after lunch I sat down and struggled to some sort of a conclusion with the sermon, saved it on the memory stick and handed that over to LCM, who was engaged in some complicated CD burning operation such that I couldn't simply print the sermon off myself.
Shortly afterwards, he brought in a wodge of paper which I slipped into the relevant file before heading off to the hospital. Everything ran smoothly there, and I arrived safely at church in comfortable time for Evensong. All continued well till the 2nd lesson...having prepared a sermon on Galatians 1 1-11 what I heard was Galatians 1 11-24 (this is absolutely correct - I have no idea what possessed me to write on the earlier passage). However there was, I felt, nothing to be done about this except to confess to an inverse epiphany - a moment not of "Ahah" but of "Oh No" and then trust to God that the congregation would still make some sense of my words...It might have been OK, too, if I hadn't reached the end of page 4 and turned over to discover not page 5 but a totally unrelated document...and no sign of the rest of my sermon ANYWHERE
What that sermon lacked in content (pretty much everything) it certainly made up for in passion as my panic lent fire to my words...

Notes to self

  • Read the lectionary reference, check that you've read it, read it again
  • Check contents of file before ascending pulpit steps
  • If all else fails, bring things to a close with speed and conviction and thank God for the junior choristers whose silent applause as I cowered in my stall afterwards was quite the most cheering aspect of the whole thing
  • Seek mediation for the printer/computer dispute...get them talking somehow, come what may

Thoughts for the day

When he arrived at St M's 5 years ago, WondefulVicar was told very firmly that the 8.00 congregation did not expect and would not welcome any sort of word, to interrupt their silent devotions...He was pushing their boundaries by inviting them to acknowledge their neighbour so far as to exchange the Peace. To actually halt them in their tracks and compell them to spend a couple of minutes exploring and reflecting on Scripture would be Just. Too. Much.
He accepted this without demur, and this remained the case when the Curate arrived a year later...At Festivals sometimes one or other of us got overexcited by the wonder of the day and launched into some sort of meditation upon it but by and large we respected their wishes. Only we both felt uncomfortable. The 8.00 congregation is considerably more than a handful, and as I shook hands with some 30 plus week after week it was hard to feel that I wasn't short changing them.
So we agreed that,from Advent Sunday, a "thought for the day" would become part of the pattern...We waited for the onslaught and today it came.
As I stood by the door, person after person spoke
"Thank you so much for including an address" "It's really good to have something to carry away with me into the week" "I'm so glad that we get a proper talk now".
Which all goes to show - you never know until you try, and it is probably never a good idea to rely on 3rd party evidence as a guide to the wishes of others!

Of course, some weeks this does mean that I'm preparing an address of some sort on two different lections (this Sunday is one such) but on the whole, I think it's triumphantly worth it....
This morning's word's are here...This evening's? Well, let's say they're still under construction!

Yesterday was full and happy. I left first thing to drive down to Sussex by the sea, where my honorary mum, the wonderful E was celebrating her 90th birthday together with her 3 children, J, T & S,- all of whom have been part of my life forever.
Though the actual birthday was on Thursday, there was still a hugely festive air to the holiday cottage where we gathered - J and her husband coming from Denmark, and earlier in the week D had visited from Dubai, as well as those of us who'd come from assorted corners of the UK.
For me E has been a warm and constant presence, a source of love and encouragement at every stage. just after the 2nd world war, when my father contracted tuberculosis and found himself in a sanitorium next to E's husband T, an RAF pilot who had been one of the "few" in the Battle of Britain. When both men were discharged, they lost touch for a few years, bumping into each other by chance when Daddy needed a ladder to arrange a fundraising display, popped in to a nearby pub (in a small town a good 50 miles away from the sanitorium) to borrow one and found T working behind the bar. The friendship resumed instantly and when T2 was born, Daddy became his godfather, while we returned the compliment when J became my godmother in turn. Sadly tuberculosis claimed T's life before I was even born, but the families remained close, E caring for me and including me among her children during my own mother's frequent spells in hospital. Bringing up 3 children on a war widow's pension must have been so hard, but there was never a feeling of scarcity, of eking out resources - rather a joyous creativity as E showed us what could be done to create beauty from things that others would have discarded. I like to think that HG's penchant for "Charity Shop Chic" was learned from watching E, always quirkily elegant on less than a shoe string. I love that whole family so much. They've always been there...always welcomed me...always made me feel totally at home....and the loving connections continue for the next generation, as T2 is Hattie Gandhi's godfather.
Yesterday was,I think, the first time we've all been together since
HG was very tiny.There were lots of "do you remember?" conversations, lots of comfortable silences, lots of sheer delight in each other's company. Since my generation had all grown up by the seaside, where else could be the right backdrop for our rejoicings? It was all very British - cold and windswept and wonderful...and after a few bracing moments (the only concession to E's age was that we didn't actually stride for a couple of miles along the beach) we took refuge in a nearby pub (where William Blake had a run in with the army once long before).
300 miles round trip and worth every second.

Thank you, E...Your birthday, like your birth, was a gift to all of us.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Slightly too accurate

though of course, being an online quiz, it made this analysis without my actually writing a word. Kind of ironic, no?
Still, fwiw...

What Your Handwriting Says About You

You are a fairly energetic person. You know how do pace yourself, and you deal well with stress.

You are very extroverted and outgoing. You are loving, friendly, and supportive. However, you are also manipulative and controlling at times.

You are balanced and grounded. You know how to get along well with others.

You need a bit of space in your life, but you're not a recluse. You expect people to give you a small amount of privacy, and you respect their privacy as well.

You are somewhat traditional, but you are also open to change. You listen to your head and your heart.

You are a decent communicator. You eventually get your point across, but sometimes you leave things a bit ambiguous.
What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?

Now, Curate, enough of these on-line diversions...don't you know there's
a sermon,a thought for the day,and a funeral address to write before bedtime. Go to it!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A long time ago

at a CME event we were asked to produce an image that conveyed how we saw ourselves as preachers. Though others came up with rather lovely images of a lens reflecting the light of Christ, or something that existed to connect God and his world, I found that the only picture that had any reality for me was of a dog crashing through the bracken, intent on indulging in a thrilling exploration...but losing the trail, heading off in the wrong direction, having to return to square one..Always, with wagging tail, huge enthusiasm and an overwhelming desire to please.
Close friends will be familiar with my references to my "inner golden retriever" - who sometimes gets all too enthusiastic, bounding up to people without reserve, and probably slobbering all over them too- so it was absolutely no surprise that when, following Rach's lead, I tried the latest quiz, this was my result. The last sentence in particular sung loud and clear for me!

You Would Be a Pet Dog

You're friendly, loyal, and an all around good sport.
People love to be near you.
You are very open with your feelings,
and you're quite vocal in expressing them.
You are sincere and kind.
You love many people -
without any sort of agenda.

Why you would make a great pet:
You're content to chill out with your friends

Why you would make a bad pet:
You always find yourself getting into trouble

What you would love about being a dog:
Running around and playing

What you would hate about being a dog:
Being left home alone
while everyone else is out having fun

A chance to be glad

Yesterday I went over to Tewkesbury (not overwhelmed with floodwater, despite gloomy media predictions - though I do feel for those several poor souls still living in mobile homes in their own gardens) for lunch with such of the clergy women of the diocese who were free and wanted to attend. We have these gatherings twice a year and, though when they were first mooted some expressed disquiet that we should still "need" to meet together as women now that our ministry is mostly accepted without drama, I really value the opportunity to spend time with my sisters in ministry, to share experiences and to pool our resources in the face of any problems.

There were road-works, which I hadn't planned for, so I arrived even later than usual - and as I walked into the room at the beautiful Abbey House several women were gathered in groups, chatting over the bring and share lunch. I'd hardly put my coat down when one came over, and presented me with a card and some lovely daffodils - the first I've even seen this year.
"Congratulations on your new post!" she said
and it was like that all the way...Friend after friend offered hugs, happy messages, enough affirmation to keep even an ENFP purring for a good long while.

Later we got into groups to talk about our particular pressures, and I realised that actually for me, one hardship is the absence of opportunity to share joys in ministry.Specifically, it is hard for me to enthuse too much about the future in my new parishes - as I know that there is sadness on both sides as I prepare to leave the people here who have taught me so much through my curacy...It was a real gift to be able to bounce and rejoice with women who understand, because they've been there, the curious mixture of delight and awe that goes with the prospect of responsibility for a whole parish of my very own.
More generally, you have to be pretty geeky to get excited about some of the bits of ministry that send me home wanting to sing of an evening - and my family, though tolerant, can quite clearly have too much of a good thing. Bad days, paradoxically, are fine...Then they will get indignant on my behalf, offer me a hug, pour me a drink ...they don't need to know the details in order for me to feel the better for their comfort. But good days, days when there's something that feels just wonderful - those can be hard to share.

So, today I'm consciously grateful for those people with whom I can and do share pretty much everything...and for those of you whose periodic comments make me feel that there are readers out there who are interested in the ongoing story of what Kathryn did next.

ETA so often happens in sermons it seems that what I thought I was writing and what people read were rather different...I truly wasn't appealing for reassurance that you are still there, though it's lovely that you are. I was just noticing that having people with whom I can share good times as much as problems is Very Important for me. Thanks, friends

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Last Saturday's book post

just didn't happen - as you may have noticed. No surprise there, then!
However, this doesn't mean I'm not busy reading...

Sillies for the week, thanks to my ever-wonderful public library were
(an amiable historical whodunnit, with good period detail and well drawn characters)
(set in India AND a detective story: how could it fail?)

But I'm doing some proper reading too -

John Pritchard's The Life and Work of a Priest

is so wonderful that I'm re-reading and taking notes as I go and will give it a post of its very own shortly. Highly, highly recommended - one of those books that makes you want to cheer every few sentences. Thank you, LMC, who produced it for Christmas.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Humbled by a blessing

Sunday afternoon saw my return to the Home for the Decidedly Confused (stop giggling, I was visiting, ok?) which I'd not visited for a while. We work a rota with our neighbours at the Baptist church, so turns don't come round that often...and with a rather unremarkable reflection on the Baptism of Christ to offer I wasn't looking forward to it much.

The particular challenge about ministry here is that because so many of the residents suffer from at least a degree of confusion, if not full-blown dementia, making relationships is almost impossible - particularly when you only visit once every few weeks. Of course I'd be happy to visit more regularly, but we do have a lay visitor who brings Communion to the home, and I've no desire to tread on any toes, so my policy has been to keep a low profile unless one of our "own" elderly is admitted...As a result I don't get to know names, and even faces change quite regularly though some residents remain there for many years.

On Sunday, the group was much smaller than usual...about a dozen I guess, instead of the more usual twenty...but at least 4 of them were enthusiastic when I offered them a hymn sheet and the giant print order of service I've produced for them (loosely modelled on Evening Prayer). I felt quite hopeful. One third of my congregation able and willing to engage felt very promising, so I was disappointed as the service began and, as usual, I found myself the only voice speaking the prayers and responses. God forgive me, I heard myself thinking "Well, this is pretty pointless. They have no sense of what is going on...I might as well be reading them the Yellow Pages for all the good this is doing"
The first hymn was no better, but I ploughed on with the Gospel and then launched into my reflection on it.

The change happened just as I said

This is my son, the Beloved with whom I am well pleased
Not because of what he has done but because of who he is,

There it was - a sudden focussing of attention, an intensity of listening that transcended the buzz of a service bell, the noise of the tv in the adjoining lounge, even the struggling cough of the gentleman who sat, still wrapped in his bib, at the back of the dining room.
I heard myself again...but this time I knew exactly why I was there, as I spoke these words
This is my son, the beloved…
Hear God speaking those words to you, not because of what you can do for him but because of what he is….for what he is is simply and wholly love.

Obvious really - but just in case I was at any risk of missing the point, when the service was over and I had prayed down a blessing an elderly man spoke up
"I want to thank you for coming, for being with us. You have no idea what difference your words make to us. Come over here - I want to pray for you too"
And he did. He blessed me on behalf of all there, and of his home congregation , on the other side of Cheltenham.Quite wonderfully, as he held my hand in both of his.

Please, God, help me to learn the lesson I thought to teach...and to remember that there is never "routine" or "pointless" ministry if I remember to focus on your kingdom and not mine.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Birthday Girl

14th January 1987 saw London in the grip of a snow storm...It had started snowing the day before, and a thick layer already covered Wandsworth Common as we drove past it on the way to an ante-natal appointment at St George's, Tooting. Because 14th was my due date, we actually saw my consultant that day - and she agreed that there was nothing much happening and booked me in for another appointment the following week,
"At which stage," she added, somewhat ominously, "we'll discuss the options for an induction".

So, when I woke the following morning feeling a bit uncomfortable, I didn't pay very much attention.
First babies, after all, never arrive on their due date - and anyway, it would be much too much like hard work to make LCM dig out our car and drive me the 4 miles to the hospital, only to be sent home again when nothing much happened.
Only, it became apparent that something really was happening. Nothing very much, just enough to make me determined to keep walking up and down stairs while LCM ate some breakfast.Sitting or standing still just didn't seem to be an our drive through the snow silenced streets of South London was rather a challenge - but still, I was quite sure this couldn't be labour. Not on the right day. No, I'd invented it because I was excited and longing for this baby to become a reality...

We parked the car and made our way through the falling snow. To my surprise, I seemed to have to stop every few minutes as waves of discomfort swept over me - but this couldn't be labour. It was much too manageable.Going up to the delivery suite in the lift was a bit of a show stopper - not least because I found myself sharing it with my (awe-inspiring) consultant. Surely I couldn't be about to prove her wrong.
But when we got into a delivery room, suddenly I was sure that she was indeed quite quite wrong.
"Goodness" said Helen, the student midwife, "I can see your baby's head - what alot of hair!"
The need to push became the single most important force in creation - and so, fifty minutes after we arrived at the hospital, my own darling daughter, - with hair damp and curly, and eyes as blue as the sunlit sea, - was placed in my arms for the very first time. The earth jolted on its axis, the traffic in the streets ground to a halt and there was music everywhere...

Three days of dream- land, as London struggled with the snow, and my baby (my baby!!) and I cuddled up together in our bed by the window, basking in the hot-house temperatures of the post-natal ward, surrounded by endless bouquets of pink flowers, as we watched people outside slither and slide on the icy pavements. People showered us with cards and gifts - but I couldn't understand why. Didn't they see that I already had all that I could ever have dreamed of?

Well, we came home, the dream was indeed reality, and the music of those first heady minutes of motherhood became a constant sound-track to our lives as this first-born of mine sang before she spoke, and has moved through life on a tide of song ever since.
Today I drove down to Cardiff to help her celebrate, amid the busyness of exam week.
Again, loving friends conspired to counter nature...The day was set grey, wet and murky, but BestUniFriend had arranged an indoor picnic, - its centre-piece a fully-fitted picnic hamper, containing all sorts of Wind in the Willows delights - and created an enchanted landscape - complete with elephants, peacocks and butterflies (albeit in minature) in which to savour it.

When I first cradled her in the soft light of the delivery room, once all the busyness was over and done, my prayer for her was that she would always have someone to love her, someone on whose sofa she could crash if the day had been bad, special people whom she could love and be loved by. Driving home tonight, I realised just how fully that prayer has been answered. Her life is full of special people, people who love her, people whom she loves and I'm so grateful.But most of all I'm grateful that she is my daughter.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Some improvement

So - the expenses have been submitted, 2 good visits happened, the rain turned to snow and then back to rain (during which the dogs got their walk), and I think I've earned the next bit of diversion...this time in the form of the Friday Five.
Mother Laura is shortly to be engulfed by a wave of family birthdays, so this week's theme is "It's my Party" (tears purely optional)

1. When is your birthday? Does anyone else (famous and/or in your own life) share it?
I'm 1st June - a date chosen by my parents and the gynae man when it became obvious that my mother wouldn't be able to carry me to term..Since both the surgeon and my father were navy men, they opted for "The Glorious 1st" - the date of a sea battle involving Lord Howe, whose details were never quite clear to me. I share the date with, of all people, Marilyn Monroe - but also Edward Woodward (oh the joy of saying his much pleasure in so few syllables) and Fredericka von Stade. Rather to my embarassment, I'd not heard of the majority of the celebrities that the birthday website offered me as twins. My gorgeous god-daughter Lucy has a birthday the day before, though...When her dad phoned to tell me she had arrived, I was convinced that he'd phoned to wish me a happy birthday. Of course I'm the centre of the universe, dammit!

2. Do you prefer a big party or an intimate celebration for the chosen few? The only big parties I've done were my 18th and 21st, both of which I enjoyed mightily....but on the whole, an evening with the people I love most is probably a safer bet all round.

3. Describe your most memorable birthday(s)--good, bad, or both.
My 6th birthday (I think) was made memorable by the fact that I spent most of my party coming down with chicken pox and feeling absolutely rotten, but determined to party on anyway..because it was the first time that all my class were invited to our house, and my parents had arranged some games which, in memory at least, were truly awesome...I wish I could recapture the excitement of the round-the-garden treasure hunt
My 40th was utterly wonderful, since it co-incided with the Cotswold Children's Choir's millennium production of Noye's Fludde. Hattie Gandhi had her first big solo part, and both the boys were on stage too, and I was part of a "community orchestra", picking up my cello again for the first time in many a year (In fact, at the first rehearsal the young man who shared my desk, when told that I hadn't played the cello for 20 years looked at me with jaw dropping amazement before uttering the awestruck comment "You haven't practised for TWENTY YEARS! Lucky you...!") If you know the work you'll remember that the final chorus uses Tallis's Canon - and every night my very good friend the conductor would exchange glances with me as we reached a particular line...and I would hear all my children singing quite beautifully and think to myself...... "Well, if I have to drop dead at this moment, I'll actually be quite content. This is as good as it gets"

4. What is your favorite cake and ice cream? (Bonus points if you share the cake recipe). Or would you rather have a different treat altogether?
June is strawberry time, so my favourite childhood birthday cake was always a simple sponge with stawberries and cream heaped upon it. Nowdays, actually I'll just have the strawberries, if that's OK. And maybe some Ben & Jerry's ice cream to wash them down.

5. Surprise parties: love 'em or hate 'em? I love the idea, though I've never had one....but I'm not sure I'd trust anyone other than HG or HS to invite the right people and arrange the right food...A surprise party surely has to be just the way you'd have arranged it, it you'd been asked to devise your dream celebration.

Bonus: Describe your ideal birthday--the sky's the limit.
Let's put a mixture of my children and my dearest friends (of course you're invited) on the narrowboat "Polyphony", going nowhere very much...with good food (yes, including strawberries - and "pink fish"), good music and champagne...It's a real summer day. There are ducklings in the reeds, a kingfisher flashes past....and when I open that basket that HG has been keeping so close to her person, it turns out to contain a kitten. Tabby and white, I think. That'll do me nicely.

Bother !

Those New Year intentions of mine aren't doing too well today...Here I am blogging between the hours of Morning and Evening Prayer, the rain is coming down in torrents so I don't see the dogs getting walked any time soon, and I'm busily not doing my end of last year expenses. Grrr.
In an effort to prevent myself from doing anything that might be remotely constructive, I wandered over to Dave Walker's wonderful Cartoon Blog where he has a post appealing for suggestions, real or imagined, of the things that clergy carry about their persons.
There are some entertaining ideas in the comments - and it made me ponder the essential contents of my own bag (or, in happier times, bike basket. The Duffeplud gave me a wonderful example of this species for Christmas, which simply hooks over the handlebars, so that I can have it sitting beside my desk in the study and drop things into it as I realise I might need them later - thankfully the basket was sitting right there when the bike was pinched so it's not gone as well)
So a list of the USEFUL contents of my bag (less than 50% of the actual contents, of course....time to weed again) looks a little like this
  • Church book and desk diary - stuffed with essential bits of paper that I'll lose any day now
  • Pens
  • Mobile phone (which will be buried in the deepest recess, so that I only reach it as it stops ringing. Always. Without fail.)
  • Book of Pastoral Prayers (includes such diverse liturgies as house blessing and marking the end of a relationship..)
  • Keys - Church, Hall and Home
  • Headache pills
  • Brush/comb
  • Small wooden bear to entertain miserable toddlers
  • (If I DONT need them) Visiting cards
  • Purse (usually empty of anything that might help to pay for parking)
  • Post it notes (stuck to interior of bag and thus incapable of sticking to anything else)
  • NRSV New Testament & Psalms (the copy I was given by the Bishop during my diaconal ordination)
  • RevGals "That'll blog" notebook, as sent to me by Songbird
  • (Not often enough) Camera (though current phone isn't bad at photography, so this is less vital than it used to be)
  • Memory stick
I would like it to contain an oil stock, but I don't currently own one, and it ought probably to contain the sick-call stole that lives in my home Communion set....Tissues would also be an improvement on the current yards of loo paper that lurk in the depths- try offering that to a distressed parishioner with any sense of dignified compassion, eh!

This may well come into the TMI category - but I'd love to hear what you keep in your essential kit...and any entertaining additions that you feel might really boost my ministry! No point in mentioning chocolate - it wouldn't stand a chance.

Just thinking

WonderfulVicar is having his post-Christmas break at the moment (having, with his familiar generosity given me the pick of the time off, so that I didn't work from Christmas day lunchtime until 2nd January)..which has meant a busy week for me.
It began with 3 funerals, 1 of which has stayed with me in the days that followed.
You see, J seemed to have no-one, beyond the delightful couple who, as connections of her late husband, had befriended her after his sudden death, and had arranged the service.
J and her husband had, it appears, the sort of marriage that left no room for anyone else, and when he died she was almost completely isolated.
Since she had wished for burial in the parish cemetery, which has no chapel of its own, we met in church for her funeral - 3 mourners, the bearers and me. Earlier that day I had been part of a very different service in the crematorium chapel, filled to overflowing as we thanked God for someone whose family were as full ofgratitude as of grief...It seemed, really, that the venues should have been reversed. The church felt huge and empty and, even with the help of the bearers, the hymns sounded thin and disheartened. The friends who had "adopted" J knew nothing about her earlier life, and the past 10 years had seen increasing infirmity and confusion, so there was little to be said in the address, though I did my best with John Donne ("No man is an island...") and, for once had ample time to proclaim a Resurrection gospel.
And, as always, the liturgy did its work, carrying us through the processes of repentence, of thankfulness, commendation and farewell.
When I got home, though, LCM asked whether I'd have still tried to offer an address if there had been nobody there...The reality is, of course, that this just wouldn't happen.None of our funeral directors would leave the priest to conduct a service alone, and in the absence of anyone with the words to affirm the specific value of the life that has ended, it surely becomes even more important to affirm that ours is a God who notices when a sparrow falls...a God who has created us not for deadly oblivion but for joyous relationship with Him.
Each funeral, whatever the circumstance, is a witness to the love of God in a hard place...and goodness, the words of the liturgy are such a gift. Always, always they move us on...always, it seems to me, they bring with them the light of hope...and always it is such a privilege to carry that light, even in an empty church.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Did you know?

that the space left by a missing bike is not, as you might expect, simply of the size of the bike in question?

In fact, it expands in proportion to the usefulness of said vehicle,-so, when I came out of my front door on Monday morning to a gap where my bike had been parked, the gap was the size of a small canyon.I've been falling into it, and running even later than usual for everything all week.

Thanks, whoever took it: I hope it's being as helpful to you as it has been to me for the past several years...I do miss it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

After Saturday, Sunday

and my first back at work after the Christmas festivities...Suddenly, time at St M's feels very short and I'm torn between sadness at leaving so many dear and special people and excitement at what lies ahead. Actually, writing today let's substitute "terror" as I've a "drinks and meet the PCCs" evening tonight - and am more than marginally anxious about it...but I do know that on interview day, back in November, I was as honestly and completely myself as I've ever been, so whatever happens in the months and years ahead I know that the parish reps met me as I am, and made their decision based on that experience. If I'd not been to the 3D training day in October, I might have gone in determined to show them the sort of candidate I imagined they were looking for, - and goodness knows how that might have panned out!

However, that's all ahead. Right now, I'm engaged in relating to the people of St M's, in sharing their lives before God to whatever extent feels good to them...and there was plenty to be shared on Sunday once the Eucharist was over, and my ungainly sermon preached.
We also had the first OpenHouse of 2008 - and to my joy it was really well attended. That first service after Christmas is potentially problematic. Occasional worshippers, the backbone of OpenHouse (interesting thought, that "occasionals" should be the backbone of anything) have mostly appeared at church for the Crib Service so are unlikely to return so soon...and with schools not yet back, there's no mechanism for jogging of memories, beyond the banner on the fence. But, against all expectations, they came...a goodly crowd to "Follow that Star" around the church, and to practice chalking the doors (something I'd never met at all till this year...though it is apparently a European custom) and, of course, to eat the wonderful MU tea.
That was so good for morale. Of all the things that have happened since I've been here, the birth of OpenHouse is the thing I'm most proud of and this month's turnout suggests that it is firmly established now and , DV, should flourish come what may.

Catch up posts

What a blessing I realised I had no hope of producing a post a day for the whole year...but just to break the blogging ice, a few quick bullets of what's been going on here

Saturday - once sermon procrastination was done and dusted, we embarked on a frenzy of house cleaning and cooking in honour of stage 1 of Hattie Gandhi's 21st birthday. The Day itself is still to come, but she has 3 major essays and an exam that week so her celebrations are being somewhat scattered. Saturday was the "Significant People" party - featuring a couple of her godparents, her musical and writing mentors, dearest of all dear friends - and us, the rest of the GoodinParts family too. We had the loveliest evening. Her special people are indeed truly special (the two godparents close enough to come are my first ever school friend, whom I met in the sandpit in my first week at kindergarten 43 years ago, and my honorary brother (son of my hon mother, E) whom I've known and loved all my life) - and HG glowed gently with the sheer delight of having some of her favourite souls on the planet gathered in one place. Not for nothing did both mother and daughter cherish Henrietta's House during childhood - with its vision of a house where all the people we love best can be together.

Flowers and fizz abounded, conversation was relaxed and happy, writing mentor regaled us with wonderful story telling, but my favourite part of the evening was surely when violas, flutes and guitars appeared and all sorts of music followed. It's hard to accept that my first born is fully adult now, but what could be better for a parent than to know that her life is full of story and song, full of light and colour, but most of all full of people who love and are loved by her.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Books do furnish a room

On New Year's day, a friend sent me the link to an article in praise of books...good, solid books printed on real paper...the sort of books that teeter in piles beside my bed, that spill over from my shelves in the study, that I hoard as the most zealous dragon guards its jewels.
It's a good article - one I'm sure you'll enjoy - and with a happy heap of Christmas books still awaiting my attention, it connected instantly with me. After all, we've a house move only 3 months away - and our last move involved a very painful pruning process, from which I've only slowly recovered. This time, though, I'm happy to report that the 80feet of shelving dictated by the C of E for clergy studies is already fixed to the wall in the new vicarage (it couldn't actually be fitted into the study here at Privet Drive) and I'm not planning to leave anything behind...except maybe that volume I picked up when allowed free rein to plunder the shelves of a retiring priest.
Who could resist a paperback entitled
"Courtesans and Fishbones"? Sheer bliss - though the book itself turns out to be a scholarly work in an area right off my map...

Anyway - I digress (surely not!)...Several bloggers have decided to join Alex in her Reading Challenge to list every book consumed this year. I'm hoping that if I sign up too, it might encourage me to finish those I start. I think I'll aim to post once a week on a Saturday...Cathy has a clever little ticker widget too, QG is reviewing hers, while St Casserole, bless her heart, voices an anxiety I share, about admitting to some of the trash I read by way of relaxation.
Apparently all is grist to Alex's mill -
so, herewith my books for the first week of January in this year of our Lord 2008
(I'll only link the the worthwhile ones, I think....I'm sure you're more than capable of indulging your own fictional vices in the "amiable trash" category ;-) )

(I was privileged to read this before publication, so didn't follow it through Advent as assiduously as I would have otherwise...but it's a joy, truly - and something I'd warmly recommend for another year)

  • The Cat who went bananas - Lilian Jackson Baum
  • What Came before he shot her - Elizabeth George
Next week you can expect a marked decrease in fiction consumption, balanced, I trust, by something approaching to Serious Reading (though of course, given my customary "follow through" rate, you are equally likely never to hear anything about this again!)

ETA I ought to make it clear, perhaps, that the 80feet are the shelves actually provided by the church in every stipendiary clergy study (in theory at least)....our aggregate total of shelving is probably at least 3 times that...not to mention the window cills, piles on floors, stacks in corners...

Friday, January 04, 2008

It's Friday night

but for this week only, my sermon procrastination techniques have to be applied a full 24 hours early, as tomorrow we've guests here, so sitting late over a hot computer is simply not an option...
On that basis, and because I cannot martial my thoughts on the Epiphany despite all sorts of splendid help from some truly amazing friends, it's time to play the 0h-so-topical Friday Five

Sally says
Well it had to be didn't it, love them or hate them I bet you've been asked about New Year resolutions. So with no more fuss here is this weeks Friday Five;

1. Do you make New Year resolutions?
Kind of. Actually, I make resolutions at the drop of a hat. New Year. Ash Wednesday. My birthday. Coming home from a retreat. New school year in September...I'm always on the lookout for new beginnings, and intent on indulging in some sort of self improvement in their honour. That's the theory at least

2. Is this something you take seriously, or is it a bit of fun?
Not so seriously that I get bogged down when I trip over my own feet and have to abandon the quest - though I'm serious in longing to make some of the changes those "resolutions" represent.

3. Share one goal for 2008.
Simple and obvious. To settle happily into my new parishes and begin building worthwhile relationships with the people there as we explore ministry together.
fwiw, other goals/resolutions below

4. Money is no barrier, share one wild/ impossible dream for 2008
Return to India with my children and deliver the money St M's raised to rebuild Dharma's church to him in person.

5. Someone wants to publish a story of your year in 2008, what will the title of that book be?
"More Tea Vicar, or What Kathryn did next"

Thursday, January 03, 2008

And to-day's lesson is...

Never let anyone kid you that letting go gets easier with experience.

Yesterday afternoon, Hugger Steward and I were out working on his driving, as it’s not long till he takes his test. He’s been learning for 4 months and is a good driver on the whole, so if we’re just proceeding from A to B for a purpose I tend to be pretty relaxed and forget the “L” plates on the car.
When we’re out to practice specific things, though, it’s somehow a different matter.

I remember all the things he doesn’t know, imagine all the situations he’s unprepared for, and all the anxieties and neuroses of a mother watching her offspring try their wings come into play with a vengeance. Against all reason, all need, yesterday saw me clenching my hands, applying my foot to a non-existent brake-pedal, indulging in all the dotty behaviours that seem to be part of my pattern when struggling to let go of control of something or someone important.
As we came down a steep hill towards the race-course, I remembered another time when I’d felt just this way…as Hattie Gandhi, aged 6 or thereabouts, raced downhill on her bike, just days after taking off the fairy wheels for the last time. It felt like a parable of parenthood then, and it still does…that headlong rush of a child into their future, leaving me standing, wondering at their courage.

After a cosy Christmas break, with familiar traditions revisited, and young adults largely content to fall into the roles they’ve taken right through their childhood, perhaps it’s not surprising that the current dose of letting go feels particularly challenging…specially when I realise that next time HG comes home it will be to a different house, one that she will never have lived in full time, one that she may never really think of as “home”. She went back to uni yesterda, and HS is beginning to prepare for his stay in Africa later in the year…
Their mother is slowly unclenching her fists and continuing to work on smiling as she watches them fly.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Not exactly resolutions

As someone with negative "Completer/Finisher" ratings on Belbin, I've never done particularly well with New Year resolutions...When I was a child, my father used to advise me to "Aim for the stars and you might hit the mountain tops". I've embraced the "aim for the stars" part just fine through the years, regularly setting myself ridiculously high standards, and resolving to achieve at the very least six impossible things before breakfast, but I have tended to assume that anything less than a stellar success rate was grounds for early despair...
Not the stuff of which successful New Year resolvers are made, in short.
However, wandering around the internet on this last day of my holidays, I've been struck by how many wise and sensible approaches to the whole "new year, new start" thing there are. OK, so I've never got anywhere before, but I've also never made my hopes or intentions public - and I'm wondering if a measure of accountability to my friends may help to sustain my resolve, particularly if I am at least slightly realistic in my ambitions.

So - I have three things in my sights as 2008 begins (in no particular order)
  1. To take the dogs out for at least some sort of walk myself every. single. day. The dogs need it - and I probably need it even more, as cycling round the parish never seems to be enough to encourage anything like fitness (and when I move, I suspect that cycling may actually become harder too)
  2. To restrict on-line playtime to before Morning Prayer and after Evening Prayer only from Monday to Friday (day off excepted). The possibilities of infinite diversion are just too great, and a day of non achievement sends me grumpy to bed!
  3. (The biggie) To do things on time - maybe to set myself artificial deadlines if that's what it takes to get stuff done (yes, even expenses) (I do recognise the irony of posting this on the second day of the New Year - but Rome wasn't built in a day, so I'm not going to get picky!)
Thus far, I've managed with number 1, and I don't return to work till tomorrow so numbers 2 & 3 have yet to become issues. Wish me luck, blogmates

Big Spender!

Baby Car isn't the only one whose New Year's Day behaviour really mustn't become a habit.
I had a very exciting day myself - but it was rather expensive.
You see, I finally managed to book the flights (not too costly thanks to some saved air miles) and pay the rest of the money due for the RevGals Big Event. I can't quite believe that I'm going to America for the very first time but for only one week. If that's not mad enough,the week concerned happens to be in the brief gap between leaving St M's and arriving in my new parishes....the week when we're moving house, in fact. Yes, that week!
But if not now, then, I suspect, never...and the opportunity to meet irl so many online friends, to be part of that supportive community immediately before a new chapter in ministry begins for me, and to learn, I'm sure, from the official sessions as well as from just being together is simply unmissable.

So - out came my credit card.

And, while I was at it, Hugger Steward and I finally settled on my new laptop.
The quest to avoid Vista meant that we had fewer options - but opinion seems unanimous that XP is a much safer system (even the man in Generally Clueless Computer Shop agreed, despite the fact that this radically reduced his chances of selling us a computer) and we found something that meets all my needs (apart from being a Mac, that is....) that came in at £1.28 below my budget!
I've told Hugger Steward he can keep the change as commission - and am locking up my credit card for the rest of the month.

A New Year's silly

before I go back to work, (with thanks to Sue)

The Recipe For Kathryn

3 parts Inspiration
2 parts Charisma
1 part Playfulness

Splash of Fun

Sip slowly on the beach

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I'm hoping

that beloved Baby Car has not started the New Year as it means to go on. I had to abandon the drive to take Hugger Steward to his New Year's Eve festivities after the car cut out completely and refused to start...Of course, once reinforcements had arrived in the shape of Longsuffering Clockmaker, the car behaved beautifully allll the way home (LCM took HS to the party, so that was OK too)...but this morning Baby Car had the vapours all over again as I drove to collect him. However, with a couple of rests we managed the journey there and back safely and I'm just sooo glad that I lent my car to Hattie G. The thought of a carload of students stuck on a dark road somewhere on New Year's Eve is scarcely a reassuring topic for maternal contemplation - but as it is, she phoned just after midnight full of joy, while we too had an excellent evening, that featured good friends AND a chocolate fountain.
With that in mind, tis as well that my most achievable resolution involves daily exercise for both dogs and curate....though I can't see my joining the ranks of those who set out first thing this morning to jog round the village in shiney new trainers any time soon.

My phone and my in-box are full of New Year messages from many directions, all so much appreciated...but I particularly like this, from friends in India. Nobody could argue with the sentiments, - and the expression of them is rather charming too I think. So, by way of a New Year card to all of you
"May this year fill you with all the joy and peaces to reflesh your soul and God give you the strenght to perserve in all that 2008 has in store for you"...

or, if you prefer it straight