A lovely student arrived back from the coffee shop with a wonderful black americano for me in this cup.
Enjoying the simple things, noticing, naming and acknowledging them is a way of focusing on gratitude and punctuating the day with what brings you life.
For me they are things like the first hour of the day when I ground myself with spiritual practices and set up the day. Another is my first cup of coffee. Watching the birds on our feeders is such a joy. A daily walk is another simple thing I enjoy. My lunchtime bowl of home made soup is a simple meal but feels so nourishing.
It feels like my day begins when I walk downstairs. I have a routine, turn the radio on, fill the kettle, drink some water, empty the dishwasher… Going down these steps is a little more exciting than walking down my stairs at home! So many journeys have an unseen destination, you are not quite sure exactly where you are going and you have choices to make along the way.
Summer has a bit of space to walk down the steps and not worry too much about where to go as the deadlines and constraints of work life take a back seat for a while. Space to meander and explore, leaving behind some of the burdens of everyday is a necessary treat for me.
This is a wild honeysuckle growing in a wood or forest we can’t find a name for near the chicks in the chapel’s new home. This type of honeysuckle grows towards the light which, in an overgrown forest, is upward. I was fascinated by this picture of a dead silver birch scaffolding fragrant, delicate honeysuckle which eventually may have red berries, poisonous to me but not to the birds. It is amazing what I can learn from Gardener’s World!
I am reading a few things at the moment, largely on social media, about what may die and what may live or grow or blossom as we emerge from lockdown. I am still dismayed to who is dying and the systemic issues that have caused this and find the rhetoric of we are doing well so hard to listen to. And despite many prayers over so long I still find it hard to hope that our self centredness and lack of regard for others and for an understanding of global citizenship, equity, dignity and respect. A more just and fair world is something I long for while admitting that I don’t always make the choices that contribute towards this. I interviewed a potential student yesterday and one of the questions we ask is what do you think should be too of the government’s agenda, she quickly replied, equality.
We like many people have had more time at home on our hands. There has perhaps been more DIY and gardening happening in the last 6 weeks than any other time in UK history. I have particularly enjoyed people’s before and after photos and thought I would do the same with some garden furniture that had been long neglected. It is difficult to discern what is my most powerful feeling, the sense of achievement or the embarrassment of it being so bad in the first place!
One of the commonly heard covid-19 reflections over the past few weeks is, as we we consider different stages of unlocking, whether there will be long lasting change in individual lives or society or will we just go back to the way things were. The logic of the former is that covid-19 affected almost every aspect of everybody’s lives, that we can’t possibly be the same ever again. The latter group reflect that human beings are human beings with all our frailities and struggles to survive, we will move very quickly to go back to looking after number one. I want to be in the first camp but part of me speculates that we might move back to pre covid attitudes, values, self concerns etc too quickly.
I have got old enough now that sometimes I hope I’m wrong. I would love to think that one of the legacies and redemptions of covid-19 is that humanity will be reminded that no person can really be and live in isolation or as an island. That all our lives on every continent are interlinked. That there are individual and global consequences to all our actions, and the ethics of “well that’s ok to do that because it doesn’t affect anybody” will be found to be a permanent fallacy. What camp are you in?
While I don’t actually believe this I do like the principle behind it which for me is about doing little things that do make me happy. I am in a season at work of having to do a lot of functional writing which requires attention to detail and not a lot of creativity. Those are particularly the times when making some choices to do things that bring me life and make me happy are important.
Friday however, is tea and cake day and it has become one of the small rituals that punctuates our lives and marks the beginning of the weekend when we move into a different rhythm. So I now need to post this and go off and make rock cakes!
We watched the end of ET on Christmas Day, a film I remember from a Christmas long ago. In the final scene between Elliott and ET Elliott asks ET to stay and ET asks Elliott to come with him. Neither was possible. Then ET taps Elliott on the side of the head and says in essence he will be in his mind.
This is a time of year when there can be lots of tensions between stay and come as we juggle priorities and responsibilities. It is also a time of year when some people are there in our mind because there is no longer the option of stay or come…
Difficult choices are an integral part of life and one of my hopes for this new year is that I will have more wisdom as I seek to make them.
Paul doesn’t always enjoy coming food shopping with me, in fact he tends to head straight for the cafe. It is in part because I can stand looking at the range of choices over a particular product and not be able to make my mind up.
However, that I have choices is in part an illusion – there are, for example, a small array of apples that I might choose most of the time (with a few seasonal exceptions) – largely well known varieties, often imported and looking fairly uniform. The other weekend we went to Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire and there were lots of apples I’d never heard of in a tent and you could buy a bag and try all sorts, some of which went back to Victorian times. I ate one of these – attracted by the religious name no doubt. As in many areas others limit my choices and these decisions impact others – I don’t need uniformly shaped fruit and vegetables – taste is what matters. I am concerned about what gets discarded because it doesn’t fit the image – we are stewards of what God has given and much of it is like me, a little flawed and blemished but still worth a try.