Sunday, 31 December 2006

The gate of the year

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: "Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown!" And he replied: "Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."

Darkness has fallen on this New Year’s Eve, and shortly I shall be walking across the road and down the gravel path to take the Watchnight Compline in St. Margaret’s church. The candles will be lit, and we shall sit in their warm glow and sing “Here we come a-wassailing” and “Deck the halls” – perhaps a bit secular, but these traditional songs speak of the New Year and so are fitting for the occasion.

And what of my New Year resolutions? Well, my main one is to regain my fitness. When I was in post in the large Midlands Potteries city I had access to all sorts of sporting facilities. I swam once and often twice a week, and played badminton weekly, but since moving down here to this rural location the opportunities are limited. The nearby town has a swimming pool, which local wags consistently rename on the direction signs “Swim_in Poo_”, which is quite descriptive. When I’ve been there on the late night public swimming times the pool has always been full of corpulent ladies of the female sex resting after their hour-long “aqua-robics” session, and standing around in the Shallow End nattering, thus preventing anyone from doing decent lengths. I haven’t been for ages.

But, surrounded as I am by glorious countryside, there’s no real excuse. All I have to do is put on my walking boots and stride out of the door. There’s a straight-forward road walk of a mile to the Brewery and pub at St. Peter’s, but then I’d have to buy a mug of their ale for the return journey, which wouldn’t do me any good at all.

Or there’s a circular route that takes me across several fields and back towards the village at the rear of the Old Vicarage. It’s a good circuit, but not that long. I shall need to study the footpath map a bit more and find an extension.

Maybe the resolution should be, rather than regain my fitness, to get out and do a walk, anywhere. Having tramped over 360 miles through France a decade or so ago, I know how well regular walking takes the weight off, and how it tones the muscles. I just need to get up and do it.


“So, I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night, And He led me toward the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.”

From “The Desert” 1908
Minnie Louise Haskins 1876 - 1957

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