Monday, 9 December 2013


Now is the winter of my ministry Made glorious Advent by this week’s Retreat; And all the work that lour'd upon my desk In piles of papers lie to the side buried. Now is my brow less furrowed with sermon text; My PCC Agendas hung up for monuments; My diary engagements changed to merry meetings, And a wondrous march to delightful southern coast. Grim-visaged congregations hath smooth'd their wrinkled front; And now, instead of calling on the ‘phone To fright my soul with fearful news and plight, The instrument lies soundless and ringeth not. And though I to foreign Brugge have often gone, Not now traverseth I the watery main, For gentle Sisters there doth not a Guest House run, But concentrate their thought on matters spiritual. And so without a tonne of chocolate must I live, And quench my thirst with local brew Instead of wondrous ale. And yet, I shall partake of pleasant company Upon the shores of Merrie England, And sup and dine and give the gifts That doth this coming Season make.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Getting there

The painter finished his work last Thursday, and so since then it has been a case of restocking the rooms with my possessions that have been stored in the two large sea-going containers on my front lawn. By Sunday night they were empty, though the interior of the sitting room, study and two upstairs bedrooms rooms looked like the Vikings had just raided, though without the accompanying rape! Tonight, Tuesday, the downstairs rooms are back in operation and work continues with the bedrooms. One of 95% there, and the other is about 50%. By the end of this week we should be ship-shape again.

It's been somewhat disturbing having my home and workplace in upheaval, more so than I anticipated, and there have been unexpected stress-related consequences. And we're not finished yet ... there's the containers to be collected (next Monday) and then both drives remodelled and re-laid, and a new garage door.

Guests arrive mid-November. We should be ready to receive them by then.


Friday, 13 September 2013

I feel honoured ....

... four builders have turned up today. There's banging and heaving in all directions, and I'm waiting for something major to fall out!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Dampening down

The builders were due to resume their work on the house tomorrow (Tuesday) but have put it off until Wednesday as the forecast for tomorrow is wet and windy. They clearly haven't taken note of the Wednesday forecast! More rain! It remains to be seen if they turn up that morning.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A fortnight's grace

Leaving aside the Gospel message I received as a comment on my previous post about Freecycle (and quite why that particular little post should have brought about a plea for my salvation), there has now been a 2-week hiatus in the building and repair works to the Parsonage. I only have myself to blame since I stuck my proverbial oar in and once the 18th century beam in the sitting room ceiling was exposed, asked the Structural Engineer to revisit and re-think his plans to remove it and replace it with a steel girder. I feel justified in making this request since the plans were drawn up with only an inch or so of the old beam visible in the ceiling. Now that it's all exposed the dimensions are revealed, and so I have requested that the Diocese doesn't rip out a beam that has been in situ since 1790 without considering if it can be strengthened. The upshot is that they have agreed to this, which means new drawings have to be done and new steels ordered. So the lack of progress is down to me. I bet my name's mud ..... but I have conservation smile on my face.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Freecyling rules!

I never cease to be amazed at the power of the Freecycle network to have needs met and offers taken up. Last week I advertised a pair of wing-back Parker Knoll style chairs which I inherited from my parents, and they were allocated to someone moving into their first home within 6 hours. Today I put up an Edwardian dressing table and the first of many requests arrived within 30 minutes. It's being collected tomorrow. Now, what else can I get rid of?

Sunday, 4 August 2013

I will tear down my barns .....

An interesting morning service of Holy Communion today, interrupted by a farmer who asked us to move some of our cars in order to drive his huge combine harvester down the road. It raises the question over scale, and whether or not the desire for larger machines is out of proportion to the infrastructure of the area. The incident (a repeat of one last year) slotted well into today's Gospel reading about the farmer tearing down his barns to build bigger ones. Change the word barns for tractors and the parallel is complete. I will sell my old farm equipment for new and larger ones and say to my soul, you have wealth amassed; eat, drink and be merry. As the farmer disappeared out of the door with one of the drivers I commented to the congregation that maybe he could have joined us for worship instead, and had the vehicles moved when the service was finished. But that was a silly idea.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Not really a coronation pic ....

... but one I couldn't resist having discovered this issue lurking at the far end of the bookshelf in one of the smallest rooms in the vicarage!

This is my last royal post on the subject .....

.... until I find something else, that is.

Royal Flush

A mediocre turnout for our special "Coronation" Eucharist yesterday morning. Clearly didn't catch the imagination of the local population.

Watching the film of the 1953 Coronation service on the BBC Parliament channel later on I was not impressed by the droning monotone delivery of the Archbishop as he took the ceemony and the BCP Holy Communion. In my training I was introduced to the principle that the words should be recited without any personal emphasis, but this did seem drear in the extreme, and I wonder how many people lost attention as he wittered on and on.

Recently having read "Flushed with Pride" by Wallace Reyburn, which tells of the life and work of Thomas Crapper, Plumber By Appointment to King Edward VII, who designed and pateneted many developments of the modern water closet, I came across this nugget which bears repeating on this Diamond anniversary of the throne.

One of the challenges facing him was to design a silent flush system so that the rest of the household would not be disturbed by someone taking their easement in the smallest room. At the start of the 20th century he designed two refinements to what became the Marlboro’ Silent Water Waste Preventer which, whilst they didn’t prevent the “ hissing and the gurgling” as claimed, at least minimised it. Modern inventors have got rid of some of the gushing noise down in the pan, by developing the siphonic trap, but truly silent flushes still elude them and it was cause for worry on a Royal level.

Prior to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2nd 1953, those responsible for organising the event were concerned, among other things, about the matter of the special needs of the great number of Peers who would be assembled in Westminster Abbey, many of whom were well on in years and not able, with the best will in the world, to stay settled in one place for long periods, as the lengthy ceremony demanded. It was known that the very aptly named “peer’s bladder”, (a small device worn under the robes) would come to their aid, but there was more to it than that. So an additional “range” of toilets, as they call it in the trade, had to be installed to cope with the expected increased demand.

Then somebody got the frightening thought that at the vital moment of the ceremony, when the whole Abbey would be in hushed silence as the crown was being placed on the Queen's head, there might be one of those terrible coincidences whereby all the toilets happened to be occupied and all their occupants pulled the chain at the same time. Would the strains of that symphonic flush penetrate into the body of the Abbey and create one of the major embarrassments in the history of British Royalty? There was nothing for it but to have a test.

A detachment of Guards from nearby Wellington Barracks was pressed into service, and as technicians borrowed from the BBC, each armed with a decibel meter, were stationed at various key points in the main part of the Abbey, the troops were deployed along the long line of toilets. It is not known what form of drill was evolved for this unique exercise. It was probably something like: ‘At the command, “Chains-PULL” . . . wait for it!’ Anyway, as the order rang out all the toilets were flushed simultaneously and the good news from inside the Abbey was that nothing could be heard of the noises off.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

It was 20 years ago today .....

Sgt Pepper taught the band to play ... etc.
Well, that's as may be, but 20 years ago today I had wandered from Montreuil-Bellay to Airvault and then on to Thezanay, the first part by bus, then on foot, en-route to the Black Virgin of Rocamadour.

I slept undisturbed until about 7.00 a.m. and forty-five minutes later breakfasted in the bar on fresh rolls, butter, preserves, and a large black coffee. Having packed and paid my bill, I made my way down to the bus stop, buying a couple more postcards on the way and attempting to look inside the 12th century Augustinian priory church which, as I expected, was locked, the notice attached to its door implying that it was never open for visitors.

I was the only person at the bus stop, my presence seeming to interest not only the local children making their way to the primary school on the opposite side of the road, but also the builders working in the house behind me, who stopped for a moment to gaze at this early morning apparition in bush hat, dark glasses and rucsac, leaning against the garden wall munching on a tube of Smarties. Five minutes late at 9.15 a.m. the coach arrived. I paid my 17 francs, the eighteen kilometres down the arrow straight D938 to Thouars working out at about 11p per mile. The journey lasted just over fifteen minutes and as well as getting me to the town not only took me out of the Maine et Loire departement and into Deux Sèvres, but also onto my fourth map.

Getting off at the main railway station I went into the booking hall to see about transport down to Airvault. Studying the various timetables I soon discovered a service leaving at 11.16 a.m. and went across to the ticket office to purchase my "billet", only to be informed that this was not a train route but another bus connection. Re checking the timetable I now saw the word "Autobus” in big letters at the top, so, placing my pack on the floor, I sat down on one of the ubiquitous red plastic chairs that seem to infest public transport waiting rooms to while away the hour and a half until it arrived.

This bus was right on time, and the twenty four and a half mile trip to Airvault cost me a further 22 francs. Unlike the first part of this day's drive, this was a rambling country route, coming off the D938 just out of Thouars and taking the smaller D135 to visit St. Varent, then re crossing the main road and going off to the hamlets of Soussigny and Soulievres before arriving at the larger sprawl of Airvault. This was an unimpressive town at first sight, its outer environs appearing to consist mainly of factory units. However, as the bus negotiated the steep narrow streets, the age of the place became ever more apparent, and when I was dropped off in the upper market square at ten minutes to twelve, I was looking forward to exploring the place in order to find somewhere for lunch. My first steps though were inauspicious, for having used the benches in the bus shelter to assist in heaving on my pack, I then missed the single step in the doorway, lurching headlong into the square and its weekly market with muttered oaths and flailing staff, much to the amusement of several locals and stall holders. I rapidly regained my composure and my balance and strode on.

And so the journey continued .....

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Walking through France

20 years ago today I was on the second day of my walking pilgrimage through France from St. Malo to the shrine at Rocamadour in the Dordogne. The first day had taken me from St. Malo to the small town of Lanhélin where I stopped for the night in a little comfortable hotel.

7th May 1993

It was another sunny morning, and at twenty minutes to ten I heaved on the rucsac, almost impaled myself on my staff as I negotiated the doorway, and waddled across to the bar to pay my bill. This came to 226 francs - 150 for the room, 45 for the evening meal, 25 for breakfast, and 6 for the lemonade I had when I arrived. Paying the Madame, who always seemed to be singing wherever she was in the house, I left the hotel via the rear courtyard and came onto the street by the church. It was but a couple of hundred yards round the Post Office and right at the crossroads to get me back onto the D73 and the eight kilometre walk into the town of Combourg, and it was five minutes to ten as I left the precincts of Lanhélin. It was a fine morning to be walking and still cool enough to enjoy, although the high clouds bore the promise of a hot afternoon to come. The road was fairly straight, and twenty minutes later I exchanged my first "bonjour" of the day with a teenager who was playing pétanque on the gravelled courtyard cum driveway next to his isolated home. If I'd known more vocabulary, or felt more confident with the few words and phrases I possessed, I would have stopped and suggested a game, but as it was we simply acknowledged each other and I moved on.

The hamlet of le Plessis Margat, which I reached at about 10.20 a.m., was a real one horse place, with not even the horse in sight. The couple of houses seemed occupied, but it was like the aftermath of the bomb, not a living thing anywhere, and I passed through un-noticed.

Another hour of walking at a steady pace brought me to the outskirts of Combourg, and here I exchanged my second "bonjour" with a young boy riding his bicycle back up the road. At least he knew where he was going. The Michelin maps from which I was working were fine for the open road, but somewhat lacking in detail when it came to negotiating my way through urban landscapes. However here I was fortunate, for at the top of the hill as I entered the town was a sign for the Château, and by my reckoning the road I wanted out of the place led directly past this edifice. Following the Rue des Princes downhill the entrance gates appeared on my right, but I decided against stopping and doing the "tourist bit", and instead moved on down into the main shopping street. Here I located a small café on the left, slid off my sac, lumbered it inside to a table by the window, sat down and ordered myself a mid morning "grand chocolat chaud". I sat sipping it, studying the map for the next stage, and wondering what I had missed by not visiting the château.

I rested for some twenty five minutes in the café, then, having paid my bill, struggled out of the doorway, heaved on the pack, only to un-heave it again when I found the opportunity to buy some postcards from a shop two doors away. This done, I headed south out of town along the main D795, which took me past the lake where Chateaubriand used to sit and meditate. From here there was a magnificent view of the château, and I could appreciate the words he used to describe the scene: "There is silence, obscurity, and the visage of stone." Or at least I could have appreciated them if the silence hadn't been broken by the thundering traffic on this major link road, and if my obscurity hadn't been challenged by two french ladies who, walking abreast, forced me off the narrow pavement almost into the path of a group of cyclists pedalling past. Still, at least the "visage of stone" remained the same, and I took a few moments to actually look rather than glance at the marriage between water, trees and stone, which the Linon lake and château presented, before turning off along the smaller and quieter D82 for the seven kilometre stretch to Digné.

Once again, as was becoming the norm for this walk, my passage past the outlying houses of the town was accompanied by the snapping and snarling of a variety of dogs, thankfully enclosed in their gardens behind chicken wire or wooden fencing. This repeated procedure every time I came to civilisation was beginning to get on my nerves, and it was only the second day!

I arrived in the central square of the smaller town of Digné at ten minutes past one ready for some lunch, but there was none to be had. The only two places of refreshment that were open were simply bars with no food available, and as I sat in the less-dishevelled of the two sipping on a cool "Orangina", a lorry driver entered on the same quest, only to be told there were no snacks being served, and no restaurant in the town. He departed with a disappointed shrug of the shoulders, and I followed a few moments later, taking the D83 for Montreuil sur Ille.

This next town remains in my memory as the worst place I encountered in the whole of the trip, probably because of its lack of hospitality. On the map it appeared to be fairly promising with a main line railway station, and I felt sure that this would mean that there would be hotel accommodation of some sort to be found there. I would be grateful for the stop, for as I trudged the seven kilometres towards the town, past fields of cereals and grass, my feet and hips were beginning to protest, becoming quite uncomfortable. My practice was to take a break of ten minutes or so every hour, but I was now finding that once having stopped, my hips were seizing up and it was taking me another quarter of an hour to get moving freely again. For this reason Montreuil sur Ille began to appear more and more attractive to my mind as it got nearer, but as I entered its grey suburbs, parallel to the railway, I began to have doubts. It didn't have the air of somewhere that people would stop over, let alone stay, and my fears were realised when, having crossed the railway line and walked the length of the single main street, there wasn't an hotel nor bar to be seen. I couldn't even find anywhere to get a cup of coffee, and somewhat dispirited I found the D221 and followed it uphill out of the town. This would lead me to Aubigne, my planned destination for the day, but by now my feet were starting to hurt rather than protest, and espying a fairly secluded field, I stumbled over the ditch to see if it would be suitable in which to camp for the night. It wasn't too bad, with a reasonably level patch to one side underneath some trees, and so although it was only three o'clock in the afternoon, I erected my single man emergency tent, unrolled my sleep mat on the grass, and lay down and snoozed.

I was woken some twenty minutes later by the noise of a tractor rumbling past on the road, whose driver cast a querying look in my direction, and I began to reconsider my decision to stay here. The farm to which the field belonged was only a couple of hundred yards away, and I didn't want to get involved in a situation where in the small hours I would be trying to explain my presence to a shotgun-toting farmer, so I repacked everything and started out once more for Aubigné.

Reaching the village half an hour later I found it not to be the watering hole I'd imagined, but just a couple of dozen houses, a locked church and a closed bar, so I had little choice but to press on for the larger centre of St.Aubin d'Aubigné, confident that I would find overnight accommodation there. For some of the way this route via the D221 led me through woods, and I was able to take my ten minute rest in their shade, for the afternoon had indeed become quite hot, and I delved into the rucsac to find my sun bloc cream. It was three kilometres to the junction with the major N175, which runs south west to the major city of Rennes, and here I turned right for St.Aubin, which I could see on its hill another two kilometres away. Keeping well to the left hand side of this busy road so that I was facing the oncoming traffic, I headed downhill, wondering whether to stop at the transport café on the right for a drink, but decided instead to go on into the town and sort myself out for the night.

At several points along this road were signs advertising the "Hôtel des Voyagers", an auspicious sounding name to this pilgrim, and entering the town at just on five o'clock I made my way past the Gendarmerie and down to the crossroads where the hotel was located. This wasn't my day, for "des Voyagers" was well and truly closed with a faintly derelict air about it and yellowed newspapers crammed in its letter box. An enquiry at a small pancake take-away opposite produced the response that it had been closed for over a year, and that the nearest hotel was about seven kilometres away on the road to Ercé près Liffré. There was apparently no other accommodation in town, and so, whilst wondering what to do, I strolled through the fair that was in full swing along the main street. It was as I passed a side street on the right that I noticed a small sign reading "Presbytere" and pointing up the hill. Perhaps it was now time to put into action the two letters of recommendation that I was carrying, one from the Bishop of Salisbury and the other from the local Roman Catholic priest in Beaminster. Both asked the readers to give me assistance and hospitality if requested, so if I could only locate the local Curé I might still be able to find a bed.

The side street led me up into a new development of houses, none of which looked like a Presbytery, nor was there any further sign, and after wandering aimlessly up and down a few times, I stood at the edge of the estate hoping for some kind of divine guidance. At that moment, two elderly residents came out of one of the nearby houses and started to come down the street towards me. This was my chance, and accosting them with an "'excusez moi", I asked if the Presbytery was along this road. The old man glanced at his wife, looked me up and down, and gabbled something about it being a bit further up the hill. Not catching all of his reply I decided to try a different tack, and asked if the town had a Curé. At this husband and wife looked at each other, than at me, then at each other again before the man replied, "Oui." I tried again. "Is the Curé near here?" I asked in my appalling accent, no doubt getting the tenses of the words completely wrong. Now both husband and wife answered me simultaneously and I couldn't follow either of their replies. I put on my best hang dog expression. "I'm seeking hospitality." At this they both shrugged their shoulders, smiled apologetically and, suggesting that I tried the "Mairie" or Police station, walked off down the hill. I was still somewhat confused. It seemed that either there was a Curé, but he was away at one of his other churches taking a funeral and he wouldn't be back that night, or there had been a Curé, but he had died and his replacement had not yet arrived. Whichever was the case I'd drawn a blank, and with the time now half past five, trying the Town Hall would also be a dead loss. Nor did I fancy the idea of walking into the Gendarmerie and asking for accommodation. A night in a police cell wasn't my idea of pilgrimage hospitality.

I walked back to the main road, and with it beginning to look as if I was going to have to spend the night under canvas, I decided that I'd better buy some sort of provisions. Finding a small "Corsair supermarché" nearby, I bought a set of four small tubs of fruit purée, a two litre bottle of mineral water, and retired to the steps of a not-yet-open-for-business dodgem rink for some refreshment. Two fruit purées, some water, and a Mars bar later, I refilled my water bottle, and then stood up to pull on the rucsac, or should that be, I attempted to stand up. My hips had been pretty uncomfortable all day but now they were really seized, and I lurched to my feet, grasping on to the side wall of the dodgem rink for support as if I was "three sheets to the wind". Managing to lift the pack and twist it on, I gingerly bent down to pick up my staff, replaced my hat on my head, and swayed down the road, legs like boards, looking as if I'd just got off a horse having ridden across the Mongolian steppes. It was no wonder that I got a few odd looks from the people now thronging around the fair, and I was glad to get out of the town centre and onto a quieter road where my ambling gait wasn't a source of public amusement.

This time it took twenty minutes before things eased up and I was walking anywhere near properly, and by then I was some two kilometres out of the town along the D106 which would eventually lead me to the town of Liffré. But "not tonight, Josephine!" Enough was enough, and I began searching for a suitable field in which to camp. As I came to the junction with the D26 which led up into Ercé près Liffré I had the momentary idea of following it and trying to find the hotel mentioned by the pancake man, but as it would take me some way off my course I decided against it and carried on, past the house standing at the junction, and on out into the country. Ten minutes later I came to a fairly open piece of road bordered on the right by a high hedge, behind which was a ploughed field. With no sign of livestock, and the farm quite some distance away on the opposite hill, I decided that this was the place and, stepping over the ditch and through a hole in the hedge, I moved round so that I was hidden from the road and gratefully dropped my pack to the ground. Flattening out some of the long grass that was growing along the edge of the field I pitched the tent, unrolled the sleep mat, unpacked the medical kit, took off my trainers, and began to attend to the blisters that had formed on my feet. It was here that I suddenly realised that I had neglected to pack either a pin or a needle to do the necessary to those painful little sacks of fluid. Still, being an ex-scout, (I was a member of my school troop for eight weeks!), I had my trusty Swiss army style penknife, and using the only appropriate item on that, I proceeded to attack my feet with the corkscrew! It actually worked very well, but just don't ask me to open any bottles of wine if you've lost your usual implements!

It took me about half an hour to sort things out inside the tent so that I had enough room to get in alongside the contents of my pack, and then, as it was still light and a beautiful evening, I sat outside on the sleep mat just watching the world and thinking back over the day. My attempts at finding the local Curé reminded me of a comment made by John Gibbons in his account of his pilgrimage in 1928. He had actually prepared the way by writing to all the priests along his route, yet they were still elusive. No matter what time he called at the Presbytery the housekeeper always informed him that "Monsieur le Curé is out." If he replied that he would call again later it was, "Out, probably all night. May not indeed be home tomorrow." This unavailability he put down to his appearance which, as time went on, began to get ever more shabby, and he notes that "as soon as the woman caught sight of my trousers it was safe to assume that his reverence would be permanently out during the whole of any stay that I might be making in his village." Perhaps it was the same with me, not so much my trousers, for they were in good condition, special lightweight walking ones bought from a camping supplier in the Cotswolds and guaranteed to be quick drying in the event of rain, but possibly my rolling gait and quasi-antipodean hat. Walkers seem to be an oddity in France, not the common sight they are round our English lanes, and are cautiously treated as if we're all "tuppence short of a shilling!"

As the evening began to set in I wrote up my Log, composed several postcards, and then studied the map to see how far I had walked in the day. It totalled 32.5 km. which was a little further than yesterday at just over 20 miles. This was again beyond my minimum target, and therefore I could with an easy conscience do less on the morrow and stay at Châteaubourg where I knew there to be an hotel. What I really wanted was a long hot soak in a bath to help ease my aching hips and sore feet. However, for this night I would have to be content with a cocoon-like tent and a narrow sleeping bag, and as darkness fell I crawled inside, zipped shut the flap, and settled down.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A wider view

Boston strikes home because it is the innocent and the charity fund-raisers who have been caught up in it. However, it is almost always the innocent who suffer in such attacks. It behoves us to remember that such events are a day-to-day risk for many people in our world. On this same day, 37 people died in explosions in Baghdad.

Boston - 15th April 2013

Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, by John Donne

XVII. Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris.

Now, this bell tolling softly for another, says to me: Thou must die.

XVII. Meditation.

Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness. There was a contention as far as a suit (in which both piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled), which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another’s danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

(Thirty)-three in One

I recognise that there are going to be problems with telling the story of Jesus in just one liturgical year, and we try and do it through the traditional seasons of Advent, lent etc. but it has seemed to jar just a little bit this year with Easter followed closely by the transferred Feast of the Annunciation, and then next month we have Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity and Corpus Christi followed by the commemoration of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, until the whole story necomes a melange of infancy, boyhood, ministry, death and resurrection, and then feet sticking out of a cloud as he floats upwards into the heavens (not literally, of course, I know that!).

I wonder if it would help if we made the telling of the story spread over 3 years like our Lectionary readings? Now there's a thought.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Since it's cold enough, here's a frozen bunny to celebrate the Feast! Happy Easter!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

I hate Lent

I suppose I shouldn't say that, but as every annual Lant approaches I feel that it is less and less relevant to living the Christian faith. Then as the weeks meander by, I wonder why we need this yearly season of flagellation. It's certainly not to find favour with God, for there is no way we can influence our standing with the Almighty. It has more to do with making ourselves feel worthy and superior than it is to do with our faith. And so I openly admit that I haven't given up anything these last 5 weeks. Is my faith lessened because of this? No. Would my faith have been strengthened if I had denied myself something I enjoy? No. I would just have been more miserable. And God knows Im p'd off enough with the machinations of the organised CofE as it is, especially its bullying to use business audit approaches to the life of a parish. I am resisting it, and will continue to do so. Maybe waving the palms tomorrow will bring a bit of relief and uplifting of the spirit - though of course it all gets dashed to pieces again on Friday. Roll on Sunday, when the stone moves and I can smash open my Easter eggs!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Well and truly shriven

What would Shrove Tuesday be without pancakes? So the evening meal was a rather good Chicken & sweetcorn soup (from Tesco, nice and thick and full of both the main ingredients), followed by na baked potato filled with Boursin (mmmm garlic - no vampires dare come near me tonight), and then finally pancakes - with lemon and sugar, and then with golden syrup. With a mug of coffee I then watched the film "Cowboys & Aliens" - a good cast (Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford) and a good romp through the Wild West battling green-blooded invaders. All the bits for the Ash Wednesday service are sitting ready in my study, so onward into the next 40 days and nights. (I dislike Lent ..... I prefer my spiritual disciplines to be voluntarily taken rather than imposed at a set time period.) The "Big Brother" approach is typified by this wonderful Sunday School card ....
If I was Granville, I'd have told Miss Beckman where to put her empty chair ......

Sunday, 27 January 2013

At the Water Gate

An apt lesson from Nehemiah set for today ... Ezra reading the Law at the Jerusalem Water Gate. With all the water round here at the moment we need flippers in place of snowshoes. The rapid thaw has filled the ditches and many are overflowing onto our lanes. There are floods across some stretches of road that I've never seen inundated before. The area opposite the house and by the church luch gate looked like the Arctic this morning with large lumps of snow floating slowly across the tarmac. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a penguin sitting atop one of them.

Monday, 14 January 2013

A day out

Just occasionally I get a funeral that takes all day, and today is one of those times. The family have asked for a cremation in Bury St Edmunds, and since we have a 12.45 slot it means leaving home at about 11 in order to get collected by the undertakers outside the village church at 11.15. After Bury we come back to the village for a Memorial service at 2.45, so it will be about an hour before I can leave there and drive home.

If all goes smoothly I should be back here by about 4 .... however .... the forecast is for snow ....... so there's a shovel in the car and a thermos flask of hot coffee in my bag, plus I'm personally thermally covered (let the reader understand) and will be wearing my duffle coat with furry lining and hood just in case I need to walk any distance in order to get back to base. And already a few light flakes of snow have drifted past my study window ..... :)