A while ago I worked through a calculate your carbon footprint quiz http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/ And was pleasantly surprised – rarely flying, and not having the cash to buy much put me below the UK average. Frustratingly if I had the money to double glaze my windows instead of having rattling, contemporary with the house sash windows, I would have scored higher. But the thing that really let me down was not buying locally produced fruit and vegetables.
I’ve just read Barbara Kingsolver’s brilliant, funny, enlightening book “Animal, vegatable, miracle” which charts her family through a year of attempting to eat locally. They have a plot of land and animals so that’s feasible for them. It made me want to go back to having an organic veggie box. A while ago, this excellent scheme fed me some very odd vegetables, and so much kale that I finally gave in. I am not kale’s best friend and hiding it in curry only works for some of it. Researching the various schemes again, I find it will cost me just under half my months food budget for 4 boxes. Which if I was a vegetarian, I suppose might be viable. Jury’s out. I am reaching frustration level with tesco and co-op – while I can see apples on trees in Exeter, they are importing from South Africa and New Zealand. Any local solutions would be appreciated – in the meantime I will try the real food company. Or eat South African again.
This is where I wish for a fancy camera so you can admire the beautiful details of the fresh fallen acorn rather than my square built hand. 17th August is a memorial day for me. So the bible verse “To all who mourn in Israel he will give a crown of beauty for ashes/a joyous blessing instead of mourning/festive praise instead of despair/In their righteousness they will be like great oaks/that the Lord has planted for his own glory” (Isaiah 61) has been a delight many times in my life. And today walking back from collecting chocolate for me and a colleague, I saw the green acorn and remembered. It’s a good reason to squirrel bible away because it comes back, apt, green and freshly minted when needed. Writing helped too, far too diamond sharp to share on a blog. Enough to say that two years later I still hear my dear friend say “put some socks on” when, like tonight I complain my feet are freezing and I’m barefoot. It seems apt too, for the season at work. Despair is not a place I want to go to even if festive praise sounds a bit too Christmassy and celebrative!
Ok, it’s not September and I haven’t been reading tacky fiction! I’ve been told my job is going to be made part time (for me that’s redundant – I can’t afford part time) Just that our managers don’t seem to know when..so I have a little “sword of damacles” hanging over me! And we do have CCTV…
Friends kindly (repeatedly) tell me God has a plan for me. For me it’s a bit like trying to see Magic Eye pictures – I don’t have binocular vision, so however hard I stare, I can’t see the image. I find it frustrating. By nature I’m a black hat thinker (for those who also like Edward de Bono’s “6 thinking hats”) and I see things by faith with huge and very learned difficulty. But I find what works for me is doing the incredibly hard plod work of applying for jobs, sorting the CV, talking to recruiters, buying work shirts (I’ve worn uniform for 12 years) and selling the promotable (apparently) concept of me to folk. That’s hard for a competent person who lets their work do the talking.
And by faith, trying to stay in touch with the King of the Universe, who promises daily bread, strength sufficient for each day but who doesn’t as far as I can see guarantee an easy ride in life.
Little stabs of clean white light come through – being headhunted for a vacancy – which I didn’t get – but which provided encouragement and good feedback. I know it’s grey pre dawn in my world, and that awkward light has the effect of distorting what I can see and that my friends are right. But it’s like my attempts at map reading – I find it hard to relate the symbols of the map to the contours and bogs and weird shape rock formations I can see in front of me. Symbols are always difficult for me! So each morning I’m praying (Ok some mornings) ” May he guide me through the wilderness, protect me through the storm, may he bring me home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown me, may he bring me home rejoicing once again into my door” (Northumbria Community Celtic morning prayer, adapted for those who don’t live in community)
I can’t write anything coherent except paint blistering prose, so I will be back writing in September when hopefully life will feel a little wiser So here’s a little photo to fill out an inadequate post. If you know me personally, you know why the prose is a little lacking in finesse. Life can throw interesting things at you sometimes.
Catching up with a friend who has moved back to Germany has been so lovely. We share a fairly leisurely rivalry in who can see the best birds! Hence the interesting design of the socks below. My only hoopoe was seen in Spain: that moment when you say “hoopoe – can’t be”. Matching kingfishers seen in the Wye Valley with the oh so common Germany residents of crane and stork is not easy! A bee keeper, she tells me facts that make the fancy jar of honey so much more treasured than my current “everyday value” tesco honey. Which is having to be dug out the jar as it has set, rock like. Real honey it seems is an art – a lengthy process made with skill. It’s always interesting to compare notes on the amount of grey each of us is acquiring too.
My doctor advised me to rest, not talk. How does someone who spends their working life on a phone do that? I even pray out loud! I’ve signed up for a silent retreat in October – the source of much mirth and wonder among my friends but the quiet reflective bit of me that I would really rather not show too often is secretly looking forward to it. So this is a bit of a cheat – here’s what I wrote the last time I did one of these strange things.
In silence, I notice the ruby red fur on a cow’s back and its curly ginger eyelashes. Hunting owls provide surround sound to head torch beach walks. My retreat guide smiles as I park my boots and attend sessions in thick socks. I walk my praying, sitting by the sea, high up on a cliff: I like to pray aloud.
In silence, people have odd breakfasts: toast, plastered in marmite, so I have grapefruit, yogurt and the bits that normally go with bacon and sausage – which seem to have escaped the menu. I’m noticing faces more: calm ones, easy read ones, poker players, those whose noses don’t leave their book. I don’t feel badly dressed wearing my “not all who wander are lost” T shirt. My breakfast neighbour has flamboyant shirts – they cheer my mornings.
In silence, I paddle in icy rock pools, slide on my backside down wet rock. Get a coffee fix in Lynton that’s a real live “word from God”, see a kestrel preening on a post – amd have only God to share it with. Take photos of fungi, get hopelessly lost (see T shirt) climb over gates and wire. In short I have fun – it beats being at work. Well, mostly, I miss the usual “doing stuff”
In silence, I sleep, and soak in woodland colours and feel the centre of me fill up again like a dry aquifer refilling. It’s peaceful here. The peace is inside too. But outside is the storm. I hear God speak to me through biblical “Job” out the storm, the whirlwind, the Lord answered Job. And me.
I feel I owe myself an explanation for writing so much so fast, so frequent – just so, really. I’ve kept various formats of journal for years – a writing notes computer one, paper bible study notes notebook, a written journal and recently, after taking a journalling course, a colourful, erratic, badly written one complete with stuck in bits of paper, bad drawings and as much honesty as I can muster. I feel pretty much that unless I can see what I think written down, then I can’t think. I’ve tried explaining this to a more conventional headed friend, to a completely blank look- I even have to write down the answers to the bible study questions. I would say that my first heart language is written words. Spoken language is more challenging: when I first tried to talk about my life and background with someone who genuinely wanted to be God’s loving and kind listening ears, I felt like I had been strangled. I needed a couple of gin and tonics to talk even that fluently. But I am slowly finding those words with people who have very gently coaxed this tortoise of a person out of their shell. Because I am no longer the person I once was, and I can remember being this person all too clearly. I think that’s why I so appreciate hearing other people’s stories, because I have hopefully learned a little gentleness from the difficulties of learning to become even a tiny bit more the person God had in mind. It’s exciting, watching people grow and change.
So for me, writing a blog is interesting! The equivalent of being superman – either hiding in a phone box, or wearing a big fat S on your shirt and your underpants over your trousers! Someone who would be classed as a quiet and reserved person, attempting to explain the scrapbook of assorted bits and pieces that lurk like a kids kaleidoscope in your head.