Decisions, Decisions

I’m trying to make my mind up about something that I think might be useful, faith stretching and fun. It will also be tiring, have some personal cost and slightly infringe on a place I really enjoy escaping to and being part of. I’m having a hard time making the decision, which I don’t really need to make for a week or so, but I find it sits under the ordinary things I’m doing.  It’s the downside of living alone – not enough distractions, too much time to think! A good friend has written me a detailed email which did the thinking I was too enthusiastic and shallow to do, and I’ve taken the time to ponder it with my notebook and a coffee after a failed attempt to swim in the crowded-with-kids-no-adult lanes pool yesterday.

Faith is stepping out your comfort zone, faith is faithfulness, faith is baby steps and trusting in the dark. Faith is also saying no to things that might be hurtful and having the guts to stick by the decision.  Looking ahead down the motorway of life and reading the sign that says “take diversion, accident ahead”.

It’s an option I was open to a while ago but too scared to jump into, but offered now in a more risk averse way.  Short of prayer-by-notebook and pondering, and realising that I am ramping my own anxiety level by over thinking on a summer day when I don’t need to, I find it hard to decide. God doesn’t, in my experience, tend to start a conversation with “go to..and say..” or “here’s a big sign in the sky telling you nice and plain to do….whatever”


Library Happiness

I grew up with a library card – a real life piece of orange card;

that got stamped, I think.  It was my ticket to hobbits, knights, adventure books, history.

An omnivorous reader, I still haunt the place.  The card is on my keys now alongside an enamalled bear.

What harm we are doing reducing their funding.  How do people survive without them?

Where else would I come home with a book about a Samoan MMA fighter I have never heard of (I wanted a thin biography) (Mark Hunt) a murder mystery (Sister Fidelma – Irish crime solver extraordinare) and an order for The time travellers guide to Restoration England?!!

I spend a solid amount of time in the garden, freezing my feet off sitting on a plastic wicker chair in the cool of evening, reading into other worlds.

A cup of tea and the sounds of neighbours, the cheeps of the sparrows and the hum of the road through summer open windows.


No it’s not a CIA inspired series for small people with fishing rods and pointy hats.  I have had the privilege for more years than I care to admit, to be welcomed into a second lovely family.  I tend to walk in the door, put the kettle on, do the washing up, kiss Bill, hug Maureen and read their radio times! I’ve gone to a family funeral, boxing days, and a lot of the best parties I can imagine.  I hate parties – formal clothes, too much booze, endless small talk.  But here I’ve played table football, pass the parcel without forfeits and card games, stood on chairs to put up balloons and made endless sandwiches. No pressure.  I’ve even been to a fancy dress party and formal black tie dinner with them.  Two of my worst nightmare scenarios!!  Having no brothers or sisters, it’s been great gaining an extra dimension of family belonging-ness even if it is loud, extravert and you never know what’s coming next.

But the flip side is the garden.  These are two of the warmest people with the craziest tastes.  Gnomes, plastic donkeys, ceramic fairies, an easter island head in plastic.  The gnomes are painted and repainted: some are noseless, some have collapsed faces.  No gnome seems too grotesque to be thrown away.  My friend spends days painting her mum’s rescue gnome collection and all I can do is sit there helpless with laughter, tea and lemon cake.  At least my real first family mum only collects plastic owls.  And I have “Dolly the sheep” or Hild as she got christened – she’s from a German friend. I hope she’s not going to be cloned any time soon.


Sparrow O’Clock

In summer the sparrows are waking at 4am. There’s a “chack chack” chorus from the greenery over the back wall.  With a light accompaniment of thin, thready song, which I suspect is robin wake up warbling. I’ve been sleeping in the back bedroom as the sash window isn’t so busted and opens letting in more breezes.  And air con hum from the shop over the wall, and breaking bottles from the bottle bank..and the sparrow alarm clock.

They dust bathe in my back yard.  Perch on the fence, dart down to flick feathers and find crumbs and whatever else sparrows find in moss and basic pottery pots back yard.

If they didn’t wake me up so early I would think more of the fact that Jesus talks about God caring about them and me, and less about why the heck they are so very noisy and unmusical!


Cake, white linen and neanderthals….

It’s been an interesting week really.  It started with a sermon that made me think.

I heard echoes of the rider on the white horse whose name is faithful and true

who leads out the armies of heaven dressed in white linen. (no not a sermon on revelation – but on Habakkuk!)

And I thought, what an impractical uniform for war.  Wearing linen I feel on egg shells each mealtime for spills, dressed in my best with the breeze blown through the weave.

White wear for a bride, not the blood of battle.  Only an army confident of overwhelming victory is going to war in such a suit.

Then I went home and watched a programme on BBC 2 on neanderthals.  Like you do!

I’m hooked, can’t wait for the next installment this Sunday.  Recreating a man’s face from a skull, 3D graphics, “neanderthal avatars” trying out kick boxing and break dancing…(BBC2 Neanderthals/meet your ancestors) Fast, powerful and lethal in a fight. I used to talk TV history programmes with my good friend Carol and I am sure she’d have loved this one. Maybe blogging about it honours her memory somehow.

Today I sat in the morning sun on a ratty picnic table with a manager in sunglasses with a cake box under her arm being fed distilled hope on my job.  Friday is a very nice place to get to.

Thank you for bearing with a little whimsy.  Especially as I’m stone cold sober.  Not even a bud “prohibition beer” in sight.

Sunburn Saturday

First Saturday in the month I walk.  Sometimes (like today) I have to make sandwiches prior, pack the rucksack, find walking clothes and talk sternly to my lazy Saturday seeking self to “GET OUT OF BED” It’s an early start and the bed is warm.  I have data processing back – sore and locked up.  And zero enthusiasm.  I walk into town with robin and long tail tits singing in the flowering cherry trees and flood my system with good filter coffee. And a little bit of joy comes back into the world!

Suitably drugged with caffeine, and with a friend making excuses to the group for my total inability to make small talk we plod along under blue “photoshopped it can’t be real” sky.  Chiff chaff and blackbirds hum and warble and the bird watcher in me thinks I hear a green woodpecker.  But it could just be someone laughing along the heathland.

Soft cotton washed beech leaves, the twisted sleeper planks laid across bog, walls patched with river tumbled pebbles from the pebblebed heath.  The sunbed coconut waft of ripening gorse and I’m searching for wheatears with their bandit black masks as we trail along.  Needless to say we don’t see any.

It’s a lovely day.  I hope it lasts, but if not I’m grateful.

Spring rains

I’ve just come back from Lee Abbey, which isn’t an abbey – but a Christian retreat centre, a lovely community centred place in the depths of Devon countryside, banked by hills and dipping down to coves and beaches of creamy waves and deep jade sea.  Very steep hills! After a week of sun I guess I hoped for more of the same, but the valley was pretty solidly rain washed for a lot of the week. I have excellent waterproofs so I was smugly comfortable all week despite needing windscreen wipers for the glasses.

I was booked in for a teaching week on living a reflective life -(which would normally be very appealing to me) but one look at the beautiful countryside made me long to be outside and having a fun week! It felt very positive to tell fellow guests that I was having a holiday while they were inside, being quiet; silence and reflection are fine, but not when I can hear rooks aarghing in the trees, see fritallaries in the grass and have waves to stare at and chase up a beach.  And primroses, violets and new emerging beech and hazel which spatter the hillsides like a pattern on a grey green shawl.

I realise, this week, how much guilt I can carry – I am a book lover who always reads the books I buy.  I spoke to folk who buy books and never get round to reading them, who have not the faintest flicker of guilt.  If I have a passion in life, it would be sharing good books with people to encourage them.  Yet, I feel guilty when I buy books I don’t need – maybe it’s a childhood spent in a public library, where books were presents for birthday and Christmas? Two new books make the rucksack of returning feel heavier!

So this week is learning to live a little after a fairly dark few months.  Mornings out in the sun or rain, walking through mud and up and down the lovely Devon hills and cliff paths, drinking coffee and sneaking cake (because we are well fed already) in small shops instead of costa, afternoons repeating the walking but with company. I guess that’s the kind of holiday that feels renewing for me.  Little pressure, lots of weather, gentle silence, and a backdrop of water – seascapes, streams, and standing pools of the stuff all over the roads on the way home.