Up bright and early for the dog, who’s now curled up in his favourite lurking place by the stairwell. Miffcat’s inserted himself into a display unit on the dresser and is snoozing away happily. He seems to have taken a slight downward turn after the karma sutra reindeer ‘incident.’ He’s lost a lot of weight, and our main worry is tempting him to eat. He does have special renal food prescribed him by the vet, but at this stage any food is better than none. Hence the fridge is full of dinky little tupperwares containing such delicacies as tinned salmon, slices of roast beef, processed turkey slices, and turkey bits, home cooked by yours truly. Of course, being your typical fussy moggy, his tastes change from day to day and hour to hour. He refuses to eat what’s offered, then just as we’re tearing our hair out in despair, he’ll suddenly latch onto one particular food. So we’ll serve this up at the next meal, only to find that its no longer the flavour of the moment. Still, he doesn’t appear to be in any discomfort for now, and is still his old, affectionate self, jumping up onto your lap for cuddles, and even asking to go out into his little ‘garden.’ Meantime, he’s got his home comforts and all mod cons, with his bed next to the radiator and my pc, and litter box moved into the study, (a great concession but if you’re old and frail you wouldn’t fancy a long trail out to the equivalent of an outside loo every time you needed to wee, with the added possibility of being mugged by a hairy yeti each time you poked your nose outside home territory!).
Apologies if my blog’s starting to sound like one of those Christmas ‘Round Robins’ so beloved (or not) by Simon Hoggart. I’ve been rereading his ‘The Hamster That Loved Puccini – The Seven Modern Sins of Christmas Round Robin Letters’ – and am uncomfortably aware that I’ll probably end up in next year’s edition. I’ve always said we’ll never resort to producing one, but this last year I gave in and wrote a newsletter after Christmas in lieu of Christmas cards. The few I receive I actually love reading – especially as friends are scattered far and wide nowadays. It’s great to hear from them. But it’s just not ‘me’ or so I thought. However, needs must. The last year has been pretty grotty in many ways. Not that you’d guess it from the letter. And when writing cards threatens to become just another ‘thing to do’ on a long list of pre-Christmas chores, something had to give. So cards were kept for family only plus folk living locally to whom we could just hand over greetings. The letter writing itself was done during the quieter period after the day itself. And I found having the pressure off made such a difference and I could enjoy filling folks in on our goings-ons. Even if some of it was a teeny bit tongue in cheek. Of course it remains to be seen how many people will now drop me from their Christmas list because I didn’t return cards, but hey…that’s nearly a year ahead. ‘Sufficient unto the day’ etc.
Which leads to one of the reasons behind making that small change. It was partly prompted by the retreat I went on in early December. This was my second, silent, ‘guided’ retreat, and as I think I mentioned earlier, I was in desperate need of getting away. My first try at all this over a year ago I’d found to be a life-saver at a fairly tricky time, and so I’d deliberately re-booked for another on the premise that the way life was going, 2005 promised to be even tricker! As it was. Illness, family strains, work problems and decisions (Mr Miff’s and mine), the first fledgeling flying the nest, struggles with faith, niggles with church. Nothing we don’t all experience – mostly, but that doesn’t diminish the way it ‘chips’ away at you, and it was a rather weary, sagging, squished budgie that eventually – and after two posponements – dragged herself off into the wilds of Oxfordshire.
So. How did it ‘go?’ Well, let’s say. It was ‘different.’ The sister who ‘guided’ me remarked that quite often one’s second retreat does differ in impact and intensity from the first. No problems coping with the silence. That seems to be something that I slip into quite naturally. In fact it helped that the place I stayed in this time round had far more of an emphasis on this in that all the guests were there for the same purpose. No, I think the ‘problem’ if indeed you could class it as that, lay in my difficulty – (despite my protests to the contrary! ) in both unwinding and in getting out of the everyday busy mode and just well…’letting go and letting God’ (if you’ll excuse the jargon). Despite a determined effort to leave as much ‘baggage’ as possible behind at home, it would keep intruding. And even when I managed to shove it out of the way, the seeming need to cram time as full as possible – to ‘perform’, however subsconsciously would creep back in. For example, even when simply praying through of a passage of scripture – the temptation to start analysing it, to chop, dice and dissect and summarise complete with bullet points was impossible to resist. Makes you wonder where I get it from – she says cynically.
Alongside this ‘Martha’ mode of being. (I never thought ever thought to hear myself described as a Martha!) ran my usual miserable old git – grumbling over the whole razmattaz that is Christmas nowdays. Again – don’t we all! But it’s then all too easy to let the miseries take over and blind you to the little ‘gems’ that are to be found in amongst the fuss and kerfuffle. I may not go for the full on Christmas commercial countdown myself – but I’m getting to realise that on another level I do tend to go in for the ‘chasing after the gifts, not the giver’ bit. Especially in terms of demanding of God that he give me an exact run down of what’s in store for me; what direction I should take. In a handy little leaflet, please – complete with bulleted points all beginning with the same letter! This from a Miffy who considers herself to be a quite, contemplative type,Myers-Briggs introverted intuitve. Scarey really. It also prompts thoughtful consideration of the church culture that prompts it. Note the ‘passing the buck’ here!
Anyway, we’ll pause now in order to spare those of a sensitive disposition. Ms Miffy is stirring,and there’s washing to be done. And the ironing won’t do itself, grumble, grumble….