Monthly Archives: June 2011

Morning Earworms

Walking Miffdog just now, it struck me that we’re both singing from the same hymnsheet.

The Ship has a great thread on ‘earworms’ at the moment. My latest is Beethoven’s Creation’s Hymn, ‘To God eternal the heavens utter glory,’ which the choir I sing in used in concert last Saturday. (Umpteen versions to listen to on Youtube; can’t get links to work on here this morning). Sadly, Mr M does not appreciate either my tuneful whistling or the dog’s meliflous tenor barking first thing in the morning. Come to think of it, I don’t exactly fancy our resident Pavarotti warming up either, but that’s beside the point.

So, out to the park we go. If you’re a dog owner, especially owner of a scent hound, you’ll know that walking them is a sloooooooooowwwwwwww process indeed. It’s not unlike being with a toddler. You (or rather the dog) stop to sniff every lamppost, investigate every piece of shrubbery, explore unknown and (to you) unsniffable pongs. Though my sense of smell seems to be particularly acute just now; I love strolling along taking in the scent of flowering shrubs and blossom. I just operates at a higher level than Miffdog; his view of creation is definitely more earthy, basic, and nearer to the ground. (Besides which, if I walked round the neighbourhood with nose to the ground and bottom up in the air, I might just end up being arrested!).

Still, anyoldhow, here we are: him where he is, and Yours Truly where she is, humming away in happy harmony; Creation’s Hymn. I love it.

Post pilgrimage ponderings

Spent almost the entire day outside with the paintbrushes, having a race to see who would win, myself or the gathering clouds. The last week has been more rain than sunny intervals. Most frustrating – my creativity is being stifled! (The urge to dash out and paint every wooden surface in sight seems to be yet another by-product of our recent wanderings. Other pilgrims have world-shaking mystical experiences; Yours Truly develops a yen to decorate the trellis (and those plants that had the temerity to be growing in the way of my paintbrush) in buttermilk and sage. Very restful. Very tasteful. Very satisfying. I’ve an inkling of what The Almighty must have felt surveying his/her handiwork. “And God saw that it was good.” And before I get a stream of comments accusing me of being a) a megalomaniac or b) worse, no, I do nottake the creation accounts in Genesis literally. Even if my over-fertile imagination does love the picture of the spirit hoovering over the deep.

Fooling about

The Church Times back page interview today was with Third Order Franciscan tertiary Paul Alexander. I’ve given it a mention over on my Greenpatches blog. He talks about the imperative to hold onto the Franciscan characteristics of joy, foolishness and daring in the midst of a growing and changing order. Interesting. I’ve been around TSSF for nearly five years now, and, still sometimes find it difficult to pin down that elusive Franciscan something or other. Say Benedictine? Yup, I’ve got it. Dominican? I can catch a glimpse. Franciscan? Hmmm. Although I’ll admit that at its best, the Order does have its fair share of subversive personalities, (aka awkward so and sos). Subversive in a restrained, Anglican manner, of course!

Self included. Yes, I have my moments, my ‘Barbara Woodehouse blowing up horses’ noses moments). Like last night’s church prayer group, where the passage chosen for Lectio was the one from Numbers 11 describing God’s provision of quails to feed the starving Israelites in the desert. “Listen for the word that is spoken to you.” Have you read that passage? Yes, really? Go on, have a peep. And then tell me you’d be able to keep your head when all about you seem oblivious to the phrase that was sending me into waves of silent hysteria: No one gathered less than ten homers. Thank the Lord that we hadn’t chosen Ignatian imaginative contemplation that night! (And I keep saying I have no pictorial imagination!).

To restore the tone of the proceedings, mercifully there was another phrase that stuck out for me – so I managed to sort myself out by the end of the session. Well, it was a challenging passage. The spirit blows where it will etc. Only in my case, it seems to do it by way of my funnybone. I must be a bona fide Franciscan after all.

Whan thatte Aprille (redux)

Iona Abbey at night

Long time no blog. I’m using our recent pilgrimaging and peregrinations as an excuse; a fairly feeble one now, considering we’ve been home for nearly three weeks. No Olde Englysshe this time round, either. To wax Chaucerian about over a month’s wanderings and accompanying hundreds of photos is beyond me. Suffice it to say that mid-April the beloved and I hopped on a train to Durham, from whence we set out to walk great chunks of Hadrian’s Wall path, the Southern Upland and West Highland, and more besides; ending up at Oban after about a 200 miles hike. Well, a little judicious train and taxi linking took place,though only when strictly necessary!

The view in the photo will be familiar to many of you, I guess. After a few days resting on Mull, we wound up the trip by staying at Iona Abbey for a week. This was an experience in itself – worthy of an entire blog; something which many have done before me, and far better than I ever could either, so again, I’ll spare you. Well, maybe just a teensiest peek into one of the more ‘memorable’ (on several counts!) part of the trip.

Still, this was our Big Trip, which we’d planned and dreamed about for nearly three years. During those three years we wondered if we were mad, if we’d bitten off more than we could chew, if we were fit enough to manage it, (those health scares a while back, happily false alarms, gave me an extra impetus to tackle the challenge – “Times winged chariot” and all that), even if we could both cope with being in each others’ company 24 hours a day for the best part of a month . After which, to be thrown into a group of total strangers and expected to build community – not easy for two introverts. It’s given me a good deal to reflect upon regarding how I interact with others, and relate to the groups and communities I’m part of back home, not all of it comfortable, but neither did I expect it to be.

So, am I changed? Who knows? I’ve certainly come back with a strange liking for bracing winds, sleeting rain, and and odd urge to muse about reflections on dead sheep. Don’t worry – there is a perfectly simple explanation!

Am I glad I went? Yes! Challenges notwithstanding. Seriously, it’s one of those experiences, the other one being our years spent living abroad, where the tangibility of any personal change isn’t always obvious at the time, but which becomes more evident in the months and years after the event. Whatever comes from our journeying, I’m so proud we managed it.