I have started this blog again and again!
Each time I have deleted it because I was dissatisfied with it.
Who knows how long it will this time remain?
We are still in January, so not too late for New Year resolutions.
I will post my thoughts here through 2009 - and maybe keep them, or maybe start over, in 2010.
Today I have been thinking about frailty, of various kinds. In my fifties now, I am startled to feel stiffer, slower, more achey than I thought I would. Used to people laughingly saying that '70 is the new 40', I expected to feel younger for longer than I do.
Last night I didn't sleep so well - which is normal now, but I don't get accustomed to it.
So today I felt a little slow and tired.
It's a beautiful day: austerely cold - frost tight on the grass late into the morning, the wood of the shrubs sere and withdrawn, with that grey look of resignation; winter, the time of waiting.
I love the summer - the warmth and the light; the languid summer days that linger beyond dusk - when you can leave the window open wide every night, and the trees stretch a canopy of shadow over the parched grass.
Most years I have found it hard to live through January, February and March - starving for the light: but last autumn I took myself in hand and resolved upon a new approach. I decided to see the winter as a Quaker woman, dressed in grey, with a white cap and kerchief, sitting quietly in the silence of Meeting, as the clear high light of winter comes shafting through the uncurtained window into the spare simplicity of the meeting house. I thought if I imagined winter like that, I could find my way to its beauty: and this has worked for me.
I also like the winter scenes in this, my favourite film. There are good clips from it on YouTube too, like this one. This film has a wonderful effect on me. It slows me down - kind of reconfigures the way life is installed in my soul, so that it runs at the speed intended by the Maker.
When I was training for ordination, our college principal, Martin Baddeley, used to say: 'Jesus walked; and he stopped. What is the speed of love?'
I have been thinking about other frailties too - I think this is time for a confession! Today it seemed like a really good idea for us to buy a flat-screen TV. The front room in our house downstairs is a cosy room; a study full of books, with a woodstove and Badger's desk, and a big telly. At the back of the house is a room full of light. The back wall is mainly a huge window onto the garden. That room is for people to gather and a place where we can put up air beds for guests staying over. This week we are showing a gathering of people the film 'The End Of Suburbia', about post-oil-dependency society, as part of Badger's ambition to make Aylesbury into a Transition Town. So I thought it would be a great idea if instead of lugging the massive old telly back and forth from the front room when we do something like this, we got a flat-screen telly that would be easy to carry, and then The Tall One (our lodger) could have the present big telly in his room, and the telly he has at the moment could go in the bedroom that is sometimes let to a second lodger, sometimes a place for visitors to sleep.
I was getting well carried away with this idea when, like a weak shaft of sunlight struggling in the fog, came the remembrance that I am committed to living simply. This film we're showing is the first time we ever did anything like that - you can't buy a telly on the strength of one film! In fact, we probably shouldn't have a telly at all. Almost never have I seen on TV anything that contributed to purity of heart and greatness of soul - but I've seen a lot that dragged me deeper into the mud out of which it reached its grubby hands.
So I changed my mind. No flat-screen telly. What a relief.
A day for frailty, then - of getting older, of feeling a bit rough, of faltering purpose. And I am writing a book just now about people making the momentous transition from independent living to residential care home accommodation; which concentrates the mind on sober thoughts, some of the scarier moments life has to offer.
But also a day for remembering who I am; for gratitude - because in the simplicity I have chosen and worked to create, being slow, being tired is a possibility; it is allowed. Accepting is a part of the rhythm of things, and I thank God for a life and a schedule spacious enough to permit this. Sometimes I notice it is a discipline - solitude, quietness, frugality, littleness; these are not always the easy choice - but mostly I see it for what it is; the greatest blessing. I thank God for the chance to live under the wing of His peace.