I like thinking, and a good place for thinking is the bath.
It has been a beautiful day, and this morning I opened the bathroom window (which is big) wide, to let in the birdsong and the sunshine and the fresh air.
I had some bubble stuff in my bath. It smelt beautiful. I spent some time there, thinking about how I use my time and what determines that.
I thought about heaven, and resurrection, reincarnation. I wondered whether it would make a difference to how a person values their time on Earth, if they thought they would come back many times; or if they thought they would never come back but would be part of the ‘new heavens and new earth’ that is written about in the book of Revelation.
And then I asked myself – suppose there is no heaven, no resurrection, no afterlife; just this? One life, one chance; this living moment or not at all. If this should turn out to be all there is – what, if anything, would I do differently?
I came to the thought that with such a philosophy, I would spend more time out of doors. I like to be close to my nest, so I would have a shepherds hut or a caravan or a small shack, near a pond and a tree, in the grass somewhere. I would sit in my doorway with a tin mug of tea, a low fire in a small firepit dug nearby: and I would look at the blue of the sky, and the way the wind blows the green grass back to silver. I would watch the small frogs clambering on the grass stems in the summer. I would sit quiet and still so the birds were not afraid, and watch them coming and going, fetching twigs to make a nest, questing for food in the morning and as the day goes down to dusk.
I would look at the rain clouds moving across the valley, and listen to the sighing of great trees bending in the breeze.
I would gaze at the purity of snow in the cold times, and let my soul arise into the amazing azure of the sky in the days of summer.
I would get up early, wrapped in my blanket, and behold the clouds still lying in the ditches as dawn, and then sunrise, brought a new day.
I would marvel at the gold and purple and vermilion of the sunset; watch the rain splashing in puddles, the air pockets under the ice when the puddles freeze, the cracks in the dried mud when there has been no rain for many days.
At night I would sleep with my window open, the quilt pulled up to my nose against the cold, so that nothing – not even a clear pane of glass – came between me and the blessing of the moon; so that if it were possible I could tie a thread to the evening star and hold the other end in my hand.
I would feel the silky dust in my fingers and look for spiders’ web sparkled with dew in the morning. I would smell the dear homely fragrance of woodsmoke and the sharp clean scent of the wild garlic.
I would listen for the last, late thrush singing from the branches of my tree, and for the call of the owl and the snuffle of the badger looking for the chocolate I left out for him.
I love this earth, this dear, beautiful earth; the only one. I am so grateful to have had the chance to fill my senses with the wildness and sweetness of what is all around.
I am so sorry that we confine brown bears in cages to tap their gall bladders for bile; that men shoot the wild creatures from trains and planes and cars and speed away laughing because they made a kill. I am so sorry for the fox-cub’s still, bedraggled corpse at the roadside; for the eyes full of hopelessness of the monkey in the vivisectionist’s laboratory: so sorry for living creatures skinned alive to get a better cut of fur. I am so sorry for what we have done to the Earth.
Whatever happens after we die, I shall never pass this way again. This day will never come back. Unique and precious, God’s gift of time and possibility: may I become simpler, freer, quieter, less complicated, until my soul and my senses open wide to beauty, to the music of creation, and the beautiful colours of the sky.