Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Wondering about Wednesday


Where does everyone go on Wednesdays?

Alice says statistically it’s a day when people feel low and depressed.  Woeful Wednesday.  Weary Wednesday.

Whatever, it’s a jolly good day for getting things done.  You want to go to the shops for groceries, see a film at the cinema, go out to a restaurant to eat – Wednesday’s your best day; because nobody else is there.  Why not?  What’s wrong with Wednesday?

My friend Tom Cullinan says you get on better in life if you want what no-one else wants.  When I was studying at York University at the age of eighteen, I quickly discovered that going to bed early and getting up early was brilliant – it was like living on campus by yourself.  Since those days I have treasured the early morning as a workplace where no-one else is.

To live frugally, effectively and peacefully: choose what’s out of fashion, go to bed at 9pm, start work at 5.30am, if you want to lunch out arrive at 11.45am, and only go into town on a Wednesday.


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365 366 Day 179 – Wednesday June 27th
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)



Smart jacket.  I think wherever I am now, ‘smart’ does not apply.  I’m not sure that in the US ‘smart’ means the same as it does in the UK – stylish, formally elegant . . . 

365 366 Day 178 – Tuesday June 26th



I was pleased with this. For ages I’d been putting off going through my needle-case and sorting out the needles that had gone a bit rusty.  I had too many anyway – they accumulate, goodness knows how!  I don’t remember buying any.  They just arrive.  I sent some off in a Freecycle craft kit, kept some, and these were the ones that needed to be moved on to the Great Needle-case in the Sky.


Monday, 25 June 2012

Now I know


All right, now I know!


For some time I have been turning over and over in my mind the kind of place I would like to live, and at last it has all fallen into place.

I should explain that this depends on my books suddenly and inexplicably becoming best-sellers and making me two million pounds minimum.

This is my plan (contingent upon that eventuality).

I intend to purchase a (very) large estate with woodlands and streams, near a main road.

As far as possible from the main road my dwelling will be constructed.  That will be a very small brick-built house, just big enough for a door with a window either side.  Inside will be a big ingle-nook fireplace, a bed built with 2 drawers underneath, a small hutch for my food and utensils, my chest of drawers and bookshelves, an armchair for guests, and my nightstand.  I will have a lean-to shed for firewood, and collect rainwater from the roof (which will be slate with a solar panel to charge my phone and computer).  I will have a standpipe for drinking water.  No gas, no mains electricity, no mains water.

Around my little house I will have a walled garden with a henhouse big enough for three hens free to roam in the walled garden, an orchard of trees, meadow flowers and lots and lots of herbs.  I will grow wild roses and honeysuckle against the wall.

A mile or so away on my estate will be the cottages of my workmen.  They will be my ostler/farrier, my game-keeper, my wheelwright, my gardener, my woodsman, my farmer, my general handyman and my shop manager.

There will be no public roads running through my estate, which will include woodland and open meadows for my goats and cows.

On the border between one of the meadows and woods will be Hebe’s cob house that she built for herself, with a green (living) roof, and a well. 

Everyone else in my family will live nearby too, in dwellings of their choice – but NO CARS are allowed on my estate.  Anyone with a car will have to live on the border near the main road, and park their car in the car-park, bordered with stout wooden bollards, near the main entrance.  The Badger will have a large grand house with its own sweeping driveway onto the road, with plenty of garaging for his cars – a classic car, a Toyota Prius, a very fast sports car and anything else he fancies.  He will have his own garden with the kind of weird trees he likes – tall thin conifers, eucalyptus etc – and a simply enormous fishpond.  He can have his own cook and butler and housekeeper.  I will pay their wages for him.

Needless to say, Alice and Hebe will have a range of studios for their work, and a special stoneyard with all the right equipment.  And there will be a playpark with swings and a slide, a climbing frame, a roundabout, a paddling pool and a small boating lake for the Wretched Wretch’s special pleasure.

At the estate entrance will be situated a general grocery store selling organic, ethically sourced, earth-friendly, socially just, minimally packaged, healthy, traditionally made products sourced from small independent family businesses within a 250 mile radius of the estate.  All my shopping will come from there, and this is how I will get it: –

On my estate, as well as a large market garden and a small farm for hay, grain, sheep, cows and goats, will be a large pasture with big shady trees and a field shelter for my Percheron horse and companion donkey.  The horse will be helpful for hauling firewood and also for pulling my personal transport, a simple cart/trap with bench seats, big enough to seat six to eight people.

A couple of times a week, the horseman will get it ready and come by my house to collect me to go to the shop at the estate entrance for my groceries.  The estate will be traversed by a winding road that goes all over it, past the farm and all the fields and the market garden, past the homes of my family members.  Because it winds back and forth all round the estate, the road will be about six miles long, and it will take about an hour and a half for me to ride along it in my horse-drawn cart all the way from my house at one end to the shop at the other end, once you count in all the stops at the houses where the people inside will be dashing about getting a basket ready to drive to the shop.

And so I will live out my days in happiness and peace, writing wonderful novels, with no street lights at night only the stars.  I will have long skirts with large pockets, and a big shady straw hat, and large floppy jumpers I make from the yarn  have spun from the fleece of my sheep.


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365 366 Day 177 – Monday June 25th


A really excellent camping toilet of the bucket variety.  Useful and practical.
I preferred something that would tuck away, and also I didn’t really like the shade of grey, and I am not a big fan of plastic.
So my own system now looks like this – with feline approval!






Thursday, 21 June 2012

Film


Yesterday we watched one of our favourite movies: The Scarlet Pimpernel.  If you aren't familiar with it, YouTube has it (it's the 1982 film) Fab. 

"Sink me!!"

:0)

Something said by Sir Percy Blakeney caught my attention:
"If we are to succeed we must persist with our anonymity."

How right he was.  The power of the hidden life should never be underestimated.

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365 366 Day 173 – Thursday June 21st



 This cool bag for transporting frozen goods home from the supermarket would be a most useful possession were it not for two things: 1) We mostly do our shopping bit by bit on foot and take a shoulder bag to carry it home. This is more for car shopping.  2) On the occasions when we do car shopping we always forget to take the cool bag.
Thus we accepted that the reality is, this was surplus to requirements.

365 366 Day 172 – Wednesday June 20th



This looks like an unexceptional thing to part with, but a lot of my clutter was, and still is, composed of items like this.  This is a copy of the preaching Plan of the Hastings Bexhill & Rye Methodist Circuit, dating back a few years.  Its calendar is out of date, but I kept it as a useful directory of various Methodist preachers and ministers, lest the need arose to contact them.  Though it’s a joy to keep in touch with Methodist friends from time to time, I no longer have a need to contact any of the preachers by phone these days, so I recognised that keeping this document was better categorised as hoarding not practicality.  Even so, casting it out felt like scattering beloved ashes onto the water of the Ganges.  But that’s how it is: life flows on.


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Walking through the valley


We chose carefully when we moved to our present home.  Hastings (where we live – well, we live in St Leonards but it’s all part of Hastings) is right on the coast, and like most places by the sea it’s very hilly.  Much of the town was built in Victorian times so many of the houses date to just over a hundred years ago.  Almost any view of the streets of Hastings includes terraces of tall thin red brick Victorian houses clinging perilously to the steep hillsides.  Some of them are so tall and thin that basically you’re buying a staircase with alcoves off.

I’m not sure if US friends are familiar with terraced houses – I think it’s a UK term. It means where all the houses are joined together in a string attached to each other rather than standing separately.  I’ll show you some photos of our town one day.  But you can see the kind of hillside terraced housing I mean just by looking out of our Alice’s bedroom window.



There are terraced houses right opposite us too, but the crucial difference is that our road is flat.  Here are the three terraced homes immediately opposite our house.



There are hardly any flat roads in Hastings.  Mostly you have to walk up a hill either going out or coming home.  There’s a level walk from our house to the shops and the bus stop, and my how grateful we are for that when we have heavy bags of groceries to carry home!  Also our house is built on (almost) level ground here at the top of the hill rising up from the sea.  This means that although ours is a tall Victorian villa, any time we have to have regular work done on the roof – like clearing the gutters – we’re in with a chance that a ladder will suffice.  Many of the Hastings houses need a scaffold up to do any work on the roof – and that comes at £500 a pop.  That’s $785!!

So that’s one of the special things about our house – level ground. 

The second special thing is that the little network of roads where we live doesn’t go anywhere – it’s not on the way to somewhere else.  So though we have plenty of cars belonging to the people who live here, there’s no through traffic.  What a blessing!

The most special thing of all about our house is that we are one of the lucky families whose homes back onto the park.  Alexandra Park is a beautiful green space running through Hastings and St Leonards.  Because this is a seaside town, it’s built around rivers running down to the sea.  That made some of the land hard to build on, so they made it into a park instead, God bless them.

And every day when Hebe walks along to the stone masonry to work on the headstones, her way runs through the park.  It’s also the way to the baker’s and one of the Co-op stores where we like to shop for groceries.

We go down the steps and down the hill towards the river valley at the centre of the park.



It’s a favourite place for dog-walkers.  Can you see the little Jack Russell who came scudding across just as I took the photo?



The Victorians built ponds to dam some of the water – beautiful open spaces where the seagulls gather.  Can you just see the carp in the water?



Look closer.



So we walk on past the pond and then up the other side of the valley, by this patch of grass starred with daisies at the foot of the tree.



Then up past our favourite tree, a gnarled old chestnut.



The path rises steeply after that.  Hebe says on days when it feels like hard going it's easier if you take your shoes off and walk up the hill in bare feet.



Off to the left runs a little badger trail.



On the way home, the path looks even prettier as it winds back down towards the pond.


As we walked along to buy a loaf of bread today, Alice said the path we go reminds her of Tolkein’s poems/songs about roads.

It also reminds me of this poem by G.K.Chesterton.

And of the song There’ll Always Be An England, that starts:

There'll always be an England, 
While there's a country lane, 
Wherever there's a cottage small 
Beside a field of grain.

Home again, time to have a bath and put my feet up for a while :0)




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365 366 Day 171 – Tuesday June 19th



A pretty sarong given me some years ago by a friend.   It has variously served as a scarf, a headcovering, a tablecloth, an altar cloth and a curtain.  Finally it went to be part of a textile craft kit I made to give away on Freecycle.

365 366 Day 170 – Monday June 18th



 A picture I made of a wonderful quotation from Thich Nhat Hanh and the beautiful cover of a journal Hebe gave me.  I kept this a long while as a reminder that though it is true that “Here we have no abiding city”, nonetheless it is also true that “the Kingdom of God is within you” – we are always at home even as we journey on.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Quiet Way, the Open Road


The things people say sometimes linger in my mind so that I go on thinking about them for ages and ages. 

During the week I visited with a friend who lives just nearby a church where they still have the Book of Common Prayer (1662) as their worship book.   I love the old prayer book, the wisdom and humanity of Thomas Cranmer & co, and really appreciate the opportunities as they come to join in the forms of worship that recall days now for the most part vanished.  Of course in a traditional church like that, women priests aren’t part of the agenda.  They do have a lady deacon though and, as they’re in an interregnum just now, she was the officiant for Evensong, which I went to with my friend after we had a cup of tea together in her home.

And while we were drinking our tea, my friend (musing on the present state of this particular church) touched upon the limitation to women’s ministry there, not complaining but with a tinge of sadness and frustration.  As she talked about it, she spoke of the attitude of the lady deacon, who had said to her: “I know my place”. 

And those are the words that have lingered on in my mind: “I know my place.”

This morning (Sunday) I went to the 8am Mass at our church – which is Church of England but the Catholic end of things.  As I sat quietly in my seat before worship opened, being aware of the early sunshine flooding onto us through the coloured glass of the east window, and the carved wood of the new statue of Our Lady, and the pale stone of the pillars, and the rich cloth of the altar, our priest in his vestments and his lady curate in hers sitting in their stalls waiting for the clock to ring the hour, I turned those words over in my mind, “I know my place.”

I thought about our lady curate, now a deacon and in formation for priesthood.  She has chosen her place and knows it.

I thought of Amish women, under the authority of their husbands, living within the wisdom of the Ordnung in a world of segregated tasks.  They know their place.

I thought of the prioress of the Carmelite sisters with whom we will stay when we go to take the stained glass panel next month.  Her vocation seems to me very secure, and with humility she accepts the ministry of the priest who comes into the community to celebrate the mass for them.  She has no wish to usurp his authority, and embraces with reverence the hierarchy and dogma of the Catholic church.  She knows her place.

My mind looks beyond to Thich Nhat Hanh, revered leader of his community at Plum Village, books on the Buddhist way and practice streaming from his pen, advising with humour, wisdom, gentleness and experience how to conduct oneself according to the Noble Eightfold Path, the Five Precepts, the Triple Refuge and all the rest of it.  He knows his place.

I look back to yesterday lunchtime when the Badger and I ate with dear friends who spoke of the reservations their eldest son feels about the faith journey they have made, away from their conservative Evangelical roots to a more inclusive style of church, prompted significantly by the need to find a faith community that could offer a welcome to their youngest son, who is gay.  But their eldest stands firm on the ground of the traditions in which he was brought up.  He knows his place.

And as I turned these things over in my mind I realised, I do not know my place.  I’m not at all sure I actually have one; only a journey.  The impermanence of everything is very apparent to me.  I do not share the view that this earth is all illusion, but I see that in the eternal scale of things it is fragile and transient.

I attach no value (personally) to priesthood or monastic vows or Amish community – I mean, I revere them, delight in them and love them, but they are not for me.

Catholic, Evangelical, Church of England – I can see a value in the different worship streams, and I likewise hold very precious the dharma of the Buddhist and Taoist ways.  But I do not recognise in any of them what I would call “my place”.

If I had to identify a place for myself here on earth, there are some scriptures and old hymns that speak my mind:

How dear to me is your dwelling,O Lord of hosts!
My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. 
The sparrow has found her an house
and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young;
by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God. 
Happy are they who dwell in your house!
They will always be praising you. 
Happy are the people whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on the pilgrims' way. 
Those who go through the desolate valley
will find it a place of springs,
for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.
(from Psalm 84, the Book of Common Prayer translation)
I can identify with the sparrow, the swallow, that asks to make her nest under the eaves of that great establishment of God’s Temple on earth – the church.  In it or maybe under its wing, but not of it somehow.
Then there’s the hymn (Orlando Gibbons wrote the beautiful melody to which it’s set) that Henry Baker translated from an unknown source for Hymns Ancient & Modern in 1861:
Jesu, grant me this, I pray,
Ever in Thy heart to stay;
Let me evermore abide
Hidden in Thy wounded side.


If the evil one prepare,
Or the world, a tempting snare,
I am safe when I abide
In Thy heart and wounded side.


If the flesh, more dangerous still,
Tempt my soul to deeds of ill,
Naught I fear when I abide
In Thy heart and wounded side.


Death will come one day to me;
Jesu, cast me not from Thee:
Dying let me still abide
In Thy heart and wounded side.

“In Thy heart and wounded side” – that feels like something I could embrace as a permanent choice, somewhere of which I could say “I know my place”.

And this hymn, by J. Conder, that also found its way into Hymns Ancient and Modern, from the Congregational Hymnbook:
Bread of heaven on Thee we feed,
For Thou art our food indeed;
Ever may our souls be fed
With this true and living Bread,
Day by day with strength supplied,
Through the life of Christ who died.


Vine of heaven, Thy love supplies
This blest cup of sacrifice;
'Tis Thy wounds our healing give;
To Thy cross we look and live:
Thou our life! O let us be
Rooted, grafted, built on Thee.

“Thou our life! O let us be rooted, grafted, built on Thee.” Those words sometimes come into my mind as a prayer, and offer a concept of which I could indeed say “I know my place” – rooted, grafted, built on Thee.

But I can go no further than that really.  For the rest, the friend that speaks my mind is the writer to the Hebrews:
For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no abiding city, but we seek the city which is to come.  (Hebrews 13:11-14)

Another hymn comes to mind, that I knew only in childhood – we use to sing it at the primary school I attended.  They called it “The Seekers”, and it was not in a hymn book.  We copied it into our exercise books off the blackboard.
Only searching for the full text of it now do I discover it was a setting of a poem by John Masefield.  Our school followed Dyson’s substitution of “But the hope, the burning hope, and the road, the open road” and “the hidden beauty”, for Masefield’s original “But the hope of the City of God at the other end of the road” and “a hidden city”; and these words spoke to my soul.

Friends and loves we have none, nor wealth nor blessed abode,
But the hope, the burning hope, and the road, the open road. 

Not for us are content, and quiet, and peace of mind,
For we go seeking a city that we shall never find. 

There is no solace on earth for us – for such as we –
Who search for the hidden beauty that eyes may never see. 

Only the road and the dawn, the sun, the wind, and the rain,
And the watch fire under stars, and sleep, and the road again. 

We seek the City of God, and the haunt where beauty dwells,
And we find the noisy mart and the sound of burial bells. 

Never the golden city, where radiant people meet,
But the dolorous town where mourners are going about the street.

We travel the dusty road till the light of the day is dim,
And sunset shows us spires away on the world's rim. 

We travel from dawn to dusk, till the day is past and by,
Seeking the Holy City beyond the rim of the sky. 

Friends and loves we have none, nor wealth nor blest abode,
But the hope, the burning hope, and the road, the open road.

I believe that in the Buddhist way there is a concept, "Going home", which explores the phenomenon familiar to many of us that in the ideological journey we make in a lifetime, we often end up at the place we started from, yet it is not the same - not because where we started from is any different but because we ourselves have changed.

Going Home.  The hope, the burning hope, and the road, the open road.  Here we have no abiding city.  Rooted, grafted, built on Thee.  In Thy heart and wounded side. The sparrow has found her an house.  I know my place.  Or not.  Hmm. 

I'm changing
That's all it is
I'm just changing    (Sarah Joyce) 


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365 366 Day 169 – Sunday June 17th



Actually to be fair I’m not sure this should have gone in the list, because we later decided that to make our living room comfortable we do need a sofa, just not this one.  But at the time it went on its way we had no particular intention of replacing it, so I guess it can stay in.  Things come and they go here.  We just try to keep it so that they don’t accumulate.

365 366 Day 168 – Saturday June 16th



I hung onto these books longer than most.  The one at the back, Living Buddha Living Christ, is an excellent work by Thich Nhat Hanh.  It’s gone to a friend training as a Methodist Local Preacher.  God bless her studies and her ministry.  The other two I hung onto as resource books because I did so want to write a sequel to The Clear Light of Day.  I had it all planned out and started.  But insufficient people bought that novel for a sequel to be required.   I don’t personally own a bicycle.  Sending these two books on cycle maintenance on their way was all part of a larger picture of putting a tired old dream to rest.

365 366 Day 167 – Friday June 15th 



The Badger did some research on our house insurance a while back and discovered that we could drastically reduce our premium by changing our insurers, but that the new firm would require a more challenging front door lock than the straightforward one we had.  This was my key to the old lock, but there’s more to it than that.  The Badger ordered a lock and keys for all of us from the locksmith, but when the man came to fit the lock he’d forgotten about the extra keys.  Of course we could easily go to the shop and get some, but I thought why bother?  If the rest of the household is out and the door locked, I can just as easily go in at the back door.  So when I threw away (metal recycling) my old front door key, I no longer had a key to the front door at all.  I think that earned it its place here.  It’s also here as an example of clutter that accumulates, in that at the beginning of this year I had several keys (I think  still have two) that had quietly gathered in my life without my being able to remember what on earth they were supposed to open.   There is an Eternal Mystery that is essential to meaningful life and a Pointless Mystery like having a key when you’ve forgotten what it’s for.  Avoiding Pointless Mystery is a happy by-product of chucking stuff out.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Kipling


I like to set as the desktop background for my computer screen an image of whatever my mind is focussing on or thinking through at the present time. 

For a long time I had a beautiful photo of the interior of Innermost House

Sometimes I’ve had photos of Amish life (though I've think they've changed the website settings so you can't download them any more).  

Most recently I had the picture of St Joseph that I posted here yesterday.  Before that I had a lovely calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh – this one:




Today I have made an image file of a snippet of Rudyard Kipling’s poetry, and set that as my desktop background:



And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame, 
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star, 
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They are! 



It so perfectly expresses something that feels very important and basic and essential to me.


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365 366 Day 166 – Thursday June 14th 
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)



This is a photo of the gaps.  I still have this CD case, and it still is substantially full, but what I have now is what remains of a severely pruned collection.  I gave away two small cases full, and in this big one there are now many gaps, two of which you can see at the bottom right here.


365 366 Day 165 – Wednesday June 13th  


 Another spork.  I was so captivated by them when first I found them, I bought four in different colours, sure that they would be so useful for us.  How wrong can you be?

  


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

St Joseph of Nazareth



Just at the moment my mind is full of St Joseph; thoughts set in motion because Alice is in process of making a stained glass panel depicting St Joseph holding the infant Jesus, for our Carmelite sisters at Thicket Priory.

Devotion to saints is a strange, uncomfortable thing to the naturally Protestant mind.  When we come to the intercessions at church, not every Sunday but sometimes, we finish with the Hail Mary.  And my Badger never joins in, because it is anathema to his soul steeped for a lifetime in evangelical culture.

But I feel the presence of the saints, and I love the different names for the Mother of Jesus – Our Lady of the Prairie, Our Lady of the Streets, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Grace.  So beautiful.  I have a special devotion to Our Lady of the Pot Hooks, by which I mean my own personal sense of presence around the provisional, make-do, wabi-sabi mode of furnishing and keeping house that has been my habit.  When I am cobbling together a net curtain stretcher and cup hooks to hang the washing indoors, or searching around for a trifle bowl or chamber pot to make a planter for a Rather Large Fern, or upending a kneeler to double as a window box, I mutter “Our Lady of the Pot Hooks, pray for us . . .”

Since I was fifteen years old – that’s forty years  I have had a particular devotion to St Francis.  He has been my loved and revered role model this long time.  But between me and Francis there’s one bone of contention: he is too ascetic for me.  His simplicity is more than close to the edge, it hangs right off the edge.  Francis  wonderful, magnetic, enchanting, humble, beautiful Francis – he is more than a fraction unbalanced.  That would be all right if it were not for the fact that I am too.  Francis is dangerous, you know.  The cheerful, practical, loving humility of modern-day Franciscans, yes that’s fine.  But Francis himself, stumbling in pain with his bleeding hands and feet, freezing and starving, hungry and homeless, ripping off his clothes and abasing himself.  There’s something there that murmurs a warning in my soul.  Same with Mother Teresa, who left nothing for herself, nothing, lived in the exile of her self-punishing dark night for decades.  The holiness of these lives is bought at the cost of something that feels, to me, profoundly unhealthy.

And recently I have been thinking more and more about St Joseph, and what a wonderful role model he is.  St Joseph speaks to my life and condition with a strength and encouragement that astonishes me.

He is revered in the church in three primary aspects: as the husband of Mary, as the protector of Jesus, and as Joseph the Worker.

Here are some of the things St Joseph has been teaching me.

We never hear of St Joseph saying anything.  He teaches us about silence.  He shows us that silence is what nurtures the Word and allows it to mature in safety.  He leads us in a way of going on quietly with the work of our hands.

Joseph raised a family, and he took it upon himself to cherish and provide for them responsibly.  By simple, honest, home-based labour he took care of the people he loved, whom God had entrusted to his care.

Joseph worked at a trade that could be practiced without exploiting others, developing skill and creativity, designing and shaping objects of usefulness as well as beauty.

Joseph listened to God.  You know and I know that hearing and recognising the voice of God accurately relies on practice, on habit.  That God spoke to Joseph in his dreams, such that Joseph responded with obedience and conviction, first taking Mary to be his wife and then shepherding his little family away from the danger of persecution into exile in Egypt, tells me that Joseph was in the habit of listening to God.

Joseph was compassionate, and thoughtful.  When he discovered Mary to be with child, before God spoke to him in the dream, he didn’t rant and shout and expose her to public humiliation; he just made plans quietly and privately to terminate their betrothal.

And that also tells me that Joseph was a man of principle and conviction, a man to whom integrity mattered immensely.

Joseph was unselfish.  Taking Mary and Jesus into his life was a big thing to do.  They relied upon him for stability and security.  They brought with them challenge and upheaval.  He accepted that, because he loved Mary and Jesus.  He was a normal householder who, because of his love for them, accepted the consequences of having Mary and Jesus at the heart of his home and his everyday life.

Joseph was capable, calm and sensible.  He was provident, wise and kind.  

Joseph lived an ordinary life in an ordinary home, but he did it with such grace that God chose that life, that home, that man to be the cradle of redemption, the school of grace, the arms that held and cuddled the hope of the world.

Having a devotion to a saint means not making them more important than God, but gazing upon them intently and thoughtfully, allowing the wisdom they particularly teach to soak into one’s consciousness to inspire change.

The thing about the saints is that they are at one and the same time individual real human lives, archetypes, and bearers of the light of Christ.

In their simple humanity, their individuality, they speak to and encourage our hope of progressing in the Christian way.

As archetypes, they tap into / draw upon the interconnecting root system of our universal unconscious, facilitating access to a source of common human strength and wisdom.

As bearers of the Christlight, they keep us mindful of the transcendent dimension which both indwells our lives and shines as a guiding star.

Because you lived in an ordinary home like ours and know all about the struggles and challenges of family life, St Joseph pray for us.

Because we too want to be kind, mastering unselfishness and fostering the presence of Jesus in our daily lives, St Joseph pray for us.

Because it is hard to find ways in the modern world to make an honest living and still have time for our families, St Joseph pray for us.

Because you lived simply as we long to do, St Joseph pray for us.

Because we too want to work creatively and usefully, avoiding mass-production and sweatshops, choosing the craftsman’s skills and patient labour, St Joseph pray for us.

Because we too want our homes and lives to be a kind of sanctuary where the people God has entrusted to us will always feel safe and loved, St Joseph pray for us.

Because you are comfortable with silence, and know how to live with humility, patience and self-restraint, St Joseph pray for us.

Because your faith shaped your choices and decisions, because you believed in God enough to change your mind, St Joseph pray for us.

Because we too would be capable, responsible, gentle and calm, St Joseph pray for us.

In your kindness, understanding and trustworthy strength, St Joseph pray for us, that we may follow in the way you have showed us to go.

Amen.

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365 366 Day 164 – Tuesday June 12th  



Things like this just kinda waft into my life.  A dear little organza bag.  I cannot bring myself to say “Ah, sweet!” and chuck it in the bin.  That would be such a waste and irresponsible attitude to the Earth’s resources.  So object by object, thing by thing, I have to identify suitable new homes for all these disconcertingly eternal items that find their way into my home.