Friday, 31 October 2014

Just-go-to-church - a tentative movement

We get a look at Country Living magazine when we visit my beautiful mama, because she has a subscription to it. The Christmas copy always feels delectably festive, so we fork out from the housekeeping to buy our own copy. It’s out now, this last week of October – ‘a little bit previous’, as they say in Yorkshire.

So in between things, over a cup of tea this afternoon, I took a look at it. The Christmas issue always includes a feature on the seasonal celebrations at a country parish church; this year it’s St Beuno’s on Exmoor, apparently the smallest church in England. It is a Saxon church named after a 7th century saint – so, a link with England in the very-far-from-Dark Ages. And the article says: ‘Why it was built in this remote location is a mystery – perhaps to hide from Exmoor’s weather or heathen marauders, but also to serve the spiritual needs of the forest workers who supplied Porlock’s shipyards with timber.’

Well, now.

When I was a child at school the teachers observed a strict classroom policy of ‘no shouting out’. If the teacher asked a question – or if the student had a question – the de rigueur procedure was to raise your hand and wait for the teacher to respond. If the teacher had put the class a question, many students might have a hand raised, in which case the teacher would choose. Or pick on those who had not raised a hand, ignoring all those who had.

Any class of children included a handful, usually boys, desperately eager to be chosen to answer a question. Their raised hands were held as high aloft as the child could strain, jabbing the air with fingers outstretched, as the child in tones of agony uttered a (muted) cry of ‘Sir! Sir! Sir!’ or ‘Miss! Miss! Miss!’ (depending on the gender of the teacher, obviously).

The Hermiones of the educational world.

Mostly, regardless of the question, I have no answers. In my mind questions proliferate and answers are few. To almost any enquiry my mind formulates the response, ‘Well . . . it depends what you mean . . .’

But, now, this business of St Beuno’s church. Why could it possibly have been built, in that remote place?

And for once I've got my hand up: 'Sir! Sir! Sir!'

Could it be that everywhere was remote in England in the Dark Ages, Exmoor no more than anywhere else? Could it be that Saxon settlements were less durable than, say, Roman towns with their villas and aqueducts, and left less trace when long-ago communities had ceased to be? Could it be that – hard to imagine, I know – the holy men who built it were seeking a measure of separation from human society, drawing apart to pray and wait upon God? ‘Abide ye here with the ass; the lad and I will go yonder.’

And for what purpose might that church have been built? Ooh, let me think . . . As a shelter from the weather . . . mmm . . . No.  To hide from the benighted heathen? Er . . .  probably not. The men who built that church would have been missionaries, not hiding from the heathen. They weren’t shy. They weren’t timid. They weren’t scared. They were men of faith and conviction, the old Celtic saints. Hiding? A thousand times no.

Oh. So, to serve the spiritual needs of persons from Porlock, then? Up to a point, maybe.

Or perhaps St Beuno's was not conceived to be all about human society and community activity.

You know why I think they built that church? Oh, go on – you do. Yes. Call me old-fashioned, call me unimaginative, but I think they built St Beuno's for the worship of God.

Now, here’s the thing. I’m wondering if the time could conceivably be ripe for what one might call a just-go-to-church movement.

Maybe not. Maybe it’s just me. 

I do want to go to church – but only to worship God. Then I want to go home.

I don’t mind making friends, in a quiet way. I’m not a total misanthropist. And I don’t mind other people being community-minded. If folk like their churches buzzing with friendliness and social events, well, that’s good isn’t it? I applaud it and admire it – but I don’t want to go there.

I was reading the Country Living article and thinking it looked nice at St Beuno’s until I read the dread words (this was Colin the vicar), ‘I do like to get others involved.’ My italics, not Colin’s.

Oooh, stop it Colin!

What my heart longs for is a little church in a field, the inside simple and plain. Quiet worship, peaceful and traditional.  Just an hour long. A thoughtful homily. Prayers for the worldwide human community and the peace of the earth, for the suffering and the dying, the bereaved. Prayers of thanksgiving for God’s loving-kindness, for the wonder and the beauty of being here. The peace passed without chatter or excitement. Our communion made. Quiet greetings and smiles exchanged. And then go home. No questions. No 'involvement'. No Sunday School, no events. Just people and God.

Okay, I apologise. It really is just me, isn’t it? My just-go-to-church movement will be a minority of one.

Saturday, 25 October 2014


My granddaughter and a string of other persons.

Arresting resemblance.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Health post - sugar and the endocrine system etc. Minor interest

Most profoundly am I grateful for the work of Charlotte Gerson, Robert Lustig, Eric Berg and Gerald Green. Working with their insights has brought me to one lightbulb moment after another.

A real turnaround for me came in connecting up diet, weight and the endocrine system.

I had started to get desperate about weight gain. Like so many other people I’d go on a slimming diet, lose weight – but put it all back on and then some. It got harder and harder to lose, and my weight was gradually increasing. I didn’t feel like dancing, exercising, or even getting out of bed. Everything felt so tiring, the company of other people absolutely drained me; I was chronically exhausted. I'd felt well in the spring when I followed Charlotte Gerson's system, and the weight started to come off then, too. But I found it too difficult to keep up properly. And social eating is based on sugar, wheat and dairy (in England anyway); gradually I gave up, and started to feel ill again, and the weight started to creep back - clothes feeling tight.

So I went back and re-visited Robert Lustig’s video about sugar and his new one extending that work. I took in what Eric Berg had to say about body types (adrenal type, me). I read Gerald Green’s book that explained about candida creeping through the gut wall and messing up your blood.

And I concluded ~ no, I really, really do have to permanently give up sugar. So I did. No sugar, no wheat, no dairy, no yeast. Only exception there – I still have a little milk in tea when I’m a guest in someone else’s home. And, as before, I’ve seen my health transformed. I still drink some home-made juice every morning, following Charlotte Gerson’s advice that juice made from organic fruit and vegetables is good for you. I take the pulp from it and mix it in with my oatmeal while it’s cooking, so I don’t lose the fibre. And I still, regularly, do the Gerson coffee enemas to detox my liver – and they are better than anti-depressants by a million miles for re-establishing peace and equilibrium. I know it’s embarrassing to mention enemas on the internet, but really they revolutionise mood: toxins and depression are bosom buddies. I eat fish and I eat meat that's been compassionately farmed and raised on proper pasture (not just rye grass), or wild. In principle I could eat eggs but I find them a bit yucky.

The main thing is, I feel so, so well. This evening it occurred to me, that this is the origin of the word ‘wealth’. It’s nothing to do with money. Being ‘well’ comes from the same place as being ‘whole’. ‘Weal’ is the old word for it – like in the King James Bible, ‘I create weal and I create woe’ says the Lord in the book of Isaiah. So ‘weal’ is the condition of wellbeing; therefore ‘wellbeing’ is what ‘wealth’ really means. Money doesn’t come into it.  
I wouldn’t care how much I weighed if I feel this well. But. The other thing is, now that I’ve understood the role of the adrenal glands and thryoid et al in my weight gain, I get it – how the sugar fits in. And with the sugar knocked out, the surplus weight has just rolled painlessly away. No slimming diet, no hunger. The wheat, I stopped because it bloats me and gives me feelings of anxiety and dread. The dairy, I stopped because it clags up my tonsils and fogs my brain and stops me singing because it fills me up with mucus. The yeast, I stopped in case I had too much yeast in my gut. And I feel well, well well! Dancing again, Singing again. Zipping about again. Enjoying people’s company again. All the soft tissue pain and unshakeable despair just gone.

This time last year                            and now

In case you, too are chronically tired and just dragging through life barely able to put one foot in front of the other, I thought I’d let you know, so you could sniff along the info trails and see what you think.

Monday, 20 October 2014


I have been thinking a bit about what I can contribute to the lives of my grandchildren. So far, I am not a very useful grandmother. I find children very alarming – they are so uninhibited and concentrated. And by heck, do they move fast! Wild. I am more the sitting still and thinking type.

But it came to me as I considered it, that I might have hold of the wrong end of the stick in my ideas of what being a grandparent should be. Born to a pragmatic mother who in turn descended from a whole dynasty of hard-headed Yorkshire pragmatists, I am accustomed to defining life in terms of output, result and usefulness. Work. By which standards I am a perennial disappointment in any sphere. Wandering off has been my primary skill. Bewilderment is my habitual state.

Maybe, though, there is another route through this thing (life). Perhaps what I could offer, and what indeed might be of most value to my grandchildren and their parents, is simply to delight in them. To be on their side. Unconditional positive regard. Unconditional love.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Health post about lymphatic drainage. Minor interest.

Gee, here’s weird. Okay, I’m sleeping on the floor with a big double duvet folded in two – on half and under half. If I have a self-inflating 7.5cm camping mat underneath (so not mega-padding), when I get up in the morning I have double bags of fluid under both eyes and a kind of dewlap that I thought was fat on the front of my throat. And some fluid retention to my ankles and abdomen.

If I take the camping mat away and have nothing but plain floor under the single-thickness duvet, in the morning I have no fluid retention to ankles and abdomen, nor on my throat (so it must have been fluid not fat – I guess the sinuses drain via there) and under my eyes is just wrinkly.

Floor sleeping affects lymphatic drainage that much! Who would have thought it?