Saturday, 27 July 2019


The heat this week- extreme by Yorkshire standards; it is 44 C according to the thermometer on the cabin in the back garden- has reminded me of my year in the States, to which I set off fifty years ago this last week. I noted in the diary I kept that on one memorable day soon after I arrived in one of the leafier suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, that the temperature rose to 108F, a degree or two warmer than it is here today.
By contrast, in the winter it fell one day, if we count the wind-chill factor in as well, to minus 59F. I remember that day well; I had walked the mile into the town, and ran back as fast as I could, or I was sure my ears would drop off.
Mostly of course, it was less extreme, and mostly pleasant, although the humidity was hard to cope with in the summer. Three showers a day failed to keep me from being dripping wet, in spite of the air-con. I prefer a more equable climate. But wonder if the heat this week is a sign of things to come in this age of climate change.

There is a middle way in the faith too. Some have despised it, most notably the writer of the Revelation, berating one of the seven churches of the Roman province of Asia (in western Turkey) to which he was writing, for its being 'neither hot nor cold'. Well, I hope to be sincere and firm in my faith- I am reluctant to use that overworked word 'passionate'- but not lukewarm. Judicious, wise, seeing what good I can in all, drawing strength from many sides. I hope Jesus would approve. And maybe it's needed, a via media,a middle way, in today's world where polarity seems to be flavour of the month. 'The common good'; there they are, those words I keep uttering, in prayers and sermons. They demand a middle way.

Saturday, 20 July 2019


The 'Rambling Rector' rose which climbs along the north fence in the back garden is now over, and with it the lovely musky perfume which drifted across to the house, or which one caught when walking beside it.
A new fragrance has replaced it; the lavender, under the south fence is now a magnet to the bees and butterflies, and in the clammy afternoon heat its fragrance beats out into the rest of the garden. I hope it lasts for a good few weeks; there is nothing in the garden at present which will carry on the work of perfuming us, giving us such pleasure. The honeysuckle has been a disappointment- attacked by aphids, it has not been the glory this summer both of flowers and perfume, which I had hoped for.
As is to make up for that disappointment, a friend arrived this morning with a bunch of sweet peas, and their delicate aroma can be caught in the dining room; lovely! 

St. Paul's epistles ask us to be a fragrance for God. Striking image! Something that causes people to smile, to pause, to savour the present moment, to give thanks. Someone that causes God to smile, to be thankful we are as we are.In St. Paul's world, full of earthy smells and the Great Unwashed, a pleasing aroma would be something to be truly thankful for......

Well, the message is- we give off an odour, and I'm not necessarily talking B.O.! What is mine- something to make others smile, or something which causes folk to wrinkle up their noses? And what's yours?

Saturday, 13 July 2019

the post-prandial nap

For as long as I can remember- at least since 'O' level days- I have had a nap over lunchtime. Mostly after lunch, but if I'm struggling with that delicious drowsiness which tells me I need a sleep, sometimes just before lunch. If it fails to be part of the daily routine, Mary tells me that my normally equable and sweet-tempered self becomes bear-with-sore-head-like.

Twenty minutes is all I need to recharge, but sometimes of late it drifts into an hour, and if so, I find it difficult to wake up, and all afternoon I feel as though I would benefit from sleeping another several hours. Shocking, isn't it, in a grown man?

I'm reminded of the verses in the Old Testament about God not sleeping. Constantly watchful. whose attention doesn't drift off. At the great contest on Mount Carmel between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, Elijah taunts these prophets, when their God does not answer their prayers to send fire down on the sacrifice they have made to him, that perhaps Baal is sleeping? Or has gone on a journey?

Elijah has absolute trust in the God who is ever wakeful and watchful, who does not need to recharge his batteries, who is not dopey at any time, is always alert to what is going on. At the same time, this same God recognises our need for rest and sleep- again, the Old Testament tells us 'He giveth his beloved sleep'.

'Someone to watch over me'- the old standard song, has it about right. I can rest in peace while God, ever alert, keeps watch.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Busy busy

Whoops! Twelve hours late in posting a blog! It's an indication that life has been too busy this last week.
If only life had a steady rhythm to it, where the days and weeks all has an equal weight of work and leisure.......instead, it all seems to be taken at a pace. Maybe there is an antidote, but I haven't yet found it. It's a delicate balance between wants and needs, the urgent and the satisfying, the must-do and the leisure options; things for self, things we do as a couple, things for church.

Somehow when I look at Our Lord, things never seem to be hurried. Maybe pressured, as in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his betrayal, but not hurried. A little searching for the secret of unhurriedness wouldn't go amiss....

Maybe it's about being appropriately resourced as well ,for all the different roles and demands. You'd think that two years into retirement, with a lifetime of sorting stuff, juggling priorities, I would have learned something. I wish.

As a youngster, keen in the faith, I admired for that sentiment of burning out for God. An incandescent flame. Not now; I'm in it for the long haul. In the words of Paul, I'm keeping on keeping on. Whatever the hurry.