To those who helped get me here: Thank you.
To those who helped get me here: Thank you.
Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways,
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
says the Lord, nor are my ways your ways.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose.
Two years ago, my spiritual director said to me: ‘You are in Ascensiontide, and Pentecost remains hidden: ‘stay here in the city until you have been clothed with the power from on high.’ (Lk 24)
It has been a long, and often times beautiful Ascensiontide. I will go to the Cathedral this Thursday to remember and give thanks. And then, by the grace of God, it will be Pentecost at last.
The past few months have been wonderfully, bizarrely busy. The thing about a year off is that everyone else says ‘aha. she is free!’. So, since Easter, I have have been constantly, intensely catching up with friends and travelling.
It began with the swings-and-play-parks tour of Durham. An old univeristy friend came to visit with her nearly two-year old, and we spent the week getting cold, getting wet, taking naps, and evaluating where we could find the best, the very best, place to play. (Chester-le-Street, as it happens. Thank you Mumsnet.) I even persuaded my sceptic little house-guest to try Boston Brown Bread and Baked Beans alonside her hot-dog. Success.
Next, another visitor from Scotland. Simpler this time (no nappies), and blessed with better weather. We did the usual sorts of things: walked by the river, visited the otters, enjoyed the sudden (brief) burst of Spring.
Then, it was time to welcome an old school friend whom I hadn’t seen since I was 16. The next time I hear someone say that facebook isn’t about real friendship I will offer this: without facebook, this friend and I may never have spoken again. Instead we have chatted and laughed through major changes in our lives, and when the time was right, she flew from Los Angeles to Newcastle so that the conversation could go deeper. We had a fabulous (albeit chilly) few weeks, drinking tea and visiting Roman Britain.
After that, I broke the news to Molly-cat that it was now her turn to go on holiday, and off we went to the cattery. I love this cattery. The owners have a great sense of humour and send twitter-pics of the cats for our amusement and reassurance. (@RGLCH)
I flew to Newark, took the train up to Connecticut and spent a few weeks with my parents. I watched loons on the lake and swallows in the orchards. I visited old haunts and enjoyed the ice cream. I caught up with friends and met the amazingly passionate owners of Extra Virgin in Mystic, CT, who gave up the rat-race to start a business that they love, and are turning tourists into connoisseurs bite by bite.
For Assension Day, I was thankful to be at Christ Church, New Haven and delighted in the smoke. On the Sundays, there was all the joy of St Thomas’, New Haven, with its slightly chaotic but beautiful liturgy and the most creative normal-church (rather than cathedral) music I have come across in a long while.
I came home and rescued Molly from the cattery, spent the week offering her a lap and getting over a bug. I met friends in York and watched my god-son get the hang of bungee-jumping. Then another friend came down from Scotland. We walked the beach and found amazing rock-pools at Warkworth. We visited the Southern Crested Screamer, and the fluffy chicks at Washington Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and we wandered down to Whitby to share fish and chips with the gulls.
It has been a fabulous few months, which could never have happened without the gift of this year off. And now, I am looking forward to a few weeks of quiet: to read again, and to write, and to see what comes next.
The mink by the river cared not a jot for my morning pensiveness.
He looked with cold eyes, too sleekit to sense irony.
But the wagtails joined with God’s laughter
as I had to admit:
there are blessings in having the freedom
to pray without presiding
to walk by the river
to watch the dark shadow
rise and glisten in the light.