Sunday, 30 October 2016
How long is long enough, and how long is too long is a much discussed question in our church 'family'.
The sermon in question was good initially, it started off very well indeed. but as most of us regard 15 minutes as ideal, 20 minutes acceptable if it is very good. This one then went on to 25 and then to 30 minutes.
The main point had been made well (and early), it was then repeated at least three times during the following minutes, culminating in a series of meanderings off the original theme and by the time it drew to a merciful close had half the congregation dozing and the other half tapping their feet.
I am already bracing myself for the barrage of complaints, moans and groans which will inevitably (and justifiably) come my way tomorrow morning.
Since I am 'in situ' so to speak, it is assumed that I have a private line to the ears of the clergy.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Why is it that some, not all, clergy have no 'off' switch?
Posted by Ray Barnes at 2:32:00 pm
Monday, 24 October 2016
Today is an exception.
Early this morning a visitor to St. Mary's remarked that I was very lucky to work in such a wonderful old building.
This made me think for a second that it is all too easy to take for granted what a privilege it is to spend half my waking life in a Grade One listed building with many centuries of history as my daily 'wallpaper'.
Getting home to my nice warm clean house (courtesy of Sue who cleans for me once a week), and looking out of the rear window to see Nick the gardener back bent double, digging out yards of ground elder, I realised just how very fortunate I am.
Only a few months ago I was really despondent at the state of my poor neglected garden, aware that under the weeds brambles and ground-elder a lot of my treasured plants and shrubs were either already dead or dying from lack of attention and sunshine.
For some reason when densely planting my small plot I never once considered the possibility that I would one day grow too old to give it the care and hard work it would need.
Never one to cross my bridges before i come to them, it had been quite easy to put such thoughts into storage, only for them to suddenly emerge and threaten to engulf me.
Now at last there is light and air around my shrubs, bare soil where there was thick green weed cover, and best of all, space to plant replacements for some of my lost treasures.
Nick has also climbed a ladder and replaced a bulb in my security light which has been absent for about 3 months.
I truly never thought I would be so grateful to other people for restoring my surroundings to their former order and beauty.
Sometimes there are compensations for being old.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 3:32:00 pm
Monday, 17 October 2016
The photograph of a full moon on a cloudy night was taken from my bedroom window about a year ago.
Why one corner has been 'eaten' is a mystery.
When my library book fails to hold my attention and sleep is impossible I often look out at the night sky to see whether it is doing anything interesting.
Tonight the cloud cover is thick and the darkness intense, nothing to photograph.
If I could clear my head of this morning's anthem (I mean yesterday morning's anthem) it might be possible to sleep, but Purcell's "Thou knowest Lord" is careering round on a loop.
It's a strange thing, but often a piece of music I only half know will present itself note-for-note when I am trying to sleep, yet when I do sleep and wake again it is once more full of errors and missing 'bits'.
Insomnia is a common theme in my blogs, a part of my life which I should really take for granted since it has been going on for most of that life, yet I still feel cheated when someone talks about their usual 8 hours sleep a night.
It is of course perfectly possible to function normally on too little sleep (despite the black bags under the eyes) and many people manage on half the recommended amount, but it surely must have some long-term detrimental affect?
I remember as a child being told to "go to sleep", as though it were something one just 'did', like tying shoelaces or combing one's hair.
For some children the words seem to act like an on/off switch, but not for me. Not then and not now.
All the tried and trusted remedies have over the years been found ineffective and I've run out of ideas of my own, so, if anyone knows a magic formula will they please attach it to the tail feathers of an owl and point it my way.
Sleep well lucky people.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 2:12:00 am
Monday, 10 October 2016
He has made a huge difference to my jungle and not only have I got patches of bare soil for the first time in years, but I can see daylight where there has been impenetrable gloom for ages.
Sadly it is now plain that my years of neglect have cost me the loss of several old friends, roses in particular, but some shrubs too.
This has been a very strange year weather-wise, with very heavy rain in June, followed by drought for most of the time since.
Some of that time has been very hot, some of it merely warm, and now fairly chilly, but with one common theme. It has been very dry.
Every time the clouds billow up and the sky darkens, we wait with baited breath for the much needed and regularly forecast rain, in vain. It never arrives.
Even now, the East wind strong and cold is blowing the rain clouds elsewhere and it looks as though we are going to lose out once more.
I haven't yet planted the bulbs I bought a couple of weeks ago as the ground is too hard.
Situated as we are in the South East Midlands or North West Home Counties, or even South East England ( it depends on which TV weather programme you watch), we get hard to predict weather.
Since we appear to have no regular geographical location it is obvious that the weather has no idea how to find us.
Unfortunately this does not apply to the winds, particularly the cold ones. They seem able to locate us with the greatest of ease.
I am not really complaining since, so far at least, we never seem to experience flooding, which is a great blessing, but, please Lord may we have some rain? (at night preferably).
Posted by Ray Barnes at 5:07:00 pm
Saturday, 1 October 2016
But, in one of the few bright spells I decided to go out and dig out a large bramble which has appeared in one of the few weed-free spaces.
Taking my sturdy two-pronged fork from the shed I started to dig around the base of the beast. I dug and dug until I was about six inches down, still no sign of roots. For about six or seven minutes (quite a long time for someone of my age to be digging bent over from the waist (don't ask).
I stopped when a voice said "Gooday Mate that's my hair your pulling". Actually I had found the root.
As I tugged it out of the ground I suddenly noticed my horrible hands, gnarled and with distended veins, wrinkled and not at all how I mentally view my hands.
Obviously I am forced to look at my face every day when I attempt to make myself fit to be seen, but apart from ladling cream onto them I seldom look at my hands. Really look I mean.
The hands at the top of this page are the way I think my hands look, the pair below are much nearer the truth.
Why, as well as all the other physical indignities which are inflicted on the aged do we have to acquire such hideous hands.?
Often I take pleasure in looking at the face of a friend or acquaintance who has aged well, but an unwary glance at their hands tells a different story.
Heaven forbid I should be accused of vanity but why can't nature leave us just a little something to be proud of?
Surely it is the job of veins to remain under the surface quietly getting on with their job not to sit in full view like so many tree roots for all to see.
Is nothing sacred?
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:46:00 pm