Friday, 29 June 2012

Many are called

There is much comment around the blogs today about Petertide and the fact that it is the time when many/most Anglican clergy are ordained.

Not something I know much about, but of interest because I am intrigued by the whole process.

During the two years and three months since I was baptised and confirmed I have had many opportunities to see those who have been ordained as priests and a few who were still en route, and it never fails to amaze me to see just how diverse and different they are in their approach.

From my very anti-religious upbringing (well covered in previous posts), and with a life-long scepticism, not to say cynicism of all things pertaining to Christianity, it has surprised and occasionally shocked me to find that many, if not most, of those caught up in the 'business' of religion have an absolute certainty that they were not only 'called' but always intended for this path.

Seeing quite a few ministers of various complexions of Christianity in action, that is, in church and in the wider community, it has been fascinating to find that despite the very different routes to their chosen way of life, they all appear to have a fundamental, rock-solid, belief in what they are doing.

Because it has been my chosen method of filling some of my time to 'hang around' occasionally to work, in a parish office, I have been privileged to observe at rather closer quarters than many, the sheer volume of hard, unrelenting demands on the time and energy of the clergy, which make up the daily work-load of these often criticised and verbally abused individuals.

There appears to be no 'cut-off' point where it is possible to say "I'm not on duty", and even the one-day a week off is hard come by, and occasionally sacrificed in response to a particular appeal.

Not only those who wear the 'dog-collar', but their families pay a considerable price for the privilege of being a parish priest.

I wonder how many of those about to be ordained have any real idea of what lies ahead, and just what it means to answer the call.

Whoever and wherever they be, my thoughts and prayers are with them.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Catastrophe of Cats.

If there was a collective noun for cats, in my life it would have to be "a catastrophe of cats".

Not because I dislike cats, as some of you may have noticed, but because, like all the best things in life, they come with strings attached.

On Friday I was sitting at my desk minding my own business, when the post landed with a crash in the hall below.

When I bent to pick it up I noticed one large envelope stuck in the letter-box.  I tugged it and it remained stuck, so I opened the front door intending to stand on the doorstep and tug from that side.

Unfortunately, my neighbour's cat Morris was perched on the step, and trying not to step on him and to grab the envelope at the same time, I tripped, fell between the step and a large wooden tub scraped my arm and leg and banged my head on the edge of the tub as I fell.

My first shocked reaction was "thank heaven no-one is about, I must look like a drunk", quickly followed by "oh heck, I can't get up".

Eventually pushing Morris out of the way, I scrambled somehow to my feet and hobbled indoors.

I have grazed arms and right leg, and a large very pale blue bruise on my forehead, but other than a 24 hour headache no further injuries.

This is by no means the first time I have fallen over a cat in my long history, particularly in the days when I was an active member of Cats' Protection.   Trying to round up young ferals in a colony in order to get them to a vet for injections, neutering etc can be great fun, as you may imagine.

Trying to entice a really wild feral into a trap/cage in order to get it examined even more so, but this has never really stopped me from wanting to spend time and energy on improving the lives of the less fortunate members of the feline society.

My late father was also cat mad, and in their retirement my parents fed many of the neglected farm cats in the area of East Anglia which was their  home for 31 years.

The cat (click to enlarge picture), at the top of this post was one such.

A lovely semi-feral whom my father adored, named Sextus, due to his 6-toed front paws.  He was a sweet-natured and friendly cat who loved everything and everybody.  Oddly, this included a large male blackbird with whom he happily shared his food, and a roaming hen who used to sit, side-by-side with him in Dad's greenhouse.

They can be sweet, gentle soft and lazy, and the next minute vicious, predatory frenzied killers.  They can get under your feet, sit on you when you least expect it and dig their claws in to obtain a good purchase on their chosen lap.

They can be unbelievably psychic, knowing when someone is on their way to your door, though you don't.
They can be distant and remote, answering neither calls, soft chirruping sounds or any other blandishments, or if they choose, can virtually throw their paws round your neck.

A wonderful section of the animal kingdom.  A complete menace.  A loyal and loving family member.
A total mystery.

A cat.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Longest Day

As a true Celt, (seven eighths Welsh and one eighth Cornish), I feel I ought to be celebrating the Summer Solstice.

Just how, is a problem, since I am now a baptised and confirmed Christian, (an uneasy combination).

So, rather than go out into my soggy bedraggled garden at dawn to face the sun, I slept through it and woke to yet another wet day.

The nearest 'standing stones' are some considerable distance from here and local Druids hard to find, so all-in-all probably best to keep quiet about my dodgy heritage.

My paternal grandmother was allegedly (one of the many) an illegitimate daughter of Dr Price of Llantrisant,
doctor, chartist and self-styled druid.  She was adopted by the man her mother later married and received h is name, and as was the style in those days, kept silence about her origins.  If indeed, she ever really knew them.

This is a family myth and may have no real substance, but there were signs of anti-establishment and indeed somewhat revolutionary traits in three of my father's brothers and his own communist beliefs must have sprung from somewhere, so who knows, maybe the rumours had some substance.

During the early part of  my life I was  very close to my father's parents and stayed with them for about 7 or 8 months when the war started.  My two eldest brothers stayed with my mother's parents and so grew up closer to them.

Father's parents were very much more obviously Welsh than my mother's parents and I had quite a strong attachment to my Welsh roots for many years.

Nowadays, the fact that I still sing and occasionally have a word or two with my household dragons (Ivan Llewellyn Pendragon and little Rhodri) is just about as Welsh as I feel.

Oh, and I nearly forgot, I support the Welsh rugby side in the six-nations games.

Time to leave the mystic side of life and return to cleaning the loo.  Ah well.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Virtual Reality versus The Real Thing

Today I heard an ageing rock/pop performer lamenting the fact that 'social media' is occupying so much of our time.  He said "We spend our lives in virtual reality, while our bodies slump in a chair waiting for our minds to come back".

It struck me quite forcibly as being only too true and, set me wondering just why this particular activity has taken over the world.

For some, I'm sure, it is the lure of the next new gadget, toy, piece of technology.  For some it is a way of contacting shadowy people who would never normally come their way.  For others, myself included it is a means of printing my thoughts and the events of an ordinary day, in a manner which hopefully, will gain a response - if you like, a way of side-stepping loneliness.

But there is another, slightly more worrying reason which appears to be a means of  avoiding real life while playing at it on a tiny hand-held gadget.

In fact so-called social media is in fact exactly the opposite, a completely anti-social habit forming way of ensuring that the fleet-fingered/thumbed practitioners remain in splendid isolation.

Yesterday, my stepdaughter and step-grandson visited me (the first time for about 10 months), because the grandson is briefly on R and R from Afghanistan and he is due back this weekend.

He is a technological whiz and spent about a half an hour setting up some of the functions I wanted on my IPad for me.  He doesn't have to think when asked to do something, he just knows how, and on the rare occasions when asked for something he hasn't encountered before, can work it out in a couple of minutes.

I am very grateful for his help (and have been reading aFREE book this morning), but I am beginning to wonder whether it is a good idea.

I was delighted to own such a 21st Century piece of equipment since I am very much a 20th Century piece.
But and it is a serious concern, should I ever become truly competent will it in fact begin to take the place of real life.

Simon's life is all too real, and for him, it is probably a way of staying sane in a mad world, so I could never begrudge him his collection of gadgets, but at what stage does reality bow out?

As he drove off in his Ford Focus SR (another of his passions) I couldn't help but wonder what would happen to the gadget addicts should their toys suddenly become inoperable overnight.  Whatever would they put in their place?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Talk to the Animals

This is the 'bun on the run' I wrote about last time, on the first day of his bid for freedom.

As you can see, although he is eating an apple core i threw out for the blackbirds, he is fairly fat.

By the time he was captured and returned to his not overly concerned owners, he was thin and bedraggled looking.

This evening I  have been pulling up tons of forget-me-not which have been making my nearly impenetrable jungle even more so.

Stupidly, I left the back door open.  I know, asking for trouble, and it arrived, in the form of Hercules the red terror of a previous post.

He is a beautiful, well-fed, ginger cat friendly and well-behaved around humans, but an evil predatory killer of all feathered things.  So, generally speaking I do not welcome his presence, particularly during the breeding season.  He has single-handedly, so to speak, polished of about a third of the local bird population and has the even more charming habit of leaving their feathers, beaks etc. in my next-door-neighbours garden.

As you may imagine he is not the most popular animal on the planet and I chased him away from the area I was working in and then forgot about him.

Having done about 20 minutes hard weeding I'd had enough and headed back indoors.  As I did so Hercules shot out of the kitchen and fled,

Heart in mouth I pelted upstairs and yes, of course, there is a lovely set of muddy footprints right across my pale pink duvet.  (Bless his little heart - which, if I catch him - I may just cook  and eat)!

It is my own fault for leaving the door open, and I do love all cats - well most cats - I will make an exception in his case.

Later this year I am hoping that my lovely Iconographer friend Constantina, will begin on an Icon of St Francis for me, details to be discussed.

Famed for his love of all God's creatures, I can't help wondering what he would have made of Hercules.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The pictures are just a few of the Jubilee decorated St Mary's, not very good pictures but if you double click on them more detail can be seen.

The fourth one is purely red white and (dyed) blue flower heads and is the work of our excellent St M's bloomers.

Unfortunately the awful weather made the church rather dark so photographs by a (at best) poor beginner, do not really do justice to spectacular gasp-inducing 1st sight of our festive church in all its splendour.

Sadly, since then, I have had a longish spell of poor health - see previous post - but am now OK again and looking forward to tomorrow's service and later in another church, a baptism.

This baptism is that of the little one year old sister of 4 year old Scarlet, whose big day was held last year.
Regular readers may remember she is the little girl who objected strenuously to having her 'hair washed'.

Little Zara is fortunately, too small to object in quite the same way, though she will doubtless make her voice heard.

This morning I have been helping some of my neighbour's children to round up an escaped rabbit.  A small terrified brown and white "Dutch" which has been on the run for a week.  Thankfully they captured it and returned it to its owner, considerably thinner than when it did its Houdini-type run.

Have been looking at the wrecked jungle which is currently my soggy, wind flattened back garden and am looking forward to getting to grips with it once both weather and health and available time coincide.

Lots going on, I am profoundly thankful to say.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Pain - when to complain

Not a subject I had ever thought to blog about - physical pain, that is.

Having read a few articles/posts about pain from some of the bloggers whom I read regularly and whose approach I approve and appreciate, I thought perhaps it was time for me to use my normal open and frank attitude to describe my current state.

Generally not a self-indulgent individual and also a fairly private one, it has been 'normal' for me to skirt round physical difficulties, but this latest bout is sufficiently severe I think, to warrant an airing.

For the past forty or so years I have had diverticular disease.  For anyone unfamiliar with the term, may I suggest you Google it.

Prone to bouts of fairly fierce pain in the early days, I responded to the then perceived wisdom and changed my eating habits totally.

A vegetarian and I think, a pretty healthy eater, I nevertheless took the available advice and made further adjustments to my diet and for years suffered little or no pain and very few serious bouts of diverticulitis.

Since late last Summer however, things have changed and there have been a number of incidences of pain and bloating, which culminated in January with my having to be 'taken home' from St. Mary's by a lovely caring lay pastoral lady.

I saw my GP and was sent to see a consultant at the local hospital who examined me and said I needed a scan to find out what was happening.

This I had in April and since then the number of attacks of pain have increased at quite a rate and recently have included vomiting as well as pain.

While I wait for the consultant to advise me on treatment my GP has given me very strong pain-killers and anti-vomiting tablets for any attacks in the interim (the appointment is not until 9th August).

Last Friday I was unable to make the choir rehearsal and again on Sunday, the service.  Walking round and round in dizzy circles, unable to sit or lie.  Groaning aloud, not my choice of behaviour, and trying to talk normally to neighbours (the Jubilee shindig), while hanging on to the last shreds of dignity has given me a whole new perspective on what constitutes pain, but not alas, on how to cope with it.

Today I started without pain, drank two coffees then felt the usual alarming stabs which herald the arrival of the pain and decided rather than suffer in (comparative) silence, I would blog it.

If there is anyone out there with experience of this very distressing complaint who can maybe give me a tip or two on other things I might try, I would be very very glad to hear from you.