Day 27 Saturday October 7
Yesterday we drove up from Devon to London, and ticked off one more thing on our bucket list, a trip to the West End to see the Mousetrap, the world’s longest continuously running play. We now know whodunnit, but like all other audiences, we are sworn to secrecy! Now we are travelling, avec trés grande vitesse, south through France by train – forgive the stutters in my typing- to Marseille, and then Provence, in search of sun, lavender, wine, tranquility, and space and time to write. Life is full and blessed, and as you in Canada prepare for Thanksgiving celebrations, we join you in singing Thanksgiving.
Day 25 Thursday October 5
Devon is warmer than Derbyshire! Spent a sunny day of rest and running errands with Norman and his mother, capped with a day-early birthday supper at the harbour in Brixham, watching the rise of the rare October Harvest moon. This past week has put me in an odd mood, contemplating the meaning, not of life so much as of dying. All around in this northern land are signs of the waning of summer, the gathering of the harvest of the land. For me, this week, they all add to this sense that dying is a harvesting of the gifts of living. As a ripe apple bears in its fat sweetness and blushed skin the fecund gifts of earth, sun, soil, and toil, how do our human bodies, as they age, and prepare for death, contain the richness of the lives we live? Will we allow ourselves a last riot of autumnal colour, tart-sweetness, and fruitfulness as we bequeath our life to the generations that follow? As I have been companion to three people this week who are approaching the end of their mortal lives, I am reminded that while we may no choice about the fact of our dying, we do have choice about the attitude with which we can live our summer and autumn seasons so that our death may be more of a harvest than a tragedy for those we will leave behind.
Day 24 Wednesday October 4
England doesn’t take up much room on the map of the world, but when you want to travel its length, boy it takes up time! Today I am grateful for the technologies that make it possible for us to travel farther than we can walk in a day. I am grateful for the chance to watch the landscape soften, and roll more gently as I travelled south, from the gritstone moors, through the forested Midlands, across the wide estuary of deceptively sleepy Severn river, into the sun-kissed uplands of Devon. I am grateful for the week just passed, and grateful to be close again to the man I love, and who loves me. I am grateful.
Day 23 Tuesday October 3
Last Friday I wrote “Being back in the Peak District provokes some deep stirring of groundedness. This is my soil, my earth, my ground, my horizons, my scents, my liquid light, my accents.” After almost a week in my topography, I realize that life is our ground. While this land is where I grew to adulthood, it is not where I am grounded now. There’s a profound displacement that has happened, as the thirty years of life in Canada have themselves continued to shape and mold my being, as wife, life partner, mother, grandmother, theologian, teacher, pastor… It is life itself, that “in every breath we take” that can be our grounding. I get ready to leave again, glad for this charged, intense time with my parents, and gladdened to know that soil, sound, scent, sight, all shape us, but it is God’s gift of life that is our core. Perhaps that’s the essence of what it means to be a Sojourner.
Day 22 Monday October 2
This day was not easy. Emotionally raw on a number of levels, most of which I won’t record here. What I will offer is the prayer that grew from the day, in hope that it may be of some use to help to others.
HOLY ONE, sometimes I don’t agree with your take on life. Why suffering? Why aging? Why the ravages of dementia, the incapacities of arthritis, the unhealable wounds of words long ago uttered in rage or spite, that now block the arteries of love, care, or trust? It seems so…. harsh, cruel, unloving! And yet…. when we return again, and again, to the ones we’ve, in our brokenness, hurt, and been hurt by, there it is…. love. The sort of love born in sorrow, that abides through long winters…it is, after all, what lasts. So, HOLY ONE, though I WISH you’d made life easier, I will thank you, for love, that outlasts all things. That is “the greatest of these” after all. Amen.
Day 21 Sunday October 1.
I worshipped God with the people of the C of E parish of St Michael’s, Macclesfield. The bells of this church have rung in every quarter hour of my time here, so it makes sense that meet the folk who proclaim in this ancient way the abiding presence of God in the midst of life. Many lament the waning of the Christian faith and witness in England. This parish is doing what it can to be a vital presence in weekday ministries in the town centre, while sharing leadership resources with the parishes of local villages. They have worked hard today demystify the liturgy of the Anglican tradition in simple ways, and it was good to share my pew with seniors on one side, and a family on the other. While I have n doubt that both in North American and in UK, church is waning, it is also being rebellion RJ in ways we still can barely imagine, for the simple reasons n that God is nnotfinished with the world, God still has dreams for the world, and is still working through people of many faiths to create justice, and hope, through courageous loving.