Sunday, 30 November 2014

Advent- the meaning is in the waiting


Moments of great calm
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer; waiting for God
To speak: the air a staircase
For silence: the sun's light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great role. And the audiences
Still: all that close throng 
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
                Prompt me God
But not yet. When I speak
Though it be you who speak
Through me something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.

It is hard to believe that it is December tomorrow. It seems such a short time since the end of the summer and the return to college. Although I am not keen on the dark mornings, or scraping the ice of the car with numbed fingers, nevertheless I love this time of year and in particular find Advent invested with meaning. I always try to read something that will help me reflect on Advent during December and this year I am reading a book by Paula Gooder which takes its title from the last line of this poem by R.S.Thomas. So many Christian books are, to be quite frank, just so much drivel but so far so good with this one and I think it might prove a meaty and meaningful read.
I am not a patient person, yet when it comes to Advent I don't have a problem with the waiting. I am not enormously fond of Christmas day and it is the intense spirituality of Advent, shrouded in darkness, unknowing and anticipation that appeals to me more. In the spirit of waiting, I am trying to take some time out this Advent, and, even in my reading, to pause, reflect, to write about or pray about what I read. It isn't easy because I constantly find myself lacking time and rushing from one thing to the next. I know it isn't just me. It is a common complaint for most of us, isn't it?
Today, I spent some time thinking about the poem above and found it brought to my mind most powerfully the experience of Quaker worship, not the sort I usually experience where I fall asleep or my mind wanders off and I start making "to do"lists, but the rare but beautiful moments when silence is all that is needed and quietness it is an end in itself and not a waiting room or adjunct to something else.
That is when the meaning is in the waiting.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Do dogs have souls? (Part twenty-four)

Interesting article today about how dogs brains are hard wired to respond to humans. The evidence is based around stuff like neuroimaging and the way the  caudate nucleus lights up when they see, or more importantly smell, humans.There's nothing like a few scientific terms to baffle and impress, of course, more convincing to me was that dogs apparently are the only species to seek out eye contact. So your dog sees you as its family and it really does care...awww...but then didn't we know that anyway?

NB: I do keep planning to blog on something with more gravitas than how lovely dogs are or what I've done over half term but am just really busy still and spent a weekend recently wiped out with nasty winter vomiting bug. Just be glad I didn't blog that one.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Weekend away

We headed down South this past weekend partly to enjoy a half term break away but also so that we could see our son, as I explained to Mr M, I just needed to "lay eyes on him and check he looks OK." The good news was that he did indeed look  and sound OK. He reports that there is a shed load of work but that he is absolutely loving tutorials and student life in general. He was also very enthusiastic about a lecture he had attended given by Roger Penrose who designed the tiling outside the Maths Institute; son was sporting a hoodie with the tiling on it and tried to explain to me why the tiling was important- but you can just read about it on the link if you are interested.We also took him for a meal in The Eagle and Child,  it seems he has been pretty much living off Tesco's value food and kebabs.

Penrose tiling

Penrose hoodie

We also visited the Ashmolean Museum, although we didn't really have as much time as we would have liked. On Sunday morning we went to Sung Eucharist at the Cathedral at Christ Church. On our way back we visited Bletchley Park, again there wasn't enough time to get round everything and we hope to visit again as you can return within twelve months and reuse your ticket- tickets are  pinned up on the board in the kitchen but that is no guarantee we won't forget them. All in all, a lovely trip away. Just a shame to have to get back to the routine!