Lent thoughts – Home

As part of my Lent reading I’ve been dipping in and out of Claire Benton-Evans’ book Food for Prayer. It contains daily readings throughout the year with good ideas for prayer. I read this one a couple of days ago and it has stayed with me and I’ve been wandering around my home giving thanks for the little things that make it familiar.

Imagine coming home one night with your family and finding that everything in your house has been taken. Not just the TV and the stereo, but the carpets, the toilet rolls and the hooks for your coats. That is the premise for Alan Bennett’s story, The Clothes They Stood Up In. It explores the effect of such a comprehensive burglary on a prosperous middle-class couple, Mr and Mrs Ransome:

‘What she did miss – and this was harder to put into words – was not so much the things themselves as her particular paths through them. There was the green bobble hat she had had, for instance, which she never actually wore but would always put on the hall table to remind her that she had switched the immersion heater on in the bathroom… But with no bobble hat she’d twice left the immersion on all night and once Mr Ransome had scalded his hand.’

In your prayers today, walk around your home and appreciate the little things that make it familiar. Take some time to thank God for these everyday comforts, perhaps using these words:

We bless you for the chance to be ourselves,
for the tasks that weave the pattern of our days,
for the sweet, familiar round of ordinary things.
Blessed are you, strong, sheltering God.

Related image

Giving thanks for my reclining chair, fresh bed linen, my new red spotty tablecloth, many pictures and paintings which take me to faraway places in my mind, my favourite fountain pen, Gloria the printer and photocopier making books for Holy Week, a pebble from Brighton beach, a smelly candle giving off the scent of raspberries, and oh so much more… When I was made homeless I lost most of our ‘stuff’ and learned that stuff was just that… stuff. We survived without it. In time I bought more stuff and none of it matched and that didn’t matter. And now I have too much stuff in my home, but all the clutter tells a story and in time the stories hopefully will remain when the stuff is long gone.


In which Ruth ponders going home

St Michael and All Saints will always be home for me. It was my first church, the church where I grew up, the church where I grew in God. It was the church where I was confirmed at Candlemas, where I sank into my first Holy Week, where I climbed the mountain to all the great Feasts of the Church. It was the church where I was one of the first women to serve at the altar and what a privilege that was, and still is. It was the church where I learned to laugh at religion, and laugh and laugh. It was the church where I first made my Confession and was forgiven and laughed and cried.

Whenever I go back it is like going home. The pews may be hard but they are just the right height for me to sit comfortably. On a good day I can even kneel which I can’t do anywhere else these days. But there is something about the smell of Spiky Mike’s that gets me every time. It is the smell of stones soaked in incense and candles and prayer. And as I dip my fingers in that little glass bowl at the door to make the sign of the cross, I know I’ve come home. I’ve come home and it will be easy to get into that place where you can worship God in comfort and ease. I won’t need to sit and check everything out. I won’t be surprised by anything: be it sudden prayer or unusual hymns. I know how the service will go and it does. I know the Easter hymns will be the same Easter hymns we had when I was there fifteen years ago. I can relax and let go and let God.

On Sunday I was on holiday for my post-Easter breakdown. I’d had a week of reading and relaxing and tidying and pottering. All week I had been wondering where I’d go to church. Go home. Go home. But its a fifty mile round trip. Go home. So I did. And they were all there, those familiar faces, older now with more grey hair. And new ones too, people I didn’t know. People doing the jobs I used to do. I used to read, and do the intercessions and serve at that altar, you know. I’ve preached from that pulpit, you know, and some left and sat outside because I am a woman. I’ve celebrated the mass at that altar, you know. And some stayed away and the thunder cracked and we laughed nervously and I looked out at all those affirming faces and knew it was going to be all right. This is home for me. It is not perfect. It sometimes makes me angry. Sometimes I wish it would modernise a little. Just a little. But home is like that. Home isn’t always perfect.

Spiky Mike’s are getting a new priest soon. Fr Martin will learn to love the sights, and smells and the people just as I do. They were all talking about him on Sunday. What will he be like? Will he want to make changes? Will he love us? And then the conversation quickly changed to the Bishop’s throne and who will climb up to dress it for Fr Martin’s Institution because that’s what Spiky Mike’s think they do best. They make liturgy happen and they want it to be the best for God. (The Bishop’s throne came from a skip outside the King’s Theatre, by the way!)

So I went home. And it is good that home is there for me. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’d change a few things if I could. But maybe its just as well I can’t.

StM high altar

Table talk

Just before I left St Columba’s (and St Peter’s) I was asked what I would like as a leaving present. St C’s wanted to buy me a gift that would be useful for my new rectory. I was given an idea of the cash available so I chose a coffee table. I did have a little gorgeous purple coffee table from Ikea (‘Lack’ if you are interested) but it wasn’t really big enough.

I saw a lovely table in the Cotswold Co catalogue and decided that as it contained lots of drawers (to hide all the bits and bobs that end up cluttering the corners) and a hinged chest area for bigger things, it would be ideal. And it was on Sale.

It has been a long time coming, but today it arrived. Here is a pic of what it looks like in place. Please also note the candle is by Jo Malone (and a gift) and the daffodils were arranged by my own fair hand. Pretty impressive, eh? Yes, I know I’ll never be asked to do the Easter display.

I should also add that St P’s gave me a very generous gift too and I bought a drill and put the rest towards a new sofa (seen in pic too).


Blogging lapse

Not much time for blogging when you are playing nurse. Not much time for anything really. But mum has gone back to my sisters and is probably very relieved to be out of this mad house. However, we are nearly there. Only one room to be sorted and a bit of tweaking here and there and it will be fine.

The new sofas (thanks Sons and Friends of the Clergy!) arrived earlier than we expected this morning so it was a bit of a panic trying to get rid of the old furniture and rearranging things for them to fit. G put the covers on and they look fine. A little firmer than in the shop but I guess they will soften down a bit. Good for your posture though. And much better than having to heave the infirm out of the old one.

I’ve been back in Edinburgh for nearly 2 weeks and still haven’t gone ‘up town’ shopping. May be tomorrow.