Sunday, 6 November 2011

Of Etsy rings, old books and a thousand thanks in the making.

13. Newly minted in the morning autumn colours.

14. Feeling the sun's warmth on a November day.
15. Walks and talks with a good friend and pizza.

16. Beautiful etsy ring in the post.

17. Even more beautiful old book from a dear friend's online antique bookstore.

18. Excitement about the Old Testament after a theology class.

19. How theology leaves to hunger for more and praise.

20. Rushing rushing river and elusive far away (surprised by) joy.

21. Hope and comfort for the grieving.

22. News from a far off land like a drink of cold water.

23. Red pink petals of a rose.

24. "Brown paper packages tied up with string....these are a few of my favourite things" and thanksgiving things too.

25. Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, 4 November 2011

One Thousand Gifts: Beginning the Count.

1. Audio book lifting the heart, drying the tears.
2. Starting to plot Christmas presents.
3. A new haircut.
4. Dank and damp night, but clouds blown across the shining moon.
5. Grocery shopping and planning a week of meals.
6. Antibiotics that kill the earache.
7. The plumber fixing the toilet flush for nothing.
8. Finding happiness and hope in the midst of disappointment.
9. Jaffa cakes and tea drunk at the desk at work.
10. Finding that I can write, that I can find the words.
11. Finding joy in meeting a friend's need and so moving away from self-pity.
12. A hot bath.

So I start to thank and count my thanks. For God is good, and I remember that, when I thank him for the gifts.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The tale of two lost rings and grace.

One ring has a pale blue stone with twisted cross-over type setting. It is pale gold (nine carat). The other ring is silver with etchings around the rim. One is from a Fair Trade shop and the other from a Jewellers.

I wore the aqua ring to work about a month ago, and took it off briefly and put it in my pocket. It must of fallen out. It was one of those days where I had tramped through the hospital (next to the medical school) to buy bits and pieces from the hospital shop. So without speaking to anyone in the department, I frantically re-traced my steps and in the end spoke to hospital security and reported it missing. By this point I had given up on finding it. Rather down-hearted I returned to the Medical School, and thought on the spur of the moment to check with one of the secretaries that no-one had found it. I should of done this at the beginning of my quest to find my ring because it turned out that someone had found it, handed it in and an email had been sent around reporting that a ring had been found. So I got my ring back. It was lost but then later found.

You would think I would of learnt my lesson, but a few weeks later, I wore the silver ring except this time to the GP practice where I work. I had a busy day and was one of the last to leave at 7:30 pm. Before leaving I was running around tidying up and packing up my doctor's bag. In the car driving home, I suddenly realised that my ring was no longer on the my finger. Not as expensive as the other one but with more sentimental value I felt the disappointment. I emailed the practice the next day who looked in the places where I thought it might of fallen off and put up notices. But no-one had found it. The following week, I was duty doctor and visiting a patient at home and pulling equipment out of my doctor's bag. Buried under everything right at the bottom of the bag, I spotted a silver ring. I had found it! What a feeling of sudden relief and happiness.

So I have lost two rings in the space of about 4 weeks and found both of them. I was pondering how "lost" I can become, because of sin, weariness and distractions and how persistent God is at finding me and setting me back on the right track. Or when I see my "lostness" and run home in tears how wide are the open arms and how willing to draw me back. And how are innumerable are the fresh new starts that are to be had.

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!
That saved a wretch like me
I was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see"
John Newton

"Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

" So he got up and went to his Father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him....
'My son', the father said, 'you are always with me and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead but now is alive, he was lost but now is found.'"
Luke 15: 3-10, 20, 31

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Writing and studying routines: CS Lewis

"I would choose always to breakfast at exactly eight and to be at my desk by nine, there to read or write till one. If a cup of good tea or coffee could be brought me about eleven, so much the better.

As step or two out of doors for a pint of beer would not do quite so well; for a man does not want to drink alone and if you meet a friend in the taproom the break is likely to be extended beyond its ten minutes.

At one precisely lunch should be on the table; and by two at the latest I would be on the road. Not, except at rare intervals, with a friend. Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned. The only friend to walk with is one who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared.

The return from the walk, and the arrival of tea, should be exactly coincident, and not later than a quarter past four. Tea should be taken in solitude, …for eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading. It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table. What one wants is a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere…

At five a man should be at work again, and at it till seven. Then, at the evening meal and after, comes the time for talk, or, failing that, for lighter reading; and unless you are making a night of it with your cronies there is no reason why you should ever be in bed later than eleven."

Surprised by Joy, CS Lewis.

I first read Surprised by Joy when I was a teenager and this was one of my favourite passages. The comfort of routine and the pleasure of reading, writing, walking in the countryside and tea drinking. But he also later makes the point that there is a selfishness to such a routine that excludes others. However, there is a security in regularly doing something in a disciplined way but our lives need to be shaped by other priorities at the same time. Priorities that involve making time for people.