(Written in Borders, Riverhead, with a cappuccino, and in a comfortable armchair.) I am armed with a Shop 'n Shop grocery list longer than my arm, for I am not only shopping for the rest of the week but also getting in the ingredients to bake Simnel cakes this weekend. An English medieval custom, I have successfully introduced it into the parish. It is a break from the Lenten fast on Laetare Sunday, and as one who has given up cake, cookies, chocolate and all things sweet, I will appreciate it more than some.
I had a delightful surprise visit this morning when Christina Rees walked through my office door. Christina is the chairwoman of WATCH, an influential women's ministry lobby group in the English church. She has been in NYC attending an United Nations conference on the rights of women , and thankfully found time to come "out east" to visit her sister in Watermill, and pop in to see me for a chat. Christina is married to Chris, also a dear friend, a retired (and actually quite well known, as I don't like to use the word 'famous') BBC radio producer, now freelance. They live in a delightful English village, with a perfect old parish church, and it was so great to see her after some six months since our last chat, and catch up on news and gossip.
We somehow got on to the subject of talks and presentations that we had given, and I was reminded (and told Christina) of the first ever "quiet day" that, having been ordained a matter of weeks, I conducted with a group of some two dozen elderly ladies in rural Somerset (south west England.)
Two sides of the large lecture room had floor to ceiling glass panels and sliding doors which looked out over a field where cows and sheep gently grazed. A perfect pastoral scene, as I delivered my naive words to the assembled group. Perfect, that is, until the bull appeared in the scene, and at the zenith of my spiritual comments proceeded to mount the nearest cow. It was both audible and visual, and I abandoned any attempt to restore gravitas to the room. I suggested that we adjourn to the coffee room - yet some remained!