Cogitation #5, Sunday 13 March, 2016–My pace the week of March 7-13, steady, relaxed, engaged, had many elements to calm any over-stimulated tourist. As if in slow motion, I marveled time and again how sea, fields, hills, lanes, sky and moors are knitted together in the carefree abundance and beauty of God’s good world . . . on the edge of Eden, I say.
If you think I’m too-pie-in-the-sky, you’re partly right. Not in any diminishment of the vastness of the good that fills God’s universe, but what do I make of all that’s wrong with the world? I am distressed, but not paralyzed, by what I hear and see in the news: the plight of refugees; unrest in the Middle East; economic slow-down in China; the effects of austerity in the UK on the poor and disabled; financial pressures on the beloved National Health Service (NHS); homelessness; hunger; job insecurity; living wage; food waste; sexual politics and gender imbalance; global crimes; the impact of climate change on place, people and other forms of living things; faith communities in retreat; the Sika mosquito virus quandary in Brazil. One of my responses is prayer.
In Monday’s Lenten study, the section, “The God who shares our pain,” we looked more closely at Jesus pain as Jesus and a few disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray(Mark 14:43-46). In Jesus agonizing prayer, sweat falling from his face like drops of blood, we see the most amazing truth of all: “our God not only understands our pain and suffering-but actually shares it.” Jesus, both human and divine, shares the pain of the whole world and is about to give his life to redeem the world, both human and physical.
Nelson Kraybill (On Way the Pilgrims’ Way) chapter 4, “Take courage in prayer,” concludes with this prayer we may make our own: “Dear God, I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the scale of emotional, spiritual, and physical need just in my own neighborhood. Beyond this neighborhood lies a world where children starve and nations destroy each other. Let me not forget or ignore that reality. Teach me how to pray, how to see clearly my own need for you. Let me empty myself of the need to succeed, and fill me with a passion for your kingdom. Teach me to give like Jesus gave, joyfully and freely. Amen.”
On Tuesday we kitted ourselves out for a walk in the rain. Seven miles later, with a stop for lunch at Scarlet in Lelant, we arrived home in sunshine, with a load of vegetables from a farm stand in my backpack. The trek took us through a familiar lane sodden with mud–we made it in bracing style.
Wednesday’s high wind, 60-70mph along the coast, kept us in, reading, writing, watching palms and bushes switch to and fro. Somewhere that day I can across the word, “clickbait.” It’s an enticement to click on a link to a particular web page paid by an advertiser. Sneaky, sneaky.
On Thursday we did our first walk this year from Truro to Malpas. After lunch at the Heron Inn in that hamlet we took a different way to connect with the bridleway back to Truro. En route we chatted with another couple out walking and with a gentleman sitting on a bench enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. The elderly man had been ill, still recuperating, but was glad to be out for the first time in a long time. He said his son had just recently spent a week in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We were British about it all and did not probe as to what his son did or any of his own personal details. But we talked at length about snow in Indiana (his son left a day early to get to the airport in Detroit) and other neutral subjects (like he was going to have to vacate his house for three days so the plumber could do major repairs). Another time our chat could delve deeper. He was wearing red socks and a dapper Sherlock Holmes hat.
Friday: library, lunch at the Lifeboat, ATM, tickets for an Easter Monday coach excursion to Tavistock and Buckfast Abbey, groceries at Tesco. You’ll remember I began with a comment on the week’s pace just right to calm any over-stimulated tourist. How calm I am.
Saturday saw us in Penzance for a visit to the Penlee House Gallery & Museum. It’s our favorite gallery, home to works by the Newlyn school of artists from 1880s-1940s. The featured exhibit was works by Ithell Colquhoun (1906-1988).
Also on exhibit was a painting by Laura Knight (1877-1970), Flying a Kite. The painting has been in South Africa for 102 years and has been on loan in Cornwall for the first time since it was painted. The view looks down from Newlyn across to Penzance, nine children gather round to fly one kite. Magnificent!
The lead story in Saturday’s Independent newspaper reports on the danger of the north of England becoming a “cultural wasteland” as town leaders struggle to cope with the government’s austerity measures that slash funds for galleries and museums. One of the subheads reads, “Cuts are ‘kick in the teeth’ for region while national institutions in London enjoy increased funding.” Art and culture–music, libraries, theatre are vital to the health of a community now and for generations to come.
So, do you have a minute for some shake-your-head stuff? In Farnborough, where little is likely to stir more anger among residents than the lack of parking, it has been revealed that an 80 spaces parking lot was built in 2010 atop a leisure centre. Only problem is there’s no way cars can get it. The lot is accessible only by a pedestrian entrance. The vehicle bridge to it has to wait for adjacent construction–no date given
Little did I know that “Happy heart syndrome” can be a killer. “Elderly people who have been married for most of their lives and pass away within days of their spouse are often said to have died of a broken heart,” I read in The Independent. The syndrome, Takotsubo Syndrome (TTS) was first described in 1990, triggered by episodes of severe emotional distress. Here’s the kicker: the same syndrome “can be triggered during moments of extreme happiness, according to new research published in the European Heart Journal.” The condition has been named “happy heart syndrome.” The article states, “Of 485 clear cases of TTS studied . . . 20 (four per cent) were precipitated by happy and joyful events, such as a birthday party, wedding or birth of a grandchild. The 465 (96 per cent) were triggered by sad and stressful events.” The odds clearly are in support of whooping it up. As oft repeated, social links are as important as money or health for a good later life.
Two more? I quote a marketing officer: “Consumers have got used to a very disposable, fashion-based economy, where they are used to change clothes every couple of days-or even every day. We’re starting to see retailer thinking: ‘How can we take advantage of that?'” Would you be surprised to see a time when people just hire their clothes on a day to day basis?
Then there’s the Canadian town who desperately needs a stylist. Wanted: a hairdresser who can withstand -50C (-58F) weather and rectify years of amateur styling. The town is Norman Wells (800 pop) in the Northwest Territories, near the southern edge of the Artic Circle. The nearest hairdressers are a 17-hour drive or a four-hour flight away. “It’s a beautiful town, everybody knows everybody,” said Nicky Richards, the towns economic development officer. “But it has its challenges,” she added.
As my grandfather, Solomon said many times, “It’s time to go to meetin'” He was always early since he was the church custodian. With that, adieu! -John