December Reflections 28: my wish for 2020



It seems to be where we’re going next. We’ve had an offer accepted on a house out on the north-west edge. It has pear trees in the garden.

I should have taken a photo of the first sight from the south, the cathedral side on, rising up from the flat land around it. The Ship of the Fens, they call it. It doesn’t look very ship-like from here, the middle of town.

Even this year I’ve spent a lot of time in Ely, mostly doing Cursillo-related things. It’s been drawing me towards it. City on a hill, fen-bounded island, eely Ely.

One of my internet friends wrote:

Build a home, put down roots, grow stuff, eat pears

and when I read it something resonated inside me: Yes. This. This is what I want.

I felt something similar at the end of the Midnight Eucharist, very early on Christmas morning:

Go in peace. Proclaim the Word made flesh.

Yes, this. And how that works, how far I stay involved with my current church, what else I do, what lies beyond that, I don’t know. I can only trust that two apparently contradictory wishes are in fact taking me towards the same figurative destination. Anyway, this physical location seems to be the place to investigate things further.

Ely, then. May it be good to us.

December Reflections 27: 2019 taught me…


… how to move past despair;

… that my understanding of myself and of the world can change quickly and then feel as if it’s always been that way;

… that riding a road bike is similar to, if not just like, riding a bike;

… that the closer I stick to a template for a talk, the more artificial it sounds;

… about the sheer privilege of loving people;

… about who I’m becoming.

December Reflections 26: delicious


Boxing Day tends to involve a lot of food: either leftovers, or food that is not technically leftovers, but only because nobody got around to cooking it. And when you’re combining British and Polish traditions, you end up with two huge meals, and even more food that needs eating afterwards.

This morning I cooked omelettes topped with smoked salmon, which would have been the fifth or sixth course of Tuesday’s Wigilia (Christmas Eve vigil) meal, if we hadn’t been full after several other dishes of fish/soup/pierogi/carrots/more fish. And I meant to take a photo of them for this prompt, but between cooking them and then eating them I completely forgot about it. So here’s a slice of Christmas Eve bread instead.

It really doesn’t matter. Everything I’ve eaten over the last couple of days has been delicious.

December Reflections 25: today is…


I slept last night in a house that’sbbuilt into the side of a hill, so the bedrooms are downstairs, and when you get up, you literally get up. And coming upstairs to see all the trees lit up in this glorious golden morning sunlight lifted my heart into joy.

We were talking last night about the the tendency of people (all over the place, not just here) to think of a bygone golden age, probably coinciding with the year they were about ten, which of course was never really like that. And somebody said, ‘But the golden age is now’.

Today is golden. Today is illuminated with visible light and a deeper light.

Look at that apple tree.

December Reflections 24: paper


In these quiet days before Christmas I’ve been devising a new scheme for our electronic filing system. As it happened, I found it easier to write out the contents on Post-it notes and then move them around than to do the whole thing on the computer, but that’s fine.

It has to be said that the site was in a bit of a state, and as I’ve been working on this I’ve had in my mind the first of the O Antiphons:

 O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Well, quite.

December Reflections 22: solstice light


I love what the light does in this church. Often – and I can be anywhere in the church, and it can be any time of the day – I am surprised by some new lovely way that it falls. At Evensong on Easter day I am up in the stalls, and the evening light streams richly through the rich colours of the windows at the west end. On a Sunday morning I am usually in the south aisle, and and the light is clear and bright and it makes the pillars look like a watercolour painting. Sometimes a butterfly wakes and flutters around. There’s the warm orange through the chancel windows, and the high summer light filtered through pale green and pink glass in the clerestory. There’s the darkness, too: a stormy Ash Wednesday evening with the windows dark and opaque.

This morning was grey, and I left the house just after the end of the rain. The first part of the church service was the organised chaos of the nativity tableau, and I sat in my usual spot in the south aisle, just behind this window (but it didn’t look like this, then). The second part was the short communion service. I moved into the middle of the church. I didn’t immediately notice that the light was growing brighter and brighter and brighter. Afterwards, I looked up, and the sun was out and shining straight in.

The longest night is over. Here’s the light.