It is good to be able to say that, just recently I have been able to share a meal or two with people who are not exclusively members of my own family. I mention it because, as I have done this, I have been struck by how much people are enjoying being able to have a good chat with one another now that we seem to be moving into a period of slightly reduced worry about the risks of Covid 19 (remember that?)… but also because, as part of the process of eating with other people, I have, once again become aware of the way in which I bolt my food! I eat far faster than almost anyone else I know, perhaps with the exception of a Bishop I know, who will remain nameless! The experience of realising this again, reminded me of an occasion several years ago at Rydal Hall, where a woman I really liked looked across the lunch table at me and told me that I ate too fast, and that her grandmother had insisted that her grandchildren should chew their food 100 times before swallowing! I remember the idea blowing me away! If you follow this advice, meals take a lot longer… but in return you discover that you actually taste the food, and in the end you need less to feel satisfied - it is lovely!

All this has had me wondering why it is that I am so pressed for time? I know I am not alone! What happened? I suppose it is because most of us are struggling to find some sort of ‘unity’ and order, in everything we are asked to do from day by day. I know this is what I aim for each week...and it is time consuming! Sometimes people like me are called ‘OCD’. Maybe I am...but, somehow, it seems preferable to the ‘out of control’ option!

A lot of things feel ‘out of control’ at the moment. We can only ‘look on’ as Russia wars on in the Ukraine, and as so many other things seem to be spinning slightly out of control as a result. Nowadays, people have a lot of very real concerns. Frankly, I could forgive anyone who wanted to ‘stop the bus’ and get off. In it all, the question I ask myself is: ‘Are we heading towards a technological Utopia...or will my children’s future look like some sort of dystopian nightmare, where no one has the time to agree on anything, and the only way to survive, in community, is to avoid everyone else?’ There is a lot to pray about at the moment.

I remember the day I drove to Rydal Hall for lunch. I remember the journey. Driving along the shores of Thirlmere at 9am, in the sunshine, the stillness of the scene was transcendent. The reflection of Brown Rigg and Swithin Crag in the mirror-still waters, was clearer than the reality of the mountains that cast it. Then, as I drove by the castellated pumping tower, a gust of wind blew and obliterated the unity of the scene. The reflection was gone. The water was in chaos, and I felt as if God were speaking to me:

‘Darkness was over the surface of the deep,

and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters’...(Genesis Ch1vs2)

‘The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth

Right up to the present time......

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us

with groans that words cannot express’... (Romans Ch8vs22 &26)

 

‘Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.

Now we know in part, then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known...

And now these three remain: faith hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love...(1Corinthians Ch13vs12)

 

Only God knows where we are all heading, and where reality lies. In the mean time, we must make the time to go on loving and forgiving...and to appreciate our food and chew it properly…although 100 times does seem like an awful lot!

God bless you all! Philip