Change But Not Decay

Margaret needed to take an early bus this morning, so I walked with her to the High Street stop and started my run from there this morning — meaning that I ran the opposite direction from my usual. It was a startling reminder of how great a difference that perspective makes. Up till the Ladybank Paddock stop (where I disembark from the X2 from Oxford), I just don’t see the parks and buildings and landmarks from the widdershins direction, and it was delightful.

Coffee and fruit, about to clean up and go to church for Morning Prayer, then resume reading and writing (maybe a little marking). Yesterday was swallowed with meetings and a protracted video-podcast interview, in which I suspect I spoke too incautiously on a number of topics, but there we are. It was a pleasant enough conversation, mostly about differential hermeneutics (about which any reader knows that I’ll talk indefinitely to anyone at any time). I’ll mention it when it’s released, if I’m not too embarrassed.

Alive, Two Miles at a Time

Somebody asked in an email, ‘What makes you feel alive?’ I’ve been writing an essay on drop-dead deadline, but the pressure hasn’t felt as vivid as has the excitement of putting thoughts together, and looking into what other people have thought on related topics. That makes me feel alive — the whizzing of nerve cells and synapses (I realise they don’t really make a whizzing sound, but in my imagination they do) as they pelt ideas around the vast vacant spaces my brain affords, bouncing off odd protrusions here or finding there a long, clear shot that even motivates my fingers to type out what’s gone on internally.

Oh, and I did run my two miles this morning, at a steady, grumbling pace. You’d think that after several years of this practice, my legs would treat it as no big deal, but you would be sadly wrong. Or at least, I’m sad that you’re wrong. My legs feel every bit as tired and resistant as they did two years ago. I will chalk this up to being old, will note that it’s a lot better than being dead (though not in the theological sense), and will move on to note that I enjoyed a hot breakfast, Morning Prayer, some grocery shopping, another cup of coffee, and more research and writing before heading off to a couple of church events and, this afternoon, a video-podcaster interview.

OK, Bearing Down

Ran my morning two miles (more than a mile before a couple of my relevant muscles, whose names I don’t know cos I’m not that kind of runner, loosened up), coffee and fruit, Morning Prayer, quick stop for groceries, second cup and then throwing myself headlong into writing. I pledge.

Dispassionate Monday

Ran my morning two miles with heavy legs, but not at a lugubrious pace. Coffee and fruit, I’ll go to Morning Prayer in a few minutes, and the rest of the day I’ll try to devote to marking, editing, and writing.

Passion Sunday

I ran my short route this morning cos it was raining (lightly but steadily); then coffee and Morning Prayer, fruit breakfast I’m changing my hot breakfast regiemn to Sunday and Wednesday, today was a transitional day), morning Mass for Passion Sunday, then the Annual District Committee Meeting for St Helen’s, and in a short while Evensong followed by a Taizé planning event (planning for Taizé worship, not a meeting conducted in meditative chants).

Saturday of Ninth

Very leisurely two miles this morning, running and walking and even stopping for half a mo, giving my muscles and joints a chance to relax. Then coffee and Morning Prayer in my study, hot breakfast, a morning catching up on this and that, and a little bit of work.

I have a vague plan to go to the church to take photos of the Women of the Bible window (the west end of the Our Lady aisle) for possible deployment on notecards in this 30th anniversary of the ordination of women in the UK year. While there, also to check out the Abingdon Artists exhibition in a more systematic way; I had been to look for Fr Paul’s contributions, but had ignored everything else.

Keeping Busy

Ran both of the last two mornings: Last morning, very heavy legs and a slow run, and this morning a good pace and limber legs. Coffee and fruit breakfast, shower, and Morning Prayer. Yesterday I came home and leaned into some academic business, t(hen a meeting about fund-raising at the church, then grocery shopping, then home. Today I went directly from MP to run some errands, most of which were balked — but I did take the opportunity to look in at mostly books and Abingdon’s Oxfam shop. Yesterday I spent hours working on a page of stamp-shaped images in an illustration app only to have it produce a tiny image that I couldn’t persuade it to resize to larger dimensions; then I tried it in my obsolete copy of Artboard (by MapDiva) (you can download v 2.4 here, but it’s strictly a take-your-chances, don’t-blame-me operation; OTOH I have found artboard to be the most intuitive vector graphics app Iz’ve used, which means of course it had to be shut down).

Wednesday Morning (of Ninth)

No rain, so I ran my two miles (musing about how I imagined, once upon a time, that it would get easier and easier), coffee and fruit, Morning Prayer, then will stay at church for midweek Eucharist, then home for the afternoon, probably.

‘Bro, Bro, Bro’

Yesterday I dismounted the X3 at St Aldate’s and hastened toward Oriel, where in a half hour I would meet a guest for lunch. As I turned the corner into Blue Boar, I heard someone shouting after me: ‘Bro, Bro, Bro, I need…’ to which I half-turned and waved and called, ‘Sorry, I’m on my way to meet someone.’
‘No, bro, bro, bro, bro, no, hang on, wait a minute…’
‘I’m on my way to meet a guest.’
‘Bro, bro, bro, I need one [unintelligible]…’
I turned and shrugged. ‘I need to keep going…’
‘No, but bro, I need one picture. One picture, bro!’
I was a bit perplexed, but it seemed an innocuous enough request. When he caught up with me and was lining up a selfie (before he imposed on a passing pedestrian to take the photo) I realised that he wanted a photo with himself and an academic priest with longish grey hair and a beard, who was wearing all black, with an overcoat, umbrella, and Homburg.

If you know this gentleman, tell him he’s welcome.

One Way

When I write about spirituality, I will have to stress that I’m talking about one way, not the only way, and not to the exclusion of other ways. I may have criticisms of other ways, but I will try not to deprecate ways that benefit other people. My point, at every turn, will be to articulate how things go for me and for others whom I know (in continuity with other Christian, and possibly non-Christian, sources).

I’ll pay some attention to backstage rationales as well. I mean, not just what I commend, but also why, and how my approach — not a specific regimen, not a programme as such — engages other aspects of life as we know it.

I’ve been holding back from saying anything on this topic for a long time, partly to avoid stepping on toes, partly because I don’t have spirituality ‘expertise’, partly because it hasn’t seemed likely that anyone cares what I think. But this is a blog — nobody cares about my daily run, either (well Dave’s paying attention, bless him, even if he does give me a case of Olympus lust) — so I might as well write about it here. There is, after all, a mathematical chance that someone might be interested.

But above all, to reiterate: I am not your judge. I am not the judge of your spirituality (even if I may find it unconvincing or problematic on my own terms), and I will be doing all that I can to avoid a rhetoric of ‘This is what I think, and this is why; and that’s why your practice is stupid’. If I say, This has proved beneficial to me, and you say (or even just feel) But that is what I like!, then just ignore me. I’m not that important.

One way. Not every way. Not necessarily ‘better than your way’ or ‘their way’. One way.

Two Things

One, I really must do something about FB and Twitter, and even BlueSky. My current plan involves taking an interval (initially a day or two, building to longer times) off, peering in, and taking another interval off as soon as practicable. Maybe one medium at a time, not lukewarm turkey on all of them at once. I have lots of precious connections with people via social media, but the distraction and related costs are just too great, and the cynicism of media-as-‘innocent provider’ too disingenuous. Wish me luck.

Two, I’m going to begin sketching some theological ideas here, ideas that I would categorise as ‘spirituality’ if spirituality were not supersaturated with woo and grift and anti-academicism. But the alternatives don’t quite get at what I’d be talking about; or worse still, they’d convey the ‘thgis isn’t spirituality, it’s a new and more authentic and right proper spiritual discourse’ hype flavour to them, and I’d hate that even more than being in the same category lump as the grifters and know-nothings. (Not you, I mean — you are without a doubt sincere and pious and concerned about historical and theological integrity.) I have some notions, and they’ve been spurring me to express them, and since I’m weaning myself from social media, here’s the place to do it.

So heads up — the blog may be more active, and more contemplative, than it‘s been for a while.