Saturday, 31 January 2015

A white World and a wonderful sister

The wonderful sister who helped me with my talk was so convincing on the platform on Thursday night that she made it seem rather a good one!  So it went well - and I was told I was very relaxed on the platform...

If you could see the way I used to be, you would know that Jehovah has already worked a miracle with me, although there is an awful lot of work still to do (just to save Captain Butterfly having to hack into my blog and leave a comment pointing that out).

The Captain was out early yesterday morning, getting some pictures at the Arundel Reserve which has been opening specially early this week.  I was off early too, shopping at Waitrose.  We went for a walk along the beach this afternoon and met Ken and Jean trundling along, which was nice.  We watched the second part of "Wolf Hall" last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.   It shows too the awful way in which church and state work together, and underlines the wisdom of the Christian Greek Scriptures, which tell us to be "no part" of the world - to stay out of its divisive politics and cruel wars.

Bea and I are in regular communication about the snow situation - snowing 'oop North, blue skies and sunshine down here.

However, we have woken up to a white world this morning!  Not snowing now, but is there more on the way?

It all looks wonderful. And every single snowflake is a miracle of artistry and engineering, telling of its Grand Creator, Jehovah of armies.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

My Talk

I have a talk in the School tonight, from the platform.  It is a difficult subject... I practised it with my helper, who has very serious health issues of her own.    Will be glad when its done and dusted.

Here it is, and, hopefully, as delivered in the School, it will have a lot more conversational quality than it appears to have on the page.  Bear in mind, we only have 5 minutes.  And its not a subject I often find myself conversing about anyway!

AMNON - Theme: Selfish erotic love is ruinous.
it - 1 p.96
Study 28 : Conversational quality

Setting:   Encouraging a Bible student to bring her teenage daughter to the meetings.

Sue.  Hello, how lovely to see you at the Sunday meeting.  Did you enjoy it?

Helper. I did, yes. I hope to come next Sunday.  I would love to try and get my daughter to come along, and I was wondering if you have any meetings just for teenagers.  I know she would have been bored if she had come today.

Sue. Yes, I can see why you say that. There is so much dazzling entertainment in the world now that just sitting being taught about the Bible could seem boring. But no, we don't have any special or separate meetings for different age groups, we are all taught together.

H.  That makes me feel a bit depressed - how do I get through to her?

Sue.  If it was up to you or me, it would be almost impossible.  But never under-estimate the power of Jehovah's word to reach the heart. And she might be surprised at how relevant the Bible is to current concerns.    For example, at our Thursday meeting we are going to be discussing the Biblical character of Amnon. And the theme of our discussion is:  "Selfish erotic love is ruinous".    I don't think she would find that a boring subject!

H.  No, she wouldn't, but what she might feel is that the Bible is all about stopping us from doing what we want.

Sue.  In one sense she would be right, in that it is trying to protect us from doing what our selfish imperfect natures want - and damaging both ourselves and others.   And the tragic story of Amnon and his sister is a good example of why we need that protection.    It starts very simply, at 2 Samuel 13, like this:  "Now David’s son Abʹsa·lom had a beautiful sister named Taʹmar, and David’s son Amʹnon fell in love with her."
Tamar was Amnon's half sister and the love he should have had for her was a brotherly fraternal love, an unselfish love.  However, what he felt for her was erotic love, a passionate sexual desire. And he nurtured this wrong desire, with terrible consequences.

H. So what happened?

Sue.  He talks to a cousin called Jehonadab, who gives him this advice.  Its here at verse 5 in the same chapter.  Would you read it, and tell me if you think this is good advice.

H. Reads 2 Samuel 13:5. "Je·honʹa·dab replied to him: “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick. When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please, let my sister Taʹmar come and serve me some food. If she prepares the food given to the sick before my eyes, I will eat it from her hand.’”
That is very bad advice, I think, as the last thing he should do is try to be alone with his sister in the bedroom! if he has those feelings.

Sue. Yes, it was the worst advice. And, sadly, Amnon took it.  And his poor unsuspecting sister, who clearly loved her brother unselfishly went to help when she thought he was sick and - well lets read what happens next:  "When she brought them for him to eat, he grabbed her and said: “Come, lie down with me, my sister.”  But she said to him: “No, my brother! Do not humiliate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel. Do not do this disgraceful thing.... But he refused to listen to her, and he overpowered her and humiliated her by raping her." (verses 11-14)

H.  He must have felt very sorry and guilty afterwards.

Sue. He certainly knew he had done wrong, but the account suggests that he blamed Tamar, rather than himself, because it goes on to say (reads verse 15): "Then Amʹnon began hating her with a very intense hatred, so that his hatred for her became greater than the love he had felt for her."
So his sister suffered greatly because of his selfish desire for her.  And it clearly didn't make him happy either.

H. But what about him? Did he get away with it? 

Sue.   Well Tamar had a full brother Absalom. And you can imagine how angry he felt about what Amnon had done, he hated him for it.  If you read on in that chapter, you will see that, two years later at a festival, Absalom had Amnon killed.   So his selfish desire led to tragedy - for him, and for those around him.   And, as we all live in a world that tries to persuade us that if it feels good we should do it, can't we all learn from this whatever age we are?

H. Yes, its something my daughter does need to hear.  I will try to persuade her to come with me next time.

Kathy and I did some route calls on Tuesday - hers and mine. We didn't find many at home, but it was a good morning, and she came back to the flat for tea and biscuits.  And The Captain is planning lots of trips and outings for us.

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Weekend

Sanderlings, Calidris alba
I am trying to cast my mind back - all of a day -to think what I did over the weekend.  Began to climb the mountain of Butterfly paperwork - am on the way down now, as apart from an irritating query I am following up, its just a question of posting all the membership packages.   My shoulder is hurting again, even though I am trying to stick to my timer and 30 minute increments.

Jackie and Linda came round for a curry evening on Friday - I was out on the field service with Sarah and a very young brother on Saturday morning. He held the tracts for us, which was a great help on the doors, as me trying to juggle Bible, magazines and tracts can be a bit like getting a visit from Mr.Bean.

It was a sunny day - the sky an amazing clear blue - but with a cold wind to remind us it was midWinter.

It was the meeting at the Hall yesterday - Maggie was not very well, coughing all the time.  Kathy and I arranged to work together tomorrow morning. I would like to take her on my magazine route calls, hoping some of them will be at home.

Col has been out getting some wonderful bird photos.  The Sanderlings remind me of a line in a Donna Williams poem, about hens with their "stickletti legs".

Friday, 23 January 2015

Sir Chris Bonington at Worthing

As I am an experienced and enthusiastic armchair climber (I've lost count of the number of times me and my sofa have been up Everest), Captain Butterfly kindly took me to Worthing on Tuesday night to see Sir Chris.  Now 80 years old (and still climbing!), he is on tour talking about his mountaineering life - with slides and some videos.

He mentioned the moment that Joe Tasker and Peter Boardman disappeared from view behind one of the Pinnacles on the N.E.ridge of Everest - at that time it was the unclimbed route - and were never seen again. Though this happened in 1982, you could see it was still a very distressing memory for him.

Sir Chris, and Charles Clarke, tell the story very well in "Everest, the Unclimbed Ridge".

Pete Boardman's body was found 10 years later, lying peacefully in the snow, where it lies to this day. Hardly anyone ever goes up there - not by that route!  And no sign has been found of Joe Tasker.

So many of the young men Sir Chris climbed with died on the mountains. Which is one reason why I won't be more than an armchair climber - life is too precious.   Plus of course, age, arthritis and general wimpiness.   If you must climb, a calm temperament is best.  Apparently panic can accelerate the deadly process of frostbite.

Sir Chris almost broke down when talking about the recent death of his wife Wendy.  They had a long and happy marriage.

He confirmed something I had thought when I read about climbers and climbing - that being on the mountains is freedom.   Since our first parents cut themselves off from their Creator, we, their damaged children, have found ourselves enmeshed in a sticky web of pains, stresses, troubles, endless laws, endless paperwork.   They had only one law - not to to eat the fruit of one tree in the Garden. Their bodies and minds were perfect - naturally set on doing the right and loving thing.  No other laws were needed.  They lived in Paradise.

And it seems that, when climbing, all the stress and clutter falls away, all is narrowed down and focused on the one thing.  (Sir Chris put that a lot better I have.)  And I think I can understand.  And sympathise.  However, the way to get real freedom and meaning back into our lives is to follow the way of the Christ.  It truly is.  It can make us so happy, even now, stuck in our dying bodies, failing minds, and living in a world ruled by Satan, tangled up in stressful things.

And we probably can only begin to imagine how happy we will be in the restored earthly Paradise. Our lives will be full of meaning. We will wake up in the morning, full of energy and joy, looking forward to everything we have to do that day.

Talking of mountaineering and stressful things - a mountain of butterfly paperwork has landed on me - I can feel the panic and the frostbite setting in.   No time to do it yesterday - I did some more route calls (and Christine gave me a box of chocolates!) - shopped - cooked the lamb curry - studied - went to physio (and was signed off) - made the Captains's tea (omelette and oven chips) and went to the Meeting.

Maggie is back.  Hurray!.  We always sit together, but she was struck down with this awful fluey thing that is doing the rounds.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Africa - with Mike Mockler

The Captain, Terry and me went to the "A Hundred Not Out" talk at Arundel last night by Mike Mockler, plus wonderful slides of his 100 plus tours of Africa, most of them as a guide.

Highlights: so many, but here are a few:

The caring Meerkat.   Mike is lying on the sand in the middle of the meerkat clan, and his wife is filming.   The sentry sees an eagle high up and gives her chirring warning cry. All the meerkats look up, warned, alert, in case it is going to come any nearer.  Mike of course is watching them watching the eagle.  His wife points out that the Meerkat sentry is trying to warn him too!  She keeps looking at him and chirring at him.  Mike's wife says that she wants him to look up so she knows he is aware of the danger.  He does look up, very ostentatiously, and the sentry stops warning him and goes back on general alert.

So he wasn't carried off to the eagle's lair. But only because of a very caring meerkat- who must think that us humans are very slow to get the point, and take a lot of looking after.

Then there was the elephant that suddenly appeared out of the rainforest by the car.  It is so big it dwarfs the trees it is charging through - like the enormous head of the Cheshire Cat that suddenly appear to Alice.   It charges.  They can't get away, it is too sudden.  But it stops itself, and goes away without hurting anyone.   If only we were as kind to them.

Then there is the horrendous story of the vanishing rhinos, whose horns are now worth more than gold.   They, with their innocent Moomintroll faces, are now on the verge of extinction.

When the Book of Revelation was written, I suppose the idea that we could ruin a whole planet would have seemed ridiculous.  But since 1914, when the events of Revelation began, nothing has become more clear.   But as Revelation promises, Jehovah "will bring to ruin those ruining the earth".

How else are the meek going to inhabit it?  And what hope would the beautiful and innocent rhino have?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Murmurations

Yesterday we watched the starling flocks, several of them, wheeling and turning in the evening sky at Arundel and diving in into the rushes.  Quite a few of the ponds there had ice, and we are supposed to be in for a cold night.

Jean and I were on the doors in the morning - doing route calls.  So at last I have got my magazine route for January started. Two lovely magazines we are offering - one about a government that will be free from corruption, which is of course the incoming Kingdom of God, the government we pray for when we say the Lord's prayer; and the other about how the creation reveals Jehovah's glory.  It tells us clearly of its Grand Creator.

On Thursday we went to West Wittering beach, with a side trip to Itchenor Harbour..  It was a lovely day. The weather is so strange - blue skies full of spring like clouds at one moment, and then, suddenly ominous rain clouds. If it were colder, we would have had a lot of snow down here.  Many fields are flooded.  I don't know what today will bring as it still dark, but there is a box of sandwiches and cake in the fridge for the Captain, in case its photography weather.

Friday, 16 January 2015

A Hospital Day

Well, once again let me assure anyone who is worried about being bored in their retirement that they won't have time to be. The problem will be lack of time  - trying to fit in all the things they want to do around their medical appointments.

Physio for me in the morning - for my shoulder and back pain. Shoulder has been so bad I haven't been able to sleep some nights, and back pain so bad after an hour on the doors that I can't continue. And I used to be a great walker.

Young physio very good - lots of exercises to do - and I see her next week.  As I tottered out of the Clinic, I bumped into Ken and Jean tottering in!

Then it was an afternoon at the hospital for the Captain's scan. I am very worried now.

But we are pretty much in the death zone. As children of disobedient Adam, for the moment "death reigns as king over us". And its scary.

But a lovely lovely meeting at the Kingdom Hall last night. The perfect antidote.  We were discussing Jehovah's wisdom, as set out in his Inspired Word.  And the more we learn from it and try to act on it, the more we realise how beneficial it is, and the closer we draw to Him.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Weather - and a Poem

Yesterday morning was stormy, with pelting rain, so I didn't even bother to get ready to go out, and was on the internet talking to an American friend who is housebound, when I realised it was actually clearing up and so I should be out on the field service.  I hurtled about (in a slow sort of way) and managed to get the Hall albeit a bit late.

Benedicta and I worked for an hour and finished our road. We had a couple of very interesting conversations, and one lady said we can call back at the weekend!  So we were both glad we got out.

The afternoon was taken up with making a big casserole from the lamb we ordered from Abel & Cole. It was good - and we will order it again. Maybe Jacks will get a lamb curry the  next time she comes for supper.  Though I feel worse and worse about eating meat...

Very odd weather - cold/sunshine/snow/hail/rain.  It does need to get cold and stay cold though, or the birds and the bees are going to get confused.   Apparently a brood of ducklings has already been seen locally.

I have been re-reading Jean Rhys' "Quartet". She is a wonderful writer - wonderful - but a bit of a Moaning Minnie.  And I remembered, in my poetry writing days, being surprised to realise that, as Jean was coming to the end of her life, down in Cornwall, I was just beginning mine - and those very early holidays in my Granny's house in Cornwall were magical times.

So I wrote:

(Can't think of a title)

I can’t believe Jean 
That you and I
Were in Cornwall together
You write of freezing March weather
I can remember only sun.

To be fair, we would not have been there in March. And the end of life is difficult. We were not meant to go through all this, to wither and die in a few short decades, and even though I am full of hope, I too am something of a Moaning Minnie about it sometimes (without the brilliant writing to compensate).

Monday, 12 January 2015

Harold Skimpole

Is Harold Skimpole one of Dicken's nastiest characters?   We spent Saturday and Sunday nights watching episodes from Nute's boxed set of "Bleak House" - the BBC adaptation with Gillian Anderson as a brilliant and beautiful lady Dedlock.  It is the Beeb at its best.  Wonderfully cast, wonderfully acted, wonderfully scripted, and of course (thank you Charles Dickens) wonderfully written.

Charles Dance as Tulkinghorne!   And I hope the actor who played Guppy - Burn Gorman - has gone on to great things.    We met Mr.Woodcourt's illustrious ancestor last night, Morgan Ap Kerrig.  They can't put everything in of course, but I am glad they kept Mr. Ap Kerrig in.  We haven't seen much of Mrs Jellyby, but I suppose she is almost a book to herself. Sometimes when I re-read it, I just go through picking out the Skimpole and Jellyby bits.

And the ending is perfect.  Spot-on for today too, sadly.

Col has been out a'rescuing.  I don't know if you read the sad story of the two young lads who drowned off the beach at Brighton?   One waded in to save the other,who was being swept away. SUSSAR was called out to search for bodies. They had no chance in that sea, at night.  It was fierce.

Both bodies were found.   I hope - I am sure - that Jehovah remembers them, and that they are sleeping safe in "the everlasting arms", with a wonderful awakening ahead of them when the earth has been restored to Paradise.  

But I can't imagine what their families are now going through.

Our meeting at the Kingdom Hall yesterday helped us to hold on, to keep walking "the narrow road" the will lead us safely to the earthly Paradise, and we were reminded always always to hold fast to Jehovah's word - to try to be holy in all our conduct (insofar as is possible for our imperfect selves) and to keep following in Jesus' footsteps.

I did manage to get out on the preaching work - to tell people of the perfect rescue that is in hand - but only for half an hour.  I hope to do a lot better this week.  Tammy and I were rained off.

Friday, 9 January 2015

The New Year

The New Year took me by surprise, turning up on the 1st of January like that.   I realised that I hadn't ordered a new diary - or a new "Examining the Scriptures Daily" (though I can read that online). The Captain galloped to my rescue and ordered me a Van Gogh Diary for 2015, which has now arrived.

But 2015!   Someone is shortening these millenniums...

We went for a walk along the beach on Wednesday afternoon. It was cold, with waves - and the river was high. We watched river and sea struggling together by the Pier.  I got email, letter and card posted to Jen, Kathryn and Bea.

And last night I reunited with my congregation family.  And hope to be back in the field service, starting tomorrow.

Encouraging point from last night. We are learning a new song - to celebrate the incoming Kingdom of God - and the Speaker started by playing us two songs.  One was from the Songthrush, the other from the Carrion Crow.   He pointed out that Jehovah made both those voices and loves to hear them sing - so please can we all sing out, even those of us who are at the Crow end of the spectrum (such as myself). And when discussing it, another brother pointed out that when all the birds blend their voices in the dawn chorus, it is wonderful. As indeed it is.   The early dawn is one of those times that it is so easy to see the holiness of the world.

I started a new short story while I was away, as Nute, Pen and I had a writing day together. They both have excellent thrillers in the pipeline (both being published authors) and my young publisher is apparently considering publishing my long short story as a novella.   If and when he does, my blog will hear about it!

My hero and heroine have arrived at a holiday cottage in the remote Northumbrian countryside in late September.., but what is going to happen next hasn't come to me yet.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Conscience and Conflict

We went to "Conscience and Conflict" at the Pallant today. Its an exhibition of paintings about the Spanish Civil War. I found it very depressing - all this urging us on to kill each other - and went and sat in the lobby till Col had finished.   While there I fell in love with two of the regular paintings that I have often seen before.

One is Kitaj's "The Architects" - I love his colour palette, and the way he re-creates the house and family.  The other is "Two Nudes" by Peter de Francia.   It is of two beautiful Caribbean ladies bathing.  One has a wistful Modigliani face.

Of course it obeys the rather tiresome rule that, as soon as an artist walks past us, us ladies start to take a bath, or fall out of the top of our frocks.   Oddly, we seem to learn not to when we get past thirty or so. But these two ladies are young.

Both paintings are full of life though - and filled me with hope.  They praise the beauty of the world, of the creation.  And speak of how interesting it all is.

The washing is all done - though there still some ironing left.   And we are slowly starting to get back into our home routines.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Dessiccator

Nute has got a little obsessive since she got the DeHumifidier.  It whirrs away all the time, and she can no longer tolerate a drop of moisture in the house.  So I am a bit worried about our next visit.   Will we walk up the garden path, which will be strangely overgrown, and strewn with dry leaves though it is high Summer?   And will the front door creak open to reveal Nute, Ken, Ollie and Scooter lying on the carpet like crumbling Autumn leaves?

Even so, Captain Butterfly is thinking of getting us one (a Dessiccator, not an Autumn leaf) - especially as I am going to be spending the next couple of day doing loads of washing, and drying it in the flat.

We had a good journey down - though it was foggy most of the way, and the fields were white with frost. We came via the Derby branch, and admired their new kitchen extension, which gives them a splendid view over the River Derwent.   We stopped for our usual sandwiches and flask of tea en route.

The lunch at Brocco-on-the Park on Friday was splendid, and we plan to go again.  And we saw Bea and family yesterday, and were treated to another lovely lunch - lemon sole, with peas, and potatoes cooked with cobb nut oil, followed by apple pie.  Young Anna came over to see us before disappearing with her friends, which was very sweet of her, and Simon and Phyllis came over after lunch.

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Egg Box

We went to two lovely exhibitions in Sheffield - one at the Graves, and one at the Millennium Gallery.    I was thrilled to find a painting of my aged father's eggbox building by Jonathan Wilkinson.  And I loved seeing some of the old favourites along with the new at the Stanley Royle.

I have bought a couple of postcards of "Morning on the Derbyshire Moors" - remembered from childhood visits - to send to Lilian and Aunt Jo.  I hope to post them today when we shop.

I have only now found out it is a portrait of the artists wife  She looks so lovely, so young, slim and beautiful in her blue dress and bonnet, against a background of desolate and beautiful moorland.

Mind you, if Captain B ever decides to paint me, I will look young, slim and beautiful too.. or else.

We are planning to take Nute and Ken to lunch at Brocco-on-the-Park today, and go over the Snake to Bea tomorrow.