Thursday, 3 April 2008

Edinburgh Festival, red kites, recumbent cycling and everything home made

One of the things I really enjoy about my work is the interesting people I meet! Take Wednesday for example, when I met with a group of deacons in Northamptonshire to discuss the next stage in the life of the church. They are all retired, or nearly, and so we met in the morning at the house of an elderly woman, a life-deacon, who has recently been very poorly. I was fascinated to hear that she was born in the same house in the very room in which we were meeting – built by her father along with four others in the terrace - and has lived there all her life except when she was training to be a teacher. The house was intriguing with numerous books displaying a broad interest, a large collection of music on vinyl and CD, cross-stitch created by herself, prints of paintings including several by Renoir her favourite. Since she retired - a long time ago - she has been to the Edinburgh Festival every year where she has taken in between two to three performances a day and while I was there the prospectus for 2008 came through the letter box much to her delight. I confess to being especially taken with her because she told me what beautiful hands I have, 'the hands of a musician'!

Speaking to another of the deacons, his great interest is bird-watching – although he made it very clear that he isn't a 'twitcher' along with the reason behind this. He became both impassioned and poetic talking about the red kites at Fineshade Wood, near Rockingham Forest, where in 2007 there were over 80 pairs bred in the area, rearing over 100 young. He offered to give me a guided tour, something I'd love to take up.

The newly appointed secretary, a keen cyclist, introduced me to the world of recumbent cycling where you recline on a comfortable supportive seat instead of perched on a saddle. I've seen tricycles but apparently they come as bicycles as well, and I'm assured that they are more stable than the conventional variety, that vision is better, and that they put less stress on wrists and back and enable better peddling power especially up hill.

A light lunch of soup and bread, followed by Simnel Cake and ice-cream – all home-made (ministry is so tough) – was in the house of a couple who made this as well. They designed it and, with some help, constructed it, moving in last July. It is beautiful. And conversation over lunch was wide ranging but included something of their foreign travel which they do regularly but fairly inexpensively.

Incidentally, the meeting which was the purpose of my visit was productive and they found it helpful. But I reflected as I drove away how good it was to meet with such interesting and interested people, whose experience of God has enlarged and enriched their engagement with life, which is what it should do, 'life in all its fullness'.

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