Happy New Year! Ovey!

I am very late with my New Year Greetings this year but  not 9 months late, just 9 days. I meant to put this post up on Sept 1st which always feels far more like New Year to me  than January 1st ever does. Not alot changes in January apart from a number. Whereas in September everyone ‘moves up’ and moves on, at least that’s the way it feels. You can tell I’ve been locked into an academic lifestyle for most of my life. Also September is THE best month of the year for all of us with a ‘stationary addiction’, the shops positively bulge with pens, notebooks, files and diaries. I’ve just bought my next one (it took two trips into town and much enjoyable dithering. I don’t know why people have filofaxes or digital diaries, where’s the fun in that?) In fact I actually bought two diaries but I promise to take the first one back, mind you today I’ve seen another one in a catalogue that looks really lovely….

This the first summer in pretty much my whole life that I have had to ‘work’ (as in ‘paid employment’) all the way through summer and it’s been really weird. September 1st marked the start of my second year of ‘vicar training’ and because I am not doing it full time at theological college, I have been at work in the parish all summer.  The up side of this change is taking holidays in term time (cheaper and quieter, yippee!) the downside is working when it feels like ‘everyone else’ is taking it easy. Everyone else under 18 that is.

So I have gleefullly rejoiced at the sight of school children clogging up the pavements in the mornings (not so happy about their parents clogging up the roads). At last, everything is getting back to normal, people are where they should be and getting on with ‘stuff’.

We are not quite at that happy point yet in our household. Matt returns from India on Saturday (he is all better now apparently) and is back at Uni a week later. A week after that we will go away on holiday, happy in the knowledge that all other family noses are appropriately pressed to grindstones! Hoo- RAH!

By the way, the swimming malarky/cure (see post ‘Just Keep Swimming’) has worked. I am most pleased to report that I have been sleeping much better since about 1 week into the swimming plan and am feeling much more mentally robust. Thank you for many kind thoughts either posted or prayed my way.  I still don’t actually LIKE swimming and have to drag myself off the sofa while every muscle in my body protests loudly about the dangers of exercise, the temperature of the water and chilly changing rooms. But it does work, those feel-good endorphins have finally kicked in.

So here’s to a happier new year!

p.s.  Have just found out that Sept 9th is Rosh Hashanah also known as Jewish New Year! So it seems my greetings are more timely than I’d realised. (I didn’t hear any rams horns being blown, I just heard in on Radio 2!) The Jews begin their new year with a 10 period of reflection and repentance, resolving to live better in the year ahead than in the year that’s been. They also eat alot of apples and honey – all of which seems very sensible to me. So ‘Shana Tova’ everyone.

Okay, finally at the risk of offending both Buddhists and Jews, this is very funny: a Jewish take on ‘new age nonsense’. I’ve italicised the Jewish voice for you

Jewish Buddhism
If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Be here now.
Be someplace else later.
Is that so complicated?

Drink tea and nourish life;
with the first sip, joy;
with the second sip, satisfaction;
with the third sip, peace;
with the fourth, a Danish.

Wherever you go, there you are.
Your luggage is another story.

Accept misfortune as a blessing.
Do not wish for perfect health,
or a life without problems.
What would you talk about?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Oy.

There is no escaping karma.
In a previous life,
you never called,
you never wrote,
you never visited.
And whose fault was that?

Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?

The Tao does not speak.
The Tao does not blame.
The Tao does not take sides.
The Tao has no expectations.
The Tao demands nothing of others.
The Tao is not Jewish.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

Let your mind be as a floating cloud.
Let your stillness be as a wooded glen.
And sit up straight.
You’ll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders.

Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers.
Each flower blossoms ten thousand times.
Each blossom has ten thousand petals.
You might want to see a specialist.

Be aware of your body.
Be aware of your perceptions.
Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.

submitted by Mark Miller to aish.com -don’t know if he wrote it but I enjoyed it.

Through the Bible in … Three Years!

Okay, Okay I know reading through the Bible in one year is the gold standard for mega super Christian keenies but I’m a slow reader.

Actually that’s not true. However, I have recognised the fact that in my private devotions I like to do more than simply read: I like to mull, underline, highlight, make notes. I also like  to pray, sit in silence, knit (meditatively of course!), I might even sing. So, as I don’t have all day (Bobby is waiting downstairs for his early morning walk) reading four or five chapters a day simply won’t fit. 

Plus it felt SO disheartening if you got behind. Miss a day and you had eight chapters to read in one sitting!

I have found a three year reading plan that is just one chapter a day for three years. Whoo hoo! One chapter feels so delightfully acheivable I have even started reading a commentary alongside, which is doubly beneficial:  not only do I understand more of what I’m reading, I no longer feel guilty about all those unread commentaries on my shelf. (Not that I actually own a seperate commentary for every book in the Bible but I know someone who does…)

A couple of other things have helped launch me on this journey:

  • now I’m older I realise that 3 years is not such  a very long time. It would have felt like an eternity in my twenties.  Now I am older, the penny has dropped that it would be  better to actually succeed in this task and take three years to do it, rather than regularly starting and predictably failing to acheive the one year gallop.
  • I have three significant years ahead of me. In one year’s time, I expect to be ordained deacon, the year after that ordained priest and then the year after that I shall complete my training and be deemed ready to be let loose on the wider Anglican communion. It would feel good to know at that point that  my personal journey had also been from cover to cover.
  • Having the role of a  trainee vicar can give rise to Biblical indigestion: at college every chapel service will have a Psalm, and Old Testament and  New Testament reading and even in parish I am reading or hearing or working on several passages each week. Trying to pack in another 4 chapters every day feels like over-load. Whereas I approach my one chapter a day as if it were a treat: ‘this one’s just for me’,  like a delicious cappucino with a cookie on the side!
  • Finally, but very significantly, I bought a yummy new Bible. Only people who share my stationary fetish will understand the use of the word yummy. (If you can’t pass a stationary shop in the ‘back to school’ season without craving lovely new pens or fresh notebooks, the chances are you share my passion: I am addicted to push up pencils with built in erasers, which is pretty tame as vices go) Anyway, back to my new Bible: it’s called The Notetakers Bible and it is a wide margin edition of the NRSV an edition put out by Oxford University Press in 2009. The lined margins (I would have preferred not lined but you can’t have everything) means there is lots of space for all my scribblings. The text comes in a single column, the pages are smooth and smell lovely and the whole tome is satisfyingly weighty and beautifully bound. I treated myself to the Deluxe edition which has a lovely tactile, fabric cover.

 I found the 3 year reading plan in a book called Good News Bible Book of Facts (compiled by Martin Manser) published 1998 by Marshall Pickering, first published in 1990 called The Amazing Book of Bible Facts, it’s a very useful and fun little book, goodness only knows if it’s still in print, try Amazon Marketplace?  You could just read one chapter a day and it would more or less work out at 3 years but the benefit of  this plan is that it takes you back and forth between Old and New Testament, helping cut down on the ‘laws and lists’ fatigue induced by certain sections of the Old Testament.