Two reflections after a busy day yesterday. The first came at the end of a meeting to arrange catering for a church bash. We're expecting about a hundred people to descend on us next week for the institution of our new rector, and so here you had a gathering of what Barbara Pym might have described as "excellent women". I have to add that I hardly see myself in that role, but you end up doing strange things on this pilgrimage. There we were, discussing how many "pieces" were required per person - and no, this was not "pieces" in the Glasgow sense but rather items of finger food, not a jammy sandwich but a piece of quiche or whatever. We told each other how wonderful we were, we undertook to visit supermarkets over the water and to arrange for tablecloths. All very admirable, all aimed at smoothing the path and filling the bellies of fellow-Christians.
But then we reached the end of the business. The chat began. And that chat was as loud, as worldly and as bitchy as that heard at any other gathering of women who know each other moderately well. And I joined in as riotously as any. But afterwards I felt ..... disappointed? ashamed, even? If I knew the Bible better, I could make a reference to a bit where it tells us to be different as a result of our faith. So far all I manage to do is be more aware - which makes it worse, somehow.
My other reflection was less disturbing, and slid into my wakening brain as I trogged down the road to the pool this morning at 7.40am. I've been doing this pre-breakfast swim for a few weeks now, three mornings a week. It's no longer something particularly distinctive - just something I do. So it no longer serves as a marker on a specific day. What's the point of saying so? Simply this:
When you no longer go to work, you lose track of days. Apart from going to church on a Sunday, there are no set routines. Meetings migrate from Thursday to Friday as required. And best of all - I no longer dread the end of a holiday, or feel resentful that a weekend is over, or fret because I haven't been able to do what I wanted to in my free time. The best thing about this mode of living is the ability to do what I want to - and if that means doing nothing much, in the way I used to do when I was 15, say, so that a day simply passes ...then that's fine. There's always tomorrow.
There's one caveat, though. I need to be able to say "no" to some demands on my time, otherwise I won't have this freedom any more. I need to be as aware of the concept of "nothing time" as I was when I worked - or I'll never think again.
I think today may be a good day to start.