Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Frosted Garden

I had intended to post these pictures, of our garden (taken on 20/21 February 2008), on Mal's Murmurings but, unfortunately, Windows Live would not permit me to sign in - their loss I suppose!

Bruised Without Bruising

This morning, the winds bluster challenges my lungs; it hits my face and takes the breath away. A plenitude of airiness leaves me gasping for air. My body was already feeling buffeted but, this was not of the winds making.

Strange the way that these elemental forces reflect back on me; my feeling leadenly bruised in limbs and torso, it’s impossible not to identify with the howling wind, a desire to wield rather than yield.

I watch the trees flex and strain, as if to minimize the effects of resistance. If only I could take my cue from them. Unfortunately, neither my physique nor will is quite that supple.

I seem to be suffering from the belated aftermath of last weeks endeavours. Transported by an adrenalin rush, I felt a temporary invincibility; reason (or perhaps vanity) told me I could manage a few more little tasks, having decorated the bathroom. After all, the tasks were of extremely modest proportion, but my body still pays the price in terms of a leaden, numb, aching exhaustion.

Psychologically I feel good, a modest overcoming, but physically quite drained.


This post would have appeared on 'Mal's Murmurings' had I been able to sign in on Windows Live

Sunday, February 24, 2008


So much time is spent waiting, even when we’re too busy to recognize it, yet no-one seems to think it worthwhile to educate us in the use of this time. We send a message to someone and wait, in anticipation or even trepidation, for a reply. We have a job to do but, invariably, there is some preparation required before we are able to get down to the task in hand. Frequently however, these moments are spent hyping ourselves up in readiness rather than using it as a time for taking stock; we have to be busy. Perhaps we are afraid that we might not like what we see or feel if we take time out for ourselves.

A time of waiting must never be confused with idleness. Waiting is always active. Once in a while it could prove useful if we took the time to consider what we’re doing, what implication it has for others, is it really what I should be doing? Rather than dashing out to do God’s will, listening and waiting is required to grasp what that purpose may be. It is never necessary to do just for the sake of doing, what is more important is doing what should be done, what needs to be done.

As Christians we are called to be doers of the Word but, how can we be doers if we never take time to consider the implications of that word for ourselves and others. For me, Jesus is the Word made Flesh, yet he spent 90% of his life waiting to discover what his mission was. Even during his ministry, he had recourse to times of solitude, a time for reflection and restoration. These quiet times are as much of an activity as the practise/action that springs from them; during the time of the temptations, the lure of wealth and the accepted routes to power, he was called on to make a decision and, his decision was not to accept the frequently tried, and always found wanting, methods of leadership.

The times of reflection, of waiting, were essential for him to formulate the ideas upon which he would act and, the results he came up with are of far more enduring value than if he had unthinkingly accepted the normal pattern.


What prompted these random reflections was a sense of frustration I was experiencing, waiting for one coat of paint to dry, before I could get on with the final coat. For all my familiar lack of energy, an impatience to get on with the task in hand made it impossible to settle down to any other ‘activity’.

The thought suddenly occurred that I could use this time to take stock, sparked by the realization that my health-imposed idleness was of a distinctly different character to this period of waiting.

For all my recent inactivity, I am instinctively a ‘doer’ and, this conflict causes so much dis-ease. Perhaps some of the vast tracts of idleness could be transformed into periods of active waiting, a time to discover just what and how much I may have to contribute, (without exerting too much pressure on my limited resources of physical stamina).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Few Surprises Here

Prompted by my friend Graham's retaking of this test, thought it maybe time to MOT my own position once again!

What's your theological worldview?
created with
You scored as Emergent/Postmodern

You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Neo orthodox


Modern Liberal


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic




Reformed Evangelical




Mal Exerts and Celebrates

A new post, Of Exertion and Celebration, can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

you don't know how restless I made me

The day starts well, the curry I prepared last evening, and the specially prepared rice, is well up to standard. Mid-afternoon we venture out for a stroll around the block on a beautiful bright crisp day. Early evening, whilst setting up a couple of TV programmes to record I start having problems with the electronic programme guide and, rather than taking it in my stride, I start to become very tetchy. Suddenly, I’m feeling totally ill at ease with the world; an intense sense of frustration grabs me by the throat.

A total restlessness takes over and, to add to the troubles, the problems I was having with the aquarium lighting system (see second paragraph of ‘Stepping Out’, on Mal’s Murmurings) have intensified. Not only are the lights displaying a temperamental spasmodic dimming but, occasionally going out altogether. I’ve checked the fuses, even switched sockets but the same problems recur. Usually this would be a minor irritation; this evening the effect of this technical glitch seems almost traumatizing. I pace around, go out to the stable door to grab a nicotine fix, return briefly to the living room before stepping out again for a further fix, totally fazed by these inconsequential incidents.

Yesterday, we visited the DIY store to obtain some paint; about time I decorated the new ceiling, and the untiled areas of the wall, in the bathroom which have been crying out for attention for well over a year. A similar task remains in the kitchen; in this case four years on from the new damp course being installed four years ago. As Helen has the week off work, we felt it would be a good time to tackle these little decorating tasks. The fact that they’ve been neglected for so long reiterates to me just how lacking in stamina I’ve been for far too long. If only it was possible to forget that there was a time when I had energy, and an active lifestyle to go with it, perhaps my current frustration wouldn’t be so intense.

Merged Image

Image Hosted by

The above image is a digitally modified merging of two of my watercolours.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Springs Spring

Four in a row of crisp, bright, sun-kissed days, makes for a little miracle in how I feel. Although I did not arouse myself, from fitful slumbers, until the morning was well under way, by 10.30am, a fair covering mantle of frost still lay on the lawn.

The garden is a hive of avian activity, blackbirds, house sparrows and starlings are all to be seen in abundance. Our resident robin puts in an appearance too, whilst a trio of blue tits visit the feeders. A dunnock joins the blackbirds at the ground feeder but, the blackbirds today seem torn between a need for food and flirtatious play. Spring is truly on its way.

At the top end of the garden, blackbirds wade and wallow in the dead leaf strewn waterlogged plastic sledge, more utilized in its desuetude than ever in its glory days of sledging purpose. The patio pond is covered in a thin ice crust but, barely a patch of ice touches the garden pond. Repeated frost-filled nights give me little hope for the frogspawn’s survival. Mind you, when a spawn is successful in the main pond, the goldfish never seem to tire of the fast food it supplies.

After a slow lumbering emergence into the day, I soon feel revitalized as I watch all this activity in the garden. My usual muscular niggles are hardly in evidence, it’s great to feel really alive. After lunch, I step out for a little stroll. Today, the walking stick serves more as a propulsion aid, rather than its customary supporting role, as I take a brisk walk around the block. The course I take is completed in twenty minutes, on a route which more usually takes me thirty.

Rather than wait for any anticipated backlash, I’ve told myself that I’ll free my mind of that possibility. Problem is, on a psychological level, it may be healthier to be prepared for any post-exercise malaise, rather than be caught by it unawares. Denial by positivity may not be the best approach. On second thoughts, I’ll just settle stoically for whatever befalls.

One swallow may not make a summer but, today, I do have a new spring in my step.

Without Comment!

“All but a handful of conservative evangelicals - the sort who have been calling him a heretic and demanding his resignation ever since he was appointed five years ago - greeted his arrival with prolonged and sympathetic applause. Whether it was a standing ovation is a moot point since the synod customarily rises to its feet on his arrival anyway.

One of the unnoticed ironies of the row is that the archbishop has been most vociferously criticised by precisely those within his flock who normally demand the harshest punishment against those with whom they disagree.” [my emphasis]

Williams, sharia and a mea culpa ... of sorts

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Light through a shattered screen

Our experience of the world is always screened through our own subjectivity. This being the case, the past few days found a minimal expectation of enjoyment from these quarters. So, I should be miserable … right? I have been surprised at how satisfying I’m finding life today, despite my low reserves of physical and emotional stamina.

Last evening, my overall mood was being pinned down under a barrage of frustration and, I found myself on the verge of succumbing to despair. There’s no particular incident that can be pinpointed as causing this ‘low’, just an overwhelming sense of falling victim to my own lack of energy, low concentration, the sense of interminable exhaustion. The perpetual nagging aches, which I thought I’d learned to accept, seemed to impose themselves like a cloud in front of anything I hoped to enjoy. Surf the net, and surf again; nothing held my interest. Truth be told, successive days of drowse-laden discomfort tempted me into the realms of self-pity. That way one starts to feed on themselves, so there are even less reserves of energy to draw upon.

When it comes to energy, there’s one thing of which I’m certain; it’s a force that I’m more able to recognize by its absence. Today, by the grace of the gods, I’ve recovered from the despondency, despite starting off in a totally shattered state. By the time I’d emerged from the duvet-realm, my beloved had already been out to a coffee morning at the local chapel and, this dressing gowned zombie managed to greet her on her return. At this point, I was able to help her with finalizing the preparations for the children’s address at the service she’ll be taking tomorrow. This modest polishing of my halo boosted my lazy limbs as I headed towards the shower; my beloved provided the necessary supervisory attention, for me to undergo this experience.

Refreshed by this, I was able to contemplate a little journey with ma belle chauffeuse to the garden centre at Otley, where we were able to replenish our stocks of wild bird feed etc. Helen managed to find some bags of polished pebbles, for use in the service tomorrow, before we visited the pet shop/aquaria section. We were totally captivated by a selection of Hermann’s Tortoises, tiny creatures a mere three to four months old, in a vivarium just inside the door. We enquired about their care requirements, and estimated the price for a properly equipped vivarium, in which they would spend substantial amounts of their time until they were 5 years old. The problem was going to be whether we had sufficient space to house them and, unfortunately, the answer seems to be in the negative as it would entail us having to move out our large aquarium, or the TV and video. I was quite fancying having my toes nipped, as we let them out for a bit of free range roaming in the sitting room.

Anyway, the time spent observing them, and sundry reptiles, served to brighten my outlook on life. It’s nice to find positivity restored, even though my spectacles have lenses that are cloudy and shattered, rather than rose-tinted. Life can be truly wonderful, warts and all, and I rejoice in this day the Lord has made.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Truly Alive

Retire to the duvet realm shortly after 10.00pm, re-emerge shortly after 9.00am, a remarkably early hour for yours truly. Dressing gown bedecked, switch on the PC for a little idle surfing, feeling rather washed out and jaded. Somehow the time just scurries by, surprising in an era of idleness. Contemplate taking a shower but, uncertain as to whether I can cope with the effort, return to the desktop and continue to get nowhere slowly. By this time a serious debate with oneself occurs, the topic is the pros and cons of showering.

By 11.30am, I succumb to the lure of the shower. Sheer luxury as I sit in the shower; I rub my face almost gleefully, watch the water flow over my weary limbs, the warmth seems to alleviate the pesky muscular aches and pains with which I share my daily journeying. This is bliss, it almost feels like something I should feel guilty about; it takes quite some time before I even contemplate the washing process, it’s almost as if in these moments time has stood still and I’ve entered some kind of sublime ecstatic state. I start to count my breaths, a kind of reassurance that it’s not quite simply a dream; all is calmness!

There once was a time, which I find hard to believe, when showering was a straightforward mundane routine, neither pain or pleasure. Next, there was a period when I could only take a shower when my beloved was there to support me, an omnipresent giddiness / light-headedness made the shower a most insecure place for me. Things became somewhat easier once my beloved obtained a shower seat; once that was in situ, the task became far less troublesome, although for long enough it still proved a chore. I still found that by the time I emerged from the soaking, and towelled myself dry, a half-hours rest (minimum) was required before I could consider getting dressed.

Anyway, that’s the past and this is now. I’m still basking in the afterglow of that serious pampering, provided by the shower unit. The muscular and joint pains are returning but, I am still able to revel in observing the sun blessed blue skies. Today I am truly alive.

Monday, February 04, 2008

New on 'Mal's Factory'

TWO NEW POEMS (First Drafts), or they may even be jottings towards a single poem, can be found on 'Mal's Factory'.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A True Thanksgiving

Sometimes a very basic foodstuff can seem extra exciting; in this instance I’m referring to a simple baked potato, served with stew and a few garden peas, as the main course at a community meal at the local Methodist chapel last evening. I really must find out who supplied the potatoes, and what variety they were; the nicest baked potato I’ve tasted in several years.

This particular chapel no longer serves as a place of worship, having been closed in the course of circuit re-organization, but its former congregation, who were forced to disperse to other churches in the broader vicinity, still meet together for coffee mornings and the occasional communal meal. There is a very strong sense of fellowship at these gatherings and, any proceeds raised from the events, less expenses, go to a worthwhile cause either locally or abroad. Although it was not the church that I attended, the warmth of welcome received was a real treat.

Much as I appreciated the symbols of the communion service, in times when I was more able to regularly attend worship, I couldn’t help but feel that this was a true eucharist.


A later posting for today, A QUESTION OF IMBALANCE, can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'