Did the Sun stand still that you might have perpetual day, you would not know the sweetness of repose: the delightful vicissitudes of night and day, the early sweetness and spring of the morning, the perfume and beauty in the cool of the evening, would all be swallowed up in meridian splendour: all which now entertain you with delights.
The antipodes would be empty, perpetual darkness and horror there, and the Works of God on the other side of the world in vain.
Traherne anticipates Pope Francis in this reflection, or should I say he brings to mind Saint Francis and his Canticle of Creation. Difficult, now, to say whether he knew that text, but he invites us to join all creatures of our God and King and sing his praises. Take time to absorb his way of speaking and let the light sink in.
In Saint Mildred’s churchyard, across from the L’Arche garden, there is a solitary standard rose; it was looking quite shabby with suckers at the base and lots of blackspot on the leaves. Beside it is a plaque telling that it was planted in memory of Elizabeth, who was married in this church in 1948, emigrated, and died in Australia.
One day this spring I could bear it no longer and pruned the flowering stems hard, removed the suckers and sprayed for blackspot.
The rose has had its winter pruning, but there have been two flushes of flowers and a late third. I was pleased about that. But one Friday I heard more of its story. Elizabeth’s husband Albert had paid for the rose from Australia. When he came back to visit Canterbury after her death, he met one of the ladies who now run the coffee mornings where L’Arche are regular customers, including Abel when he’s around.
She knew the returning native straight away. ‘I said, “You’re Albert that went to Australia.”‘ His wife had the most beautiful golden hair, she reminded him, not auburn but pure gold. ‘Well, after that he kept in touch though now he’s 91. He was only on the phone yesterday, asking, “How’s Elizabeth’s rose?” Now I can tell him. Thank you for taking it on. ‘
So there we are. You don’t know what ripples may come from a random act of something like kindness; and often enough you may never know. But it was worth pruning the rose for its own sake. Laudato si!
Apologies! This post has ended up out of sequence because a posting came our way that was topical for the day it was first scheduled. So don’t boggle when this post (VI) is followed tomorrow by IX. And we hope you enjoy both posts.
Today we move from playing with Abel to grown ups playing together, and taking card games more seriously than certain members of my family do.
But Victor Champion was family: some sort of cousin, born to what became the Australian branch in 1908, almost on the dockside after his parents’ arrival to tour the theatres with their shows. They all made their homes there.
Victor was a champion Bridge player and a bit of a philosopher. Here he is on cheating; what he says is worth applying to other areas of life; I might ask myself, what are my easy forms of dishonesty; my habitual self-deceptions?
‘To cheat at cards is generally considered to be one of the lowest forms of human depravity; and yet there are many respectable, virtuous people who constantly cheat, though they would be horrified should they be so accused. They would be surprised to learn – they need to nevertheless – that an inflection in the voice, a gesture, a look or a pause, may be just as much an act of cheating as an ace up the sleeve – more so in fact; for, whereas few of us possess the necessary talent to keep spare aces around, the other little tricks are easy forms of dishonesty.’
(And it’s easier to photograph 5 kings than other forms of cheating at cards!)
Follow this link to read more about cousin Victor.
The Empire builders drew a straight line in the sand dividing Syria and Iraq, and all those similarly ruled boundaries in Canada and Australia. Was anyone asked would they rather be in Manitoba or Saskatchewan? Thank God those boundaries cause little friction.
The Welsh border with England has very few straight bits, and the area around Oswestry is a case in point. On the map England seems to have taken a huge bite out of Wales, and place names in English and Welsh turn up on either side of the border. Maesbury is a mishmash of the two, and Welsh Frankton is definitely in England.
The New Saints Football Club play in the Welsh Premier League but have their ground in Oswestry, England, and so it goes on.
The Old Saint of Oswestry was King Oswald of Northumbria who died at Oswald’s Tree – or Oswestry – in the 7th Century, battling against the pagan Mercians and their Welsh allies – who of course were more than capable of going to war against Mercia when the fit was on them. Or of marrying across the border as seems to have happened more than once in my own family.
Let us be grateful for peaceful co-existence along the Marches of England and Wales and pray for peace along the many borders that divide rather than unite people in our world today.
Oswald from a Ms in New York Public Library:
File:Stoswaldaskingnyplspencer1f89r.jpg From Wikipedia