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Posts Tagged ‘sunshine’

It’s a busy start to the academic year here in the Vicarage. I think it may be my favourite time of year, when I’m feeling all relaxed post holiday, with the last vestiges of summer sunshine lingering and the excuse for the purchase of new stationery. And there are new beginnings – new Ministry Trainees this year, new school years for the kids (and a whole new school for the Joker as he starts secondary education), new plans for church life, a feeling of potential for growth and change.

The new Ministry Trainees moved in a couple of weeks ago. We are excited about all that God will do with and through King and the Shropshire lad. They’ve already been to church services and socials, King has been on a training conference, they have moved chairs and been to the zoo with the Vicarage family (the actual zoo, not just a meal time round the dining table). This morning they experienced their first school assembly. Within a couple of months they should be leading one. There may have to be some training in action songs first. I think we have their heads spinning a little. In a good way.

The Joker began secondary school by being so fast to get to the bus home that he missed me waiting at the main entrance to school. It was a very dull journey back for me on the later bus. But we know he knows what he’s doing. Better than his mum, anyway.

And now my stationery pile beckons. I’ve been told that it’s no good just having shiny new notebooks. I think I need to write things in them.

We didn’t just bring bottles of wine back from France this summer.

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We’ve not been feeding people all that much lately. I got a nasty virus after Christmas and seemed to lose steam all the way to Easter. Sunday lunches (our usual slot for planned hospitality) were confined to the Vicarage household plus Dreamer. And I almost began to think that it was too much hassle to have anyone else over on a Sunday at all.

But then, just a couple of weeks ago, we had a sunny weekend. And I was overcome with a desire to barbecue. And that seemed like an easier Sunday lunch to organise. So we invited a family we’d been meaning to invite over for ages. And then we thought about another family who we’d seen a lot over our Easter mission and the Vicar called them but they didn’t answer the phone. So then we invited someone else. And then the second family rang back. And we invited them too. And so it was that we ended up having 18 people for Sunday lunch.

And you know what? In the garden, with the old church hall trestle tables from the shed, lovely sunshine and lots of laughter, eighteen people seemed like a perfectly normal number. And after that, inviting a family of five for Sunday lunch this week didn’t seem like a big thing either. It was actually very lovely to talk to people and enjoy eating with them. Of course I knew that, but I’d forgotten. And then this week I read this lovely post about Scruffy Hospitality by Wesley Hill, and it helped me to remember that the purpose of hospitality is the cultivation of friendship, the sharing of lives. And cooking a bit of extra food is really not that much trouble. It really isn’t.

So I’m grateful this week for a renewed vision for hospitality: scruffy hospitality, messy hospitality, doable hospitality, just inviting people anyway hospitality, hospitality for the saints, hospitality for the stranger, hospitality without grumbling, hospitality that is a welcome and a blessing. And I’m praying that we’ll keep on getting together with the saints and with strangers, we’ll keep on inviting others into the Vicarage for laughing and talking and growing community, building the body. That’s my prayer this week.

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What do you think about as you return from your holidays? As we drove away from the Channel Tunnel, heading back to the Vicarage, last week I was remembering (as always) a poem by Laurie Lee that I learnt by heart when I was at school:

Home From Abroad

Far-fetched with tales of other worlds and ways,
My skin well-oiled with wines of the Levant,
I set my face into a filial smile
To greet the pale, domestic kiss of Kent.

But shall I never learn? That gawky girl,
Recalled so primly in my foreign thoughts,
Becomes again the green-haired queen of love
Whose wanton form dilates as it delights.

Her rolling tidal landscape floods the eye
And drowns Chianti in a dusky stream;
he flower-flecked grasses swim with simple horses,
The hedges choke with roses fat as cream.

So do I breathe the hayblown airs of home,
And watch the sea-green elms drip birds and shadows,
And as the twilight nets the plunging sun
My heart’s keel slides to rest among the meadows.

Kent was certainly beautiful to look at. Our front drive not so much… (and more on this tomorrow too).

Rocky tells us this was originally left blocking the drive

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A few things I saw on my trip to the local shops just now, 4pm on a sunny Thursday afternoon:

  • The white lady behind me in the Asian supermarket bought a four pack of Scrumpy Jack cider, a bottle of wine, a small bottle of vodka and some mouthwash. I worried about her liver.
  • The kids from a family from school all dressed up in their best Asian clothes were trooping off to mosque. ‘Hello miss’ they called to me. I count as a teacher because I read with a couple of them in school.
  • A black lady in her dressing gown and what looked like her daughter, sitting on plastic chairs right by the pavement in their tiny front garden, enjoying a glass of orange juice.
  • My kids and a whole multi-cultural group of local friends all mucking about on the church’s playground,  squealing happily. Beautiful.

How are you enjoying the sunshine?

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