Blessing #206 – Evening Song

A couple of weeks ago Sue and I took a few days off in Northumberland. We’d managed to book a small cottage a short walk away from a beach with a view of the sea. 

The April weather was very kind to us and we enjoyed glorious days and fabulous sunsets, we even got up very early one morning to watch the sunrise over the sea.

One evening I decided to take a walk in the dunes along the beach and to watch the sunset from there. As I powered my way up the loose sand on one of the dunes I noticed a Robin in the top of a thorn bush singing away. It was like it was singing to the sunset telling it how much it appreciated its colourful display. Or perhaps it was telling the other Robins in the area who was boss. I don’t mind why it was singing it beautiful to listen to.

This evening I took a walk alkng a lane which runs through a salt marsh out towards the sea. This lane is only a short distance from quite a large town but it wasn’t long before the noise of the vehicles feeding into and out of the town subsided and the song of hundreds of Skylarks filled the air. I was completely surrounded by their serenading. As I wandered along the Skylarks were joined by a Curlew with its haunting melody. The sun was setting ahead of me and it was lovely.

We are blessed in the UK to have such beautiful choral birds, even if we aren’t that good at stoping and appreciating them.

As I walked back along the lane to my car, the sound of vehicles returned and the evening song subsided out of earshot but not out of my consciousness. The song is still there I just can’t hear it any more, but I can remember it.

Top posts for 2015 – Blessings and My Stories

There hasn’t been much new content on this site this year, there are many reasons for that, but I have to admit that the primary one is that I just didn’t get around to it.

For Blessings posts the top 10 have looked like this:

  1. Count Your Blessings #120 – Short Stories
  2. Blessings #183 – Counting the thing I have that money can’t buy
  3. Blessing #203 – High-Mileage Songs
  4. Blessing #205 – A Bit of Nonsense
  5. Count Your Blessings #64 – Stories, Fables and Parables
  6. Blessings #176 – Hovis Digestives
  7. Blessings #198 – Personal Proverbs
  8. Blessings #196 – A Full Notebook
  9. Blessing #204 – Clearing Out
  10. Blessings #202 – Home

It’s worth noting that the top 2 are by far the most popular posts.

For My Stories there’s only a top 8, because I’ve only written 9 of them:

  1. My Stories: Concussion
  2. My Stories: Mr Smith
  3. My Stories: Two Allotments
  4. My Stories: Hornsea Waves
  5. My Stories: £9 or £10
  6. My Stories: Jet Planes, Helicopters and Army Vehicles
  7. My Stories: “Y’alright Wack”
  8. My Stories: Sitting in the Corner

I have a list of ideas for the My Stories posts in my to-do list, I just need to get the words typed, so hopefully some more to follow in 2016.

Blessing #205 – A Bit of Nonsense

I was talking with someone the other day about how I quite like nonsense rhymes like this one:

I eat my peas with honey;
I’ve done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps them on the knife.

Or this one (the version I remember anyway):

One fine day, in the middle of the night,
Two dead men got up to fight
Back-to-back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot each other.

Some places quote extra lines, others change a few words, but the nonsense is still the same.

Another one:

Spring is sprung, the grass is ris.
I wonders where the birdies is.
They say the birds is on the wing.
Ain’t that absurd?
I always thought the wing was on the bird.

Interestingly, most of these rhymes seem to be attributed to that wonderful person: Anonymous.

Jesus quite liked a bit of nonsense, we don’t really see it because we’ve heard the stories so many times and we don’t understanding the cultural context in which he was writing:

When the father runs towards the prodigal son it was nonsense – no father would have done the running. (see Luke 15:11-32).

When Jesus makes the Good Samaritan the hero of the story it was nonsense. Samaritans were never heroes (see Luke 10:25-37).

The day Jesus told a rich young ruler “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” He was talking nonsense, wealth showed that you were blessed, if you gave it away you were no longer blessed (see Mark 10:17-27).

I quite like a bit of nonsense.

Blessing #204 – Clearing Out

As I look out into our back garden now covered with Autumn leaves I see all sorts  colours. From the brightest reds, to the deepest browns, there are evergreen and moss greens it’s an array of flora that has recently exploded into colour and is now spread across the garden. It will need clearing up, but there’s no rush, it has only been a couple of weeks since we spent time picking and sweeping. There’s a neighbour out in their front garden with a leaf blower he’s there most weekends, their garden is much neater than mine.

Beyond my garden there is a high hawthorn hedge which belongs to a bungalow. In the garden of the bungalow there are all sorts of left-over building materials and enough building equipment to stock a hardware store. I pass the front of the bungalow on my morning walk sometimes. In the driveway there are at least four vehicles which are full of more building materials, each vehicle is surrounded by more building material and I wouldn’t be surprised of there are more vehicles hidden under the other material. At the entrance to the driveway there are two more vehicles which are themselves full of building material and other detritus, they stay at the entrance because they can’t get in the drive. I’ve never met the person who lives in the house but it doesn’t look like a happy place to live.

A couple of months ago I had some time available on a Saturday to start to clear out the garage which had got a bit messy with things being delivered, stored and restored. It was becoming frustrating clambering over things all the time trying to find the thing I was looking for. Unfortunately the clearing out had only got to that point where it didn’t really look much better than when I had started before I had to finish. I wanted to get the tidying finished so that I could store the garden furniture for the rapidly approaching autumn and winter. A couple of weeks ago I again had some time available to finish the job. After sorting, sweeping and a few trips to the local tip it felt so rewarding to put everything in its place and to see how much free space there was in there and how easily the garden furniture fitted.

There are parts of my life that like each one of these places, a bit messy like the garden, in need of serious clearing out like the bungalow and nicely tidy (for now) like the garage. There’s something very rewarding about clearing these places out but some of them look like a big job and that’s when we need help. Thankfully Jesus doesn’t expect us to have a cleared out life, he just wants to help us with the tidying and to get to know us in the process. Thankfully he’s not comparing our level of cleanliness to our neighbours, he knows us and wants to meet us where we are. From my experience Jesus is more interested in getting to know us that getting everything right in our lives.

Blessing #203 – High-Mileage Songs

The other evening I was out for a walk while Sue was visiting a friend.

I’ve had some kind of portable music device since I was a teenager and I’ve always liked listening to music as I walk. First it was cassette tapes then CD’s and latterly some kind of MP3 player.

On this particular evening I was listening to a playlist of songs that iTunes had automatically created based on one of my favourite songs.  Most of the songs on this playlist date back to my cassette tape days and it got me thinking about how many miles some of these songs have travelled with me. Miles walking, miles driving and even miles flying.

The playlist continued and then I heard a few cords and these words:

Sing this with me, this is “40”

I must have heard those words hundreds of times, before they had even been spoke I knew what was  coming next:

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

These words were being recorded in 1983, over 30 years ago and they’ve meant a lot to me through the years. This has been one of my signpost song with signpost words.

Words that have been there as a signpost through exams at school, college and university.

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long, how long, how long
How long to sing this song

Words that have been there as a signpost through engagement, marriage and children.

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and hear

Words that have been there at work and at play.

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

Words that have been there from rental to buying smaller onto buying bigger.

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long, how long, how long
How long to sing this song

How long to sing this song? I don’t know but for a long while yet I hope. I like new songs, but I also love high-mileage songs, songs that have formed signposts in my life.

The song is call “40” because it’s based on Psalm 40. That makes them words that are thousands of years old and signpost words for generations.

Those signposts are important markers of where we have come from.

(The picture is of the sunset that night taken on the beach in Southport)

Blessings: Top 20 for 2014

I’m always a bit intrigued by which of the Blessing posts gets visitors. Most of them are the most recent ones, but some of them go a long way back. Number 20 – Running in the Company of a Happy Few goes all the way back to 2005:

  1. Blessings #183 – Counting the thing I have that money can’t buy
  2. Blessings #197 – Laughing Anyway
  3. Blessings #198 – Personal Proverbs
  4. Blessings #196 – A Full Notebook
  5. Count Your Blessings #120 – Short Stories
  6. Blessings #199 – My Stories, Our Stories
  7. Count Your Blessings #64 – Stories, Fables and Parables
  8. Blessings #201 – Seen, Heard and Known
  9. Blessings #202 – Home
  10. Blessings #200 – The Buzzard Feather
  11. Blessings #194 – Chronos
  12. Blessings #195 – Photography Books
  13. Count Your Blessings #90 – The Alarm Call of the Blackbird at Dusk
  14. Blessings #176 – Hovis Digestives
  15. Count Your Blessings #54 – Sky Watching
  16. Blessings #160 – Sun’s Rays
  17. Blessings #193 – The Smell of Summer Rain
  18. Blessings #189 – Travelling a New Path
  19. Count Your Blessings #91 – Decorating Christmas Trees
  20. Count Your Blessings #37 – Running in the Company of a Happy Few

Blessings #202 – Home

There’s a well known song that has these words in the chorus:

Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home

I don’t believe them!

Home is the place where you fit in, and it fits around you.

Whenever I am away from home I spend much of my time trying to find things and checking where things are. At home I don’t have to think about where I’ve put my keys down; even if I can’t remember where I put them I know the places where to look. When I’m away from home they could be anywhere.

I’ve spent enough nights in hotel rooms to develop a twitch every time I leave a room – “Where’s the room key card? Where’s my wallet? Have I got everything?

At home there is an unspoken routine. We don’t have to be constantly talking through what we are going to do next, for most of the time we instinctively know.

We know the signs of who’s in and who’s out when we are home. We have three cars in our house, these days, but the drive is only two cars wide. If everyone is in there is always one car blocked in, but that’s not a problem because at home we know who is going to be needing there car next so we know where to park.

Home is the place where you know which draw to look in for which clothes. You don’t have to go through all of the drawers trying to find your socks.

At home you don’t have to think too hard about what clothes you are going to wear.

Home is a place of memories. Memories of evenings with friends around the table. Memories of chocolate chilli roulette. Memories of huddles of young people around a fire pit. Memories of Christmas mornings and birthday teas. Memories of newborn babies entering the place where they will build their own library of memories. Memories of saying goodbye as those babies, now grown, set out on new adventures of their own. Memories of tears and disappointments too.

Home is a privilege and a joy. It saddens we to know that in this world of conflict and refugees so many don’t live in a place that they can call home. But I also have a hope that one day this world will be swept aside and we will move from this home to another home where there is no more conflict and strife, a place where everyone is at home.