Two lines from the compline hymn came to mind when I read about the Christmas TV Ad which shows a boy who has a monster under his bed. Not a lot to do with the real meaning of Christmas, I hear you say. Let’s play with that idea.
This monster above has lived in the crypt, or basement of Canterbury Cathedral for many hundreds of years, along with a few more of different kinds, not unlike the imaginary beasts in the margins of ancient manuscripts. This fellow is within sight of Mother Concordia of Minster’s Mary and Child.
Ancient writers imagined the infant Jesus creating living creatures from the mud of the ground. I can imagine him playing with toy monsters and dinosaurs as so many children do today. There were plenty of monsters to be seen among the deities of ancient Egypt where he grew up!
Can we not play, and play fairly, in the world created for us and be grateful? Let’s play fairly by some of our less favoured sisters and brothers this Christmas – we all know several ways of helping. Let’s not be selfish monsters!
This year we made more like 200 jars of apricot jam than 20; never was there such a fruiting in all the years the tree has been with us.
I wondered about the stones: was there a quick and easy way of cracking them open to get at the kernels, used in Italy to make amaretto. Events got in the way of that, but when Mrs T cleared out the shed she found that the wood mice had carried a great heap of stones into a dark corner and feasted on the amaretti. No biscuits or liquor for us, but who could begrudge the mice their treat?
Does anyone go mad from trying to keep up with advice from the healthy living czars? A recent one was that everyone should take at least a 20 minutes brisk – it must be brisk for the magic to work – most days in the week.
The day after reading it I took a walk of about 1 km with 2¼ year old Abel. Brisk it was not! We dallied and dillied. We hid behind trees, watched the trains go by, bought some tomatoes. We took them home and ate most of them. We did that slowly too.
I’d warrant that was a healthier walk for both of us than, say, my strapping him into the buggy and jogging for 20 minutes with a monitor on my arm.
Is there a monitor for fun?
Festina Lente! Look it up, preferably in an old fashioned dictionary, but no doubt the web will tell you.
Last Autumn I wrote about a walk along the Thames near Richmond, with Belted Galloway cattle near the end of it. Today I walked from Waterloo to Lambeth beside a river confined by embankments, with light shipping passing by the Palace of Westminster and cyclists, joggers, dog-walkers and tourists in both directions along the path, not all looking where they were going.
One thing I was hoping to see, but only saw when I wasn’t looking for it – a cormorant. Picture this, if you will, flying past the Houses of Parliament; I was on the opposite bank.
In my youth anyone falling in the River might have died from poisoning. They even kept my little brother in hospital for observation after he fell into the Serpentine Lake in the park (and I had to go home on the bus in wet clothes after dragging him out).
There must be enough fish in the river to satisfy those greedy cormorants.
When my mother and I visited my brother in hospital on the following Friday he was happy to say goodbye. Dinner had arrived – fish and chips and it looked really tasty! He’s still very fond of fish and there are even herons along the Serpentine these days.
Mrs Turnstone and I find ourselves at the water’s edge in Wales. We should mark Dylan’s Birthday! These are the last three stanza’s of his birthday ‘Poem in October.’
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child's
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
And the legends of the green chapels
And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and the sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Still in the water and singing birds.
And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart's truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.
May each one of us find the child’s key to heaven that opened the gate for Dylan that day when he whispered the truth of his joy.
Views of Laugharne, where Dylan walked.
I hope you can listen to Dylan reading the poem here: