"That's me! I'm the shitstorm man! I'm a beautiful person!
Yay for me!"
Vicar has emailed text for the Christmas services flyer I have agreed to lay out:
"Children are welcome to come dressed as Nativity characters."
Automated email from HR system:
"Great news. You appear to be completely in control of everything..."
Appearances can be deceptive.
I'm on a divorce roll at the moment but don't worry I'll change the subject soon! I got a private message the other day with a question from a friend who said they follow these blogs with interest as they feel they don't really know much about the subject. So I thought I'd answer their question and use the answer as a blog too in case it's useful to anyone more widely. Here goes.
This is not being too nosey at all, I'm happy to answer! There are a few distinct people and their actions which I found really helpful at the time, and they have stuck in my memory as being beautiful people.
The common point in these are people being present without forcing conversations about raw topics. The friends were not actively engaging in the event itself, they weren't giving opinions, trying to fix things or influence the shape or the speed of events. Someone going through a separation is processing their own complex feelings and deciding things with immense consequences on their future - that is more than enough to overwhelm. No-one except the couple concerned knows the whole story, so let your friend go at their own pace and in complete ownership of the situation and any talking, but make yourself visible and fully present while they do so. Don't wait for the invitation -- muscle your way in with the hot meal. And maybe a bottle of gin.
Anyone else got any thoughts and tips?
My most popular blog posts have been about divorce. So does that mean I should write about it more? Or less - you are just nosey and this shouldn't be encouraged? WHO KNOWS.
When I got divorced, I was driven by my sister into the sunshine (Cambridge) with a few bags in the boot of her car. I basically had the items I had left my university bedroom with a few years earlier, plus two wedding presents from university friends. While I was in an unhappy relationship, I cared about new windows, extensions, cars, paints. Once I left the relationship, a part of my materialism left me too. I cared about people, love, family.
There is a mental freedom that arrives with freedom from belongings. There is less to worry about and less to restrict you. There are fewer hurdles in your path ahead. I guess this is why major faiths advocate it; over time we shackle ourselves to belongings again and again, and again and again we need a reminder to release ourselves, a rhythm of recalibration, a Sabbath, a Sabbatical, a Jubilee.
I try and remind myself of this when spending time on Rightmove looking at spare bedrooms and gardens (in my view the biggest luxuries in London). Happiness is not to be found in spare bedrooms or architect's drawings. It's found in walking with the right people, down the right path and once a week, once every seven years, or 50, we need to force ourselves to remember.
All of those who studied the 50 Set Works on the London board for A-Level music came across Berio's Sinfonia. The
A-Level Music course was, for me, a bit of a crash course in music history; I knew very little. I could find requested chords in scores within seconds, I could knock out a fancy chorale. My understanding of harmony and theory was there but I lacked the background knowledge of the repertoire, the canon.
The piece therefore was a bit lost on me. I liked what I was told about it, I liked what I saw and I was attracted to the fact that it seemed a challenge to understand, but I certainly didn't 'get it'. I don't fully now, but I've been privileged to sit within it 12 times now so I'm getting there. It's like Mary Poppin's handbag with its endless fruits -- it just keeps giving you things to understand and to discover.
John Axelrod (Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai, Turin x 2)
Ingo Metzmacher (La Scala, Milan x 3)
Edo de Waart (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra x 2)
Marin Alsop (Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra - Brazil x 3, Royal Festival Hall London x 1)
Nicola Marasco (La Fenice, Venice x 1)
The piece was written for the Swingle Singers in 1967 and the knowledge of the typos in the scores, what Berio meant, how it should be performed, what the markings mean, the best way to be conducted for different passages, has been passed down through the group as individuals have left and others joined. Jo Goldsmith Eteson, who has done it 35 times or more, must have the most knowledge in her head at present (I don't think the others will mind me saying that!) and effortlessly does the scarily exposed aria-introduction to movement five. Legend.
Here's a list of strange things that churches do which should be unpacked a little more.
I'm not saying they are always wrong in all circumstances, and I'm not going into why things are weird. And I am certainly not saying I've never done any of them. But with an older, more grown-up lens, they look so odd that the reasons behind them should be thought through a little more. Why? Since when? Who did it first? Was it a good idea then? What are the arguments against it? What would Rachel's mum think? (An excellent lens which doesn't always go the way you expect, annoyingly...)
In no particular order...
1. Prefer venues with no natural light.
2. Play background music behind liturgy, prayers, sermons.
3. Name one of the organisers the 'producer'.
4. Time services to the minute.
5. Think anyone 'on stage' needs to have their life in order.
6. Make any comments, publicly or privately, on any congregation member's sex life, in any way.
7. Have 'industry' awards.
8. Deflect all compliments to the Lord.
9. Think everyone speaking publicly in the church needs to have the same views.
10. Avoid Halloween completely.