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Word from Wormingford

05 April 2013

Ronald Blythe finds plenty to think about in the Easter liturgy

IN THE old liturgy, there are readings for Monday and Tuesday in Easter Week, then a great jump to the First Sunday, the content of these readings being more than enough for any Christian to contemplate. Their stories are filled with physicality, of eating and walking. The resurrected Jesus walks all the way to Emmaus - seven miles - and turns supper into the eucharist; says "Handle me: I'm not some ghost."

The spring weather has to be imagined, but one senses its brightness. What is evident is normality, a carefulness not to give hostage to myth. There is fish and honeycomb and wine and bread. The cross is referred to as "the tree" - as itself a living thing. In reality, it would have been used to put to death many a poor criminal. Divinely perceived, it drew to it glorious words, some of them spoken by the tree itself.

My trees shake in the cold April air. Shake and crack. Never so many birds. And thousands of flowers, all the first daffodils and the lasting hellebores. I crave warmth. A day to put a chair outside. I have been doing the proofs of a new book, re-reading each page line by line, lifting the illiterate cat from my copy, telling it a tale, making coffee for callers, cleaning winter off the windows, working hard. The snow takes its time to go away. Patches of it cling to the hillside for dear life. The sun turns a horse's whirling tail into spun glass. Acres of vegetables should be "getting going". I fill in a great hole in my track with broken bricks and flints, while dogs come to watch. The Little Horkesley church clock tells the hours vaguely. Kites float overhead. And, lo and behold!, the sun heats up.

There is a proverb that says: "A snow year, a rich year." George Herbert collected it. Tell this to the journalists who cannot stop going crazy when it comes to weather. They are the best-dressed people on TV, have you noticed? None of their clothes have been out in the rain. And correctly so; for our weather is our religion, and its forecasters are our priests. Their smiles! Their smart vestments!

At matins and evensong, I say: "Let us remember in our hearts all those who are ill, in pain, or are having difficult treatments. . ." And should I wake up in the night, I do the same. Although, as I rarely wake between 11 p.m. and 6.30 a.m., sick friends tend to be sparsely prayed for. So I must adjust my petitions.

As I rarely attend the village surgery, I was surprised when the doctor shouted "Next!" when there was only myself in the next room. He gave me 50 paracetamols, which I haven't taken, and this two years ago. But they might come in handy. You never know with the flesh. It plays one up. "Next!" Not that I think about it. I read poems and novels, and give bookish sermons to the same old friends, week in, week out. How good they are, how uncomplaining, how godly. How well they sing the hymns I have chosen. How well the organists, Meriel and Christopher, play them. How the bell-ringers call!

I danced on the Sabbath

 and I cured the lame:

the holy people

 said it was a shame.

It won't be long now before I plant out my cuttings and mow the grass. There will be some heat in the sun, some leaves on the trees.

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