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
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
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.