Tuesday, November 29, 2016


So here sit Harry & I, wondering what happened.


How could it possibly be?

It's been a lovely day. Sunshine and frost and crisp, early winter's air. Our morning walk was a delight. No deer in sight today, but a gentle haze softening the edges of the fields as they meet the sky, and barely a note of cloud to be found anywhere in the sky.


I don't recall the weather ten years ago. I do recall the party, in the Gelliwastad Club in Pontypridd. MGQ playing, lots of friends and family and parishioners all around.

This year's party was in September. In the garden. Tonight it was just a few friends here at home.

Twenty years ago I had just moved to Aberystwyth. Though I moved in September, the house wasn't ready till the day before my birthday so I threw a housewarming-cum-birthday bash, and my tiny terraced cottage was filled with noise and joy.

Twenty-five years ago I was flying home from Israel. I'd been there with a team from St Aldate's, working with the two Anglican churches in Jerusalem and then having a chance to sightsee in Galilee. During the second half of that trip, I'd had the most amazing experience. Taking an afternoon by myself (because I was fed up and cross) I had ended up genuinely meeting with God by the lakeside in Galilee, and still have the pebble I picked up as I prayed there. The dusk came in fast, and though I found a bus stop back to Tiberias, it was in Hebrew and I had no idea what it said so I started to walk back. A car stopped, and the older gent who offered a lift (I guess he was probably the age I am now) was a University lecturer - a philologist. He spoke six languages. Sadly, English was number six, and so we conversed in a mixture of broken French and English, and I told him that I was training to be a priest.

He said:
If you want God's want, you are (how you say) congratulations.

Twenty-nine years ago this night happened in the University Church in Oxford, as I conducted the OICCU Carol Service on my 21st Birthday. I got my first CD player that day too. Goodness.

The year before, I don't exactly recall what I was doing, but I do recall walking with friends in Oxford at night and being terribly depressed that I was no longer a teenager. The move from 19 to 20 seemed enormous.

That I have friends from those far off days around me this evening, friends who have known me through the years, and messages from around the world pinging on my phone all day, is all the gift anyone could ask for.

The memories are selective; the blessings beyond number.

Friday, November 25, 2016

running with the 'graine

So let's finish the migraine post.

Last time I wrote of the autumn mists of the migraine I was suffering. It's all over now, but it took its time, and one of the things that really helped was being able to find occasional past posts here and compare current experience with them... So to help my future self, here's how it ended.

Well, the problem was it really struggled to end. The migraine itself was severe for two weeks. At fifteen days it had more or less burned itself out -the nausea, the vertigo, the severest of the headaches had all gone. But it just wouldn't die. It was like there was a room in my head I couldn't get into: I remained fuzzy, unable to function fully, to think clearly or to respond with the kind of mental acuity I regard as normal. Someone reminded me of something that had happened a week before - and I had no memory of it. All the sorts of things that go on during a migraine for me. And this low-grade murkiness, this tail-end fog just wouldn't clear. There was, in the end, another month of it before it dispersed.

One Saturday, three parishioners prayed with me, and as they prayed I felt the clouds part and for an afternoon I had a wonderfully clear day. Really, that's just how it felt. The following morning was back to the usual tightrope between clarity and confusion. The closed door in my head. The frustration.

I've been avoiding conflict - because any kind of conflict makes the general confusion much worse, and that internal room I can't get into gets bigger. I'm also aware I have been liable to being grumpier than usual, and dealing with conflict without the ability to bring in the kind of self-aware choosing of grace I would like to hope I sometimes have - well, that's not the way I like to deal with conflict. I have had to send one or two apology emails.

I now have reading glasses.

I saw the doctor who suggested I swapped between paracetamol and aspirin in order to take the edge off the thing. A cheap solution, and (with the addition of  slightly upset stomach) a reasonably effective one.

And then... it just faded. Finally. Six weeks after starting.

I'm left feeling a bit exhausted, a bit empty, and more than a bit relieved. Here's to it being nine years or more before the next one.