For years worship was anywhere I could play Aretha Franklin singing Amazing Grace in which (happy blend of cultural ideas) her voice makes shapes in the air
as beautiful as the finest European cathedrals. Which takes me to the flagstones of an old church in South Africa (Tulbagh) for the low notes… and the stave church – all wood in Norway, nine hundred years old … free association is a wonderful thing.
Now I walk and pray in the street between my home and the convenience store where I buy my papers, and home again. I love it in the dark of winter, because I love winter but it works just as well in soft light of summer. Or any other season and weather. I commend silently to God’s care those I love, including family, friends and neighbours, the known and the unknown, the young who fear to be forgotten in Hong Kong, the stateless Rohinga, the ravaged poor round the corner and across the world, the creatures,
the land, the water and the sky.
I don’t pray very formally remembering with affectionate laughter the late great Margaret Rutherford falling to her knees in Farewell Farewell Eugene to announce: “Now dear God, this is urgent … !” Laughter is irreplaceable.
Pam the Painter has a saying “Put that in your bucket !” meaning save the memory of that kindness, that compliment, that shining moment …. The bucket is year round. But seasonally, I feel I might extend the metaphor and talk about the stocking.
Wal has recently found, through one of those Google in your neighbourhood schemes, a gifted Armenian seamstress called Sarah and he wanted to buy trouser material which meant a trip to a dream of a fabric shop, a family business called Joel’s. Wal and I haven’t seen each other for ages, so masks to the fore, we went together. I was just there to dress the set.
He knew what he wanted, it was all accomplished with minimum fuss and maximum efficiency, and then we went to the counter behind which was a woman I knew from years ago when I used to shop there too, and a pretty woman in her fifties whom I did not recognise, with earrings I admired. “My mother gave them to me” she explained. “God bless your mother” I replied. And when everything was settled, the younger woman came round the counter, stood opposite me and said” You used to have short dark hair.” I did. She said some lovely things and her husband murmured deprecatingly “I’m afraid I don’t keep up with the television.” I said beaming “You wouldn’t have seen me in the last fifteen years !” So, having exchanged goodhearted pleasantries,
we left. It was moving to be remembered so generously and it’s going straight in my stocking.
I tend to tell these stories as they happen on the basis that, as they sustain me, they are good to share. The world
is hard, it always was, and you don’t need a special occasion to share joy. “Joy cometh in the morning” – untaxed, unfattening, a thing of wonder and this year, my joys include –
My grand daughter who sent me (with her father’s help) a drawing of the world and in thanking her I sent a line of kisses (xxxxx right across the screen) which apparently she loved. Stocking.
Katherine who arrived with long stemmed red coral roses in a beautiful vase (she’s a potter) and a book and a card – Raeburn gold medal – ie I was speechless.
The hound and helicopter unit (K9) in the Kruger game park which is having success at catching poachers and saving black rhino calves. Black rhino and bloodhounds – definitely stocking
– while Declan ended his letter telling me how his parents approved of me with the unheard of exhortation “Stay awesome.” And Mehmet declined my fare in his taxi. All stocking.
The stocking may develop a hole, it may wear out or go missing in some dusty corner but the idea of it doesn’t change. Remember the good and the beautiful – they lift the heart.
*Next week is the transition over the bridge from the Old Year into the New.
Let’s not promise each other anything but hope for health and peace and better days. I drink to you, you drink to me.
Annalog will be back the week of 4 January 2021….