One woe doth tread upon another’s heel. So fast they follow (Hamlet)
Sunday. As I entered the church for the morning service, I was told that one of our congregation, and a friend of mine, had taken their own life yesterday. No one had anticipated it. We were in the realms of the unthinkable. She was my age. I’d always admired her spirituality. It was warm, deeply real, radiant, and irrepressible. Her public intercessions were always salutary, pastoral, and full of faith. While battling with insuperable problems of her own, she always had time to respond to the needs of others. Empathy and sympathy was something she had, like the widow’s olive oil, as an inexhaustible supply (2 Kings 4). I knew that if she prayed for me, then God would surely listen.
Her influence for good touched many lives; it was an unacknowledged ministry. She was a giant in our midst. This spirituality had been matured by a lifetime’s walk with God through many deep waters. During the the last few years, she’d trod the ocean’s floor. To her had been given a cup of suffering filled with a profound bereavement and, what proved to be, overwhelming health problems. Silence and sadness are the only appropriate response in the face of such a tragedy. (Remember Job’s comforters.) Grief has been heaped upon grief.
After lunch, I ran my customary loop around the village of Llanbadarn Fawr, stopping off at the Church in order to catch my breath and reflect upon a great many things:
As evening approached, I looked out of the kitchen window and beyond to where my neighbour was bent over, breaking up the soil of her flower beds with a pitchfork. During the week, she’d pushed, with all her might, a heavy petrol-driven mower up and down a long lawn. Over a year ago, this young woman had lost her husband to a senseless traffic accident. She, now, has to be both a mother and the man about the house. Her indomitable ‘get on with it’ spirit has been an inspiration. I’ve never heard her utter a word of bitterness or resentment. Some people are utterly astonishing.
Today. 6.00 am: Floor exercises. Now that my arm has recovered from the operation, I can return to physical workouts. As part of the general policy ‘to change what can be changed’, and to wage war with my body (in order to forestal its inevitable, slow dilapidation), I’m alternating between mornings of exercise and mornings of running. (Weather permitting.) The indoor regime, presently, begins with a warm-up routine to stretch particular muscle groups from head to toe, followed by sits ups and press ups, and a shower and breakfast to conclude.
7.30 am: A communion. 8.00 am: I conducted administration in advance of the day’s teaching, email correspondence, and messaging, and completed last week’s registers. 9.00 am: An appointment for a fitting at the opticians. 9.30 am: Kassie from Salem, Oregon was in town. She’d spent a semester with us at the School as an exchange student – a period when her life changed immeasurably in so many ways. Her vitality, good humour, common sense, and distinctive way of thinking have remained intact. We supped and caught up on each other’s lives, in Starbucks. (She was astonished that Aberystwyth, of all places, now has one.):
10.30 am: Back at the mothership, admin beckoned. The School has a Periodic Scheme Review on the horizon. There’s a good deal of documentation to prepare and summative overviews to read closely. 12.50 pm: I set up for my final lecture on the Art in Wales module:
2.10 pm: Homebase, and a working lunch (fruit salad). I pushed on to complete the new suite of compositions. Only ‘Aitchay’ was outstanding. The most appropriate extract revealed itself immediately. Each part of the whole has characteristics that are distinct from the others. The parts follow one another in the same order as the original source material proceeds. I refrained from editing within the parts. There was no reason to disrupt their continuity. Some things insist upon their own integrity. 4.30 pm: Back to the School for a pre-review meeting with the other staff.
7.30 pm: I was in a position to import the tracks into the album on my sound site, so that I’d have an initial sense of how the compositions will sound in a streamable mode. The first task was to establish an appropriate bit depth and sample rate in order to create a file small enough to upload to the site without compromising the sound quality. I began writing the album text. This would be a tough call. For I wanted both to explain, while at the same time, conceal the work’s significance. The public and the private aren’t always easily reconciled.