7.00 am: A communion. There’re times when it takes all one’s reserves to frame prayers, even before the task of uttering them has begun. It’s like talking into a gale; you can barely hear your own voice. But this was a front made, bespoke, for me and for this time. From many such experiences in the past, I’ve learned to weather the storm in the hope that brighter skies lie just below the horizon. Augustus of Hippo, in his exposition of Psalm 41, writes about the psalmist undergoing God’s chastening. It was, for the psalmist, as formative an experience as any blessing. Suffering is necessary on occasion. Sometimes, it’s the only way a lesson can be learned. Always it’s salutary:
All your breakers and waves have washed over me. The waves wash over me in the sufferings I undergo now, but your threats are judgements poised above me. All my present hardships are your waves, but all your menaces hang over me, ready to break on my head.
9.00 am: A trip to my surgery to discuss blood and treadmill tests, prescriptions, and my recent ear block problem. A good outcome and a sensible way forward on all fronts. All my vitals are in order. It’s the peripherals that dog me at the moment:
10.00: Back at homebase, I pushed on with what would be a gruelling week of marking, assessments, and write ups. I snacked on strawberries and hibiscus. 11.20 pm: With the Vocational Practice one-to-one assessment forms completed, I moved in on the Art in Wales essays:
After lunch, I pressed on with essays. Could I get all these done by the end of the day? Occasionally, I considered my present right-ear’s monophonic audition of the world. It’s experience of the sonic world is markedly different today to what it was on Saturday. The brain is adjusting, although my hearing deficit remains the same. My right-side perception seems far less constrained to that location. Now, I hear sound from the right to the centre of the auditory field. I’ve be told that people who’re blind in one eye experience something similar: the brain creates a compensatory illusion of stereoscopy. It cannot compensate for other lacks and losses in life, alas. 3.00 pm: Tea time:
My backside ached. Stretch! On with essay number four:
5.15 pm: Pause. I prepared the vegetables and rice for dinner. Ever since the children were babies, the meal has been taken in the early evening. Neither boys could go without food beyond 6.00 pm. But this meant that they could, thereafter, be bathed, read to, prayed with, and put to bed, leaving me a long stretch of work-time before I hit the pillow myself. Why change the habit of their lifetime:
7.30 pm: Back to marking, with Joni Mitchel’s Court and Spark (1973) in the background. After all the assessing and the board meetings are over, I’d like to get away from it all for a few days. I suspect that my destination will be, again, ‘the centre of known universe’ and my spiritual soil. There, I’ve made some of the most important decisions of my life, confirmed resolutions, repaired my heart, begun to feel again, and walked in the darkness, confidently. In those mountains, I’ve wandered, camped, bathed in icy streams and then stretched in the sun, picked over the bones of fallen sheep, kissed and been abandoned, and touched heaven:
Courtesy of Google Maps
By 9.40 pm, I was one essay short of completion. That’s one for early tomorrow morning.