All that you have done to us, o Lord, you have done with true judgement.
32nd Wedding anniversary. As our treat we go to the Civic Service in Gainsborough. The sermon, a good one, is on the theme of them and us. We should treat everybody as us. Good in theory but practical? Can we accommodate a million Syrians here really?
MONDAY 26th September
Mass in the Cathedral. The reading is on Job. Sometimes this summer I have felt like Job, but I remember a phrase of Winston Graham’s: a cameraman is standing in the pouring rain, waiting patiently. ‘Why do you look so cheerful?’ he is asked. ‘I’m alive, I’m well and I’m working’. What more do I want? One should remember that more often.
We drive down to Cornwall and the car stops and won’t start in the fast lane of the M4. Otherwise, uneventful.
Always a delight to arrive at Polzeath in the dark and walk out to the sea.
TUESDAY 27th September
I am reading here – ‘The Fishermen of Port Isaac’ by Geoff Provis.
In the nineteenth century all the pilchards, now gone, were sold to Italy for Lenten fast.
He quotes verse:
“Here’s a letter to the Pope, and may he repent
And lengthen by six months the term of his Lent,
It’s always declared betwixt the two poles
There’s nothing like pilchards for saving of souls”.
Now Port Isaac is just a lovely tourist venue, but still there are echoes of an age when a hundred men earned their living there.
Apparently up to 1830 Cornwall had 44 MPs (to Scotland’s 60) so a bounty for pilchards was extracted from a distant Government, with MPs comes bounties!
Mary is ill so I walk alone around Pentire Point.
WEDNESDAY 28th September
We walk past Daymer Bay to the ferry and have an anniversary dinner in Padstow. The church is locked but I wander around the gardens of Prideaux Place, wandering from the colonel’s walk a
magnificent of the Camel estuary. We have our anniversary dinner and walk back along the beach.
THURSDAY 29th September
We do a very tiring hour walk to Port Quin, a sad place. According to legend all the men died in a fishing accident and the women wandered away in grief. We walk down in Lundy Bay, the high tide waves crashing, the sea silvering in the twilight and exhausted from fresh air, supper in a cosy cottage.
FRIDAY 30th September
We drive to Downside. I start reading St Therese of Lisieux. It is her feast day tomorrow. As always at Downside, after compline, I sit alone in the great dark Abbey church.
SATURDAY 1st October – Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
I have always found her autobiography of a soul a bit cheesy but in today’s reading, a passage grabs me and moves my soul. Perhaps it is the effect of the beautiful Saturday morning Latin Mass in the Abbey.
“In the first section, 12th and 13th chapters of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher. That the Church is composed of a variety of members …
I found this an encouraging theme
Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others.
For the apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love
… I recognised myself in none of the members which St Paul described
… love appeared to me to be like hunger for my vocation.
I knew that the church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love
… and I realised that love sets off the bounds of all vocations
… at last I have found my calling: my call is love”
This struck me most forcibly.
Therese wanted to be a martyr or a missionary. She did not have the strength.
She had to settle for something less but in the end it was much more, just love, and now Therese is a doctor of the Church.
Of course, love in the cloister is challenging. No doubt the other nuns are irritating sometime, but at least they are trying for the same thing. How much greater is the challenge in the wider world?
But it shows we should not be frustrated that in our way of life we cannot achieve distinction. At the end there is always love left – even for the poorest, oldest, most ill and least successful”.