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Life, death, luck and Lent

Standing near my trolley case,
Two men talk of life, of death,
Of luck, above my face.

These are three lines I wrote in a narrative poem on my return from South London at half term.  I was travelling mid-morning on a fast train to Victoria.  The first two shortened trains (at short intervals) had been far too overcrowded for me to board with my luggage.  When the third one arrived I opted to stand, so that I could look after my case.  This train was also packed and two men were talking to each other very close to me.  They were grey-haired grandfathers.

They travelled to Clapham Junction, so I was not eavesdropping on them for long.  One of them talked about a video on the internet showing a man, who had been standing too close to the edge of the platform, when a train came in to the station.  The train had brushed against him and he had lost his balance.  He fell between the train and the platform and was “all right”.   (There is a large gap between the train and the platform at that station.)

Then he went on to talk about someone he knew, who narrowly escaped drowning, while swimming in the sea with friends.  The rip-tide had carried them back out twice, but the third time they managed to swim ashore.  A short time later this man was killed in an industrial accident.  The speaker’s comment was, “Your number is up, but you’re with other people; we’ll come back for you later.”

They talked about luck and the talkative one said, “You can make your own luck.”

I was interested in what they had to say, partly because I was reminded of a group of men on another busy train last year.  They were on their way to a football match and discussed the recent tragic accident in which a young Australian cricketer had been hit by a ball and subsequently died.  It was a freak accident, which attracted the attention of sports fans and others around the world.  (I do not follow sport, but learned about it on Facebook!)

Jesus talked about sudden death and implied it was not a punishment for wrongdoing. Luke 13:1-5

My journey home was on Ash Wednesday and I wrote a rather poor poem (which I may rework) the following day.  It seemed a good way of recording a summary of the events of the day and the people I had met.  In the evening I ventured out to the communion service at the church, where I sing in the choir.  There is no choir for our midweek services, although hymns are sung.

The liturgy (printed order of service) for Ash Wednesday includes a long prayer with responses, known as the Litany.  The version in the Book of Common Prayer includes the words, “from sudden death. Good Lord, deliver us.”  I was interested to note that the modern translation asks God to deliver us “from dying unprepared”.

Many people would prefer to die suddenly than after a prolonged illness.  However, this is often very difficult for their friends and families.  There may be unfinished business – things left unsaid or not yet done.  The words, “live at peace” are helpful here.  We need to keep short accounts with God and people, asking forgiveness and forgiving others sooner rather than later.  In days long ago people talked about dying in a state of grace.  It is the same idea as allowing condemned prisoners a visit from a priest so they can confess their sins and be absolved.

Protestants do not believe that a priest is an essential intermediary.  We can go “boldly to the throne of grace”.  Hebrews 4:16

Lent (the season in the Christian year beginning on Ash Wednesday) is a time, when we remember our mortality.  We should not do this in a morbid way, but rather take time to reflect on our lives, our priorities and to draw closer to God, so that the peace of Christ may rule in our hearts. Colossians 3:15

Do you keep Lent?  What do you find helpful as you prepare for Easter?

Doll’s trousers and hat (crochet)

Crochet is an easy way of making dolls’ clothes.

In an earlier post I shared a picture of a doll I am attempting to dress.  I was not at all happy with the dress I made for her.  I decided to complete the dress, but to make some more clothes.  Hopefully, some of these would be attractive.

I had some machine knitting 4-ply Glencraig yarn in a shade of blue called denim.  It would be far easier to crochet a pair of jeans than to sew one in a spare piece of denim fabric.

I did not keep a record of the details of my pattern.  The crochet hook was 2.5mm.  I began by making a chain long enough to go round the doll’s waist.  Then I joined the ends of the chain and used double crochet to construct a tube long enough to go from her waist to the top of her legs.

Without breaking the yarn I marked the midpoints of the back and front.  Then I crocheted a chain for the crotch and continued to make a tube for the first leg.  When the desired length was reached, I finished off and rejoined the yarn at the crotch for the second leg.

The picture shows the trousers without any elastic at the waist.  This can be added if required.

Doll

Cabbage patch doll with crocheted trousers and hat

For the hat I used the yarn double.  I began with a short chain and worked in treble crochet using a 3.0mm hook.  I increased by working two stitches into each stitch of the previous round.  (Mine was more of a spiral, but this did not matter.)  When the diameter was large enough, I changed the direction by working a row of single stitches into the back loop of the previous row.  Then I worked two decrease rows, one in treble and one in double crochet.  Elastic will be needed to make the hat fit better.

My next project will be a T-shirt, probably with long sleeves.  Watch this space!

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Valentine’s Day

Today, in case you haven’t noticed, is Valentine’s Day.  Last year I used a writing prompt about Valentine’s Day and came up with this post.

This year it was a comment I read on a blog, which prompted me to revisit the subject.  Someone commented

 I’m glad we don’t set great store by Valentine’s Day in this country.

I immediately wondered which part of this country she meant.  Last year I mentioned hairdressers’ shop near my home decorating for Valentine’s Day.  Many restaurants also decorate and innumerable couples go out for a romantic meal on or around Valentine’s Day.  In this permissive age I often wonder what people think if it happens to be convenient for me to go out for lunch with a female friend on February 14th!  In the past observant waiters might have noticed our rings, but with so-called equal marriage, that clue is no longer any help.

Valentine’s Day appears in literature too.  The story which springs to my mind is in “Far from the madding crowd” by Thomas Hardy.  I studied it at school (for O-level) and our class went to see the film.  I find Hardy’s books depressing, but this one slightly less so than others I have read.

Although it is a saint’s day, it is not celebrated by Church of England.  In February there is Candlemas, when we remember the presentation of Christ in the temple, and St Matthias’ Day.  He was chosen to be an Apostle after Judas had betrayed Jesus and only eleven Apostles remained. (Acts 1).

Thus there is a gap between February 2 and February 24 with no saints’ days.  Personally I do not object if hubby decides to give me a present on February 14, but for young people the commercialism around yet another date could be a cause of stress and unreal expectations.  By all means have a bit of fun, but don’t spend more than you can afford and if you are single be honest in your dealings with any potential spouse(s).  If you feel overlooked on Valentine’s Day, try not to be sad.  The future may be better than you think.  It may not seem helpful to a young person to know that some people marry for the first time much later in life and are extremely happy in their later years.

This year Lent begins on 18 February (Ash Wednesday).  Shrove Tuesday, when it is traditional to eat pancakes, is the previous day.

What are your thoughts about Valentine’s Day?  Is it important in your locality?