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Ash Wednesday

Yesterday was Pancake Day.  Anyone who didn’t notice must have been taking time away from all sorts of social and other media!  Its real name in the UK is Shrove Tuesday.  Another blogger has explained the reason for this.

Shrove Tuesday is followed by Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  This word Lent has nothing to do with borrowing or lending, but comes from an old word meaning spring.  It is a season lasting 40 days plus Sundays before Easter.

There are other important days at this time of year.  Mothering Sunday and Palm Sunday have their own traditions.  In the UK many people call Mothering Sunday “Mother’s Day” (not on same date as in the United States of America).

Just before Easter we have Maundy Thursday, the day we remember the Last Supper, which gave us the service known variously as Holy Communion, the Eucharist or Mass.  The following day is Good Friday, then Low Saturday and Easter Sunday.

So today is Ash Wednesday.

If you have met anyone with a sooty mark on their forehead, they have been to a church service where the imposition of ashes was offered.  It is a way of witnessing to people that the Christian faith is important to them.

I am not entering into any debate about whether the imposition of ashes or ashing is a good thing or not – just mentioning that it happens.  I am rather amused by the appearance on Twitter of a new hashtag for today –  #ashtag is accompanying Tweets and selfies.

There is a post, which is well worth reading on the God and Politics blog.  I have little to add to it.  I used to give things up for Lent.  Once I gave up sugar in tea and never needed it again.  Later I started to try to be more disciplined in my Bible reading and prayer.  The rationale for giving things up is that Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days and nights.  Matthew 4:1-11

Last year the vicar asked me if I was going to do anything extra for Lent, but I thought I was already at full-stretch!  This year I hope I can manage my time a bit better than of late and perhaps write more.

I am planning to attend a service of Holy Communion this evening.  I shall not be ashed.  I’m not sure whether it will even be an option.  (The ash is produced by burning palm crosses from the previous year.)

Another important date this week is Friday, which is the day known as the Women’s World Day of Prayer.  There will be a service for it in the village where I live.  Perhaps I’ll write a post about it later.

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Shrivel or grow?

Daily wisdom – shrivel

This is the first time I have responded to Sound Eagle’s invitation to link to the daily wisdom page.

There are six categories:

Linked posts have to be inspired by one of these.

I am writing about the Word of the day.

Shrivel

This morning I spent my usual early morning time in Bible reading and prayer.  I use New Daylight from the Bible Reading Fellowship.  Today the passage was from Jeremiah and the notes were written by Margaret Silf.  The image of a tree putting its roots down into water was considered to be like us putting roots deep into God so we might grow and bear fruit.  Jeremiah 17:7-8

Next I logged into WordPress and browsed through the new posts on the Blogs I followRoll away the stone’s post was also about growth.

The concept of growing by being rooted in God, reminded me that Jesus claimed to be the vine, “I am the vine and you are the branches.”  Roots are usually out of sight.  There is a visible part of a vine, perhaps.  God has revealed himself to us through Jesus.  This is a constant theme in the writings of St John.

Arlee Bird’s Sunday post, which I had not found time to read until today referred to Psalm 139 – a particular favourite of mine, because a friend used it to help me recover from a bereavement.  The Bottom of a Bottle also had a post referring to a different verse in the same psalm.

This Psalm talks about our inability to hide from God’s presence.  Where can I go from your presence? (Verse 7)

So how am I relating this to the word for the day?

Anyone who has ever observed plants will know that they either grow or shrivel.

They may be dormant for a season, but usually they are growing or shrivelling.

Are you dormant?  Time to wake up!

Put your trust in God and water your seed of faith.  He does not desire that you shrivel, but that you should grow and produce fruit.  The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Since I started writing this post, I have been out to the ladies’ Bible study.  I seem to have acquired the role of picking a hymn or chorus to sing.  Today I arrived with hymn books, but nothing in mind.  I opened the words only copy at random and saw a song I liked, but the one next to it jumped out at me.  We sang, “Fear not, rejoice and be glad” about God pouring out his Spirit.   It also links with growth of fig trees and the Church and is relevant to the passage we were studying from 2 Samuel.  The author is Priscilla Wright Porter.

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An outing by train

Our local railway operator experienced a number of problems last year with cancelled trains.  I was one passenger who received travel vouchers as an apology for a disrupted journey.

Last week I decided to make use of the remaining voucher by travelling to city shops.

I set off mid-morning.  There was no-one I knew on the station and I chose a seat, which should have been at a table, except that the table was missing!

I travelled a fair distance before anyone joined me there.  The lady who sat diagonally opposite me had a magazine to read.

At first I looked out of the window, but once the train moved inland I spent some time reading a modern translation of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.  It is a wonderful book full of promises from God.

I arrived at the terminus and left the station on a beautiful sunny day and walked to the most distant shops I intended to visit.  Then I worked my way back towards the station.  After visiting the indoor market and a shop, I stopped for lunch in a small restaurant.  It was fairly busy and a waitress sat me at a table where an older lady was eating her dessert.  (We were both consulted before I sat down.)  We had a friendly conversation before she went on her way leaving me to finish my light lunch.  She had visited the place where I live once and liked it.

After lunch I went to buy buttons for a child’s jumper.  I had enlarged the neck opening in case it made it easier for dressing and undressing.  I found some suitable buttons in the nearest shop and noted for future reference that the fabric display was very attractive.

Next I went to a well-stocked hobby shop and rummaged (ratched, in local dialect) in the bargain basket. One ball of yarn looked particularly useful, so I bought it.

I had consulted the on-line catalogue of the county library and discovered that the only books by an author I have “met” online were in the local studies library.  So I visited the library and enquired.  The books were found for me by one assistant, while I chatted with another.  She asked about my fairisle jumper.  I told her about my blog post!  She also asked whether I had come far.  (I do not have a local accent!)  I explained where I live and about the travel voucher.  The other assistant, who had missed our conversation, suggested that the only way to read the reference copies was to call in every day and read a chapter.  The fare would buy a book!

After that I wandered not quite aimlessly round the women’s departments of two large stores.  Then I visited the Oxfam shop, where I found a book I could not resist.  I’ll have to add it to my references page on Sue’s considered trifles.  It is The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs (1999).  It is in excellent condition and will be useful for research.

Hubby had asked me to look for a storage box similar to one I had bought in May, when I used my other travel voucher.  The shop had no boxes anything like the one he already had.  However there was a large pile of much larger boxes – collapsible cardboard ones.  They were on special offer with a price for two boxes, but they were rather heavy.  I weighed them up (both ways).  I could carry them to the station, but not home up the hill.  However they were attractive and could be very useful.

I bought two and contacted hubby from the train for a lift home from the station!

The sun was low in the sky for the return journey and I sat with my back to it and to the direction of travel.  It lit up the landscape and in particular the rocks on the beaches, where the tide was now low.  I also saw two immobile herons in a river near the railway line.

The distant hills were crisp against the sky, but there was a low cumulus cloud below the skyline.

It was a great day out.