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What I read in April 2017

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Apart from reading extra blog posts during the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I also finished reading five books. Regular readers of this blog may be glad to see that normal service has now resumed with hopefully one post a week.

Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury is particularly suitable for reading during Lent. I began reading it in March and finished it before Easter. I found it interesting, but not altogether what I expected. I have recently heard of a similar book by John Ortberg, which perhaps concentrates more on things than money. It would be interesting to compare the two books. It would also be interesting to look at Dethroning Mammon with a group of people. Reading it while resting after lunch did not help my concentration!

 

 

I bought The Old Ways a journey on foot by Robert Macfarlane at Wordsworth House. It is part of a trilogy, but can be read on its own. I had not read the earlier books, but thoroughly enjoyed this one. I had walked part of some of the long distance footpaths mentioned at various times, which added to my interest.

 

 

 

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks is a novel set during the Great War of 1914 to 1918, but with some detective work done by a more recent character in the story. It is a very gory book. The plot has variations in pace and all the loose ends are satisfactorily tied up. I enjoyed reading a second-hand paperback copy.

 

 

 

 

 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is an unusual novel having Death as the narrator. It is set in Germany during the time of the Nazis. There are two short books within the book. I had been warned about the language (profanity) in the book, but did not find it was a problem. There are many more important ideas expressed through the telling of this story. Another second-hand paperback I bought.

Waterlog by Roger Deakin is a book which I discovered in hubby’s ‘to read’ pile. It is one of the books featured in Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane. Roger Deakin recorded his experiences during a year or so, when he went “wild swimming” all over the British Isles. He made many literary references.  This book prompted me to try again to read Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson, which I struggled to read it in my teens and gave up. That may require a post to itself. In any case I read it in May!  Waterlog had a great deal about East Anglia, a part of the UK I have hardly visited. However there were other places with which I am more familiar, not least Tooting Bec lido, where I swam a few times in my childhood. It is a well-written book, showing keen observational skills.

So in April I read five books, all of which I recommend.

7

A to Z Challenge Reflections Post 2017

During this year’s challenge I was pleased to revisit some blogs I had found (or whose owners had found me) in previous A to Zs.

I also became aware of some new (to me) participants.

My list may not be complete, but I am adding some notes about each of the links I provide below in the hope that visitors to my blog will find some like-minded bloggers to visit and perhaps follow.

The A to Z Challenge’s founder Arlee Bird blogged about time at http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/

http://mailadventures.blogspot.co.uk/ This is a blog about all things connected with postcards, snail mail and stamps. http://mailadventures.blogspot.co.uk/p/links.html lists many more similar sites.

https://bobscotney.blogspot.co.uk/ Houses some real some not. (Bob is a blogger I began to follow last year). He also blogs about postage stamps each week.

https://sratteberry.wordpress.com/ Shawna completed the A to Z Challenge with aplomb. Her blog was new to me this year.

http://heartofareadywriter.blogspot.co.uk/ Linda blogged about hymns this time. I have been following her blog since a previous challenge.

https://lynnelives.wordpress.com/ Lynne joined the challenge late this year, but caught up and posted photos of her garden. (One advantage of a list-free challenge.)

http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/ Hilary is a veteran blogger. This year she looked at rare breeds of animals and used her imagination for the difficult letters. (Unicorn anyone?)

http://mainelywrite.blogspot.co.uk/ Donna found personalised registration plates and wrote verses- a fun challenge.

http://curiousasacathy.com/ Cathy sketched her way from A to Z.

http://sagecoveredhills.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/aprils-z-challenge-reveal.html Heavenly bodies (i.e. stars)

http://laurelgarver.blogspot.co.uk/ This is the blog of an author. I nearly missed her comment as it landed in spam. She issued a writing prompt each day.

https://wordwacker.wordpress.com/ Haiku word puzzles

https://lunanoctis.wordpress.com/  Natalie found me; she blogged about Musical groups.

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/ A blogger I discovered the first time I did the A to Z. Martha blogged about musicals.

https://seezooeyrun.wordpress.com/ Unlike me Gail is a Mormon. I first encountered her blog, when she A to Z’d about family history, something Mormons are experts at.

https://fortyandfantastique.wordpress.com/a-to-z-april-challenge/ a blogger I admire, this year blogging about the streets of Paris.

https://evelyneholingue.com/ Evelyne chose a French theme again this year – authors.

https://mymorningcupofcoffee.blogspot.co.uk/ Debby blogged about life in the 60s.

https://psaltermark.com/ Mark blogged about the Hebrew Bible.  In some ways his posts and mine complemented each other. There was only one letter for which we chose the same word. That day I had two words! I have been following Mark on Twitter for a while, but our posts were written completely independently.

https://theartisticchristian.wordpress.com/ John has completed the A to Z challenge previously.

I’d also like to thank the following people for their encouragement through the challenge:

Arlee Bird, http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/, Susanne Matthews https://mhsusannematthews.wordpress.com/, Rosemary http://charliebritten.wordpress.com/, Susan http://colormewriting.blogspot.co.uk/ (A to Z on parenting young adults), Captain Jill https://captjillsjourneys.wordpress.com/ (Travel), John Holton, who set up a place for WordPress bloggers to link their posts and did his A to Z on https://thesoundofonehandtyping.wordpress.com/, Donna a book blogger from A to Z http://www.girl-who-reads.com/, Lydia https://lydiahowe.com/ a writer and enthusiastic A to Zer, Beth https://bethlapinsatozblog.wordpress.com/ ,A.J. Sefton Author https://www.ajsefton.com/, Mandy http://blog.youreverydaytraveler.com/, Kaddu http://www.mysteriouskaddu.com/ Liam who posted Photos for the challenge https://othemts.wordpress.com/, Katy trail creations (lovely quilts) https://slfinnell1965.wordpress.com/, Marna https://authormarnareed.wordpress.com/ blogging about mythology in her second A to Z, Cathy http://curiousasacathy.com/ and others, who liked my posts without leaving a comment. Also a supportive follower on Twitter and Mark for numerous retweets.

Without a sign-up list I shared my posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, the A to Z challenge page and associated Facebook page and the A to Z page on WordPress. Google+ was the least effective. It is impossible to tell where exactly on Facebook clicks to my blog originated.

It has been a worthwhile challenge. Whether I shall find the time, inspiration and energy to take part again next year remains to be seen. An list of my A to Z posts is on a page.

I intend to link this post to the A to Z Reflections posts on Monday 8th May.

Reflections of debris caught on a fence

Reflections of debris caught on a fence

My usual mixture of posts will resume on a weekly basis, beginning with What I read in April next Thursday.  I’d like to thank my non-A to Z-ing followers for their patience during April.

If you like my photo, why not visit Sue’s words and pictures?

2

Zechariah’s story

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When I married Elizabeth long ago in the days of my youth, I hoped for children, especially for sons to follow me as a priest. The years passed. I carried out my priestly duties taking my turn in the Temple in Jerusalem. I lost count of the times I prayed for a son and heir.

Eventually I gave up praying. It seemed useless. Elizabeth was making the best of her life without children in a society where married women without offspring were looked down on, pitied or even made fun of.

The day I was struck dumb began like any other. Lots were cast to see which priest would enter the innermost part of the Temple to burn incense. I was chosen. There was nothing to suggest that this would not be a duty like others I had performed many times over the years. Sometimes I felt that God was present in his Temple. Other times, although I knew that this was His house, He seemed more distant. After the time in the innermost part of the Temple, I would return to the other priests and the people, who were praying in the outer part of the Temple and the courts.

On this day, which I will never forget, I was concentrating on carrying out the rituals according to the instructions laid down by our forefather Aaron. Suddenly there was a bright light and I looked up to see a figure standing to the right of the altar of the Lord. I was surprised and not a little fearful. The angel told me that my prayer had been heard and God would grant me my request for a son. He went on to tell me how this son’s birth would be rejoiced over and what kind of life he was to lead.

I couldn’t believe my ears.

No wonder I said the first thing that came into my head: “How can I know this is true?”

The figure told me he was the angel Gabriel. He told me off for not believing what he had told me. He said I wouldn’t speak until my son John had been born. I doubted that too, but when I left the dark enclosed part of the temple and reached the lighter outer parts, I soon discovered to my dismay that he had not been joking.

All the priests and people were clamouring to know what had taken me so long – and I couldn’t tell them.

The following months were the longest in my whole life. Elizabeth did conceive for the first time ever, even though she was past child-bearing age. Her very young cousin Mary came to stay. She too was expecting a son, whose arrival had been foretold by the angel Gabriel. It was a rum do!

My speech was restored to me shortly after John’s birth. When they asked me his name, I sent for a wax tablet and stylus. “His name is John.” They argued with Elizabeth and me, because this was not the name that would have been chosen from our traditions. Suddenly I discovered my speech had been restored. I lost no time in praising God.

The story of the birth of John the Baptist may be found in Luke 1: 5-80

This year for the A to Z Challenge I have taken my 2013 Challenge as a starting point for most of the posts. I have written a post based around something or usually someone from the Bible. Sometimes it is a fictional story, for example when I have added some back stories (as a writing exercise). Sometimes it is a summary.

I hope my readers will be challenged to consider the original texts in more depth. (If only to discover what liberties I have taken with them!)

My Z post from 2013