Price Family at New Year: now we are 20
I wasn’t going to write a review of the year 2022 after all nothing much has happened this year, has it? apart from a pandemic, a war in Europe, a recession, three prime ministers and a succession of ‘governments’, none of which has a clue about how to solve the problems of the country, even if they wanted to, after all they and their predecessors caused the problems, but never mind, the rich go on getting richer and richer, so why should the ‘governments’ that have served them so well even care? and that’s without thinking about the impending apocalyptic climate disaster which is what’s most likely to kill us all, so life right now often feels like we’re dancing in the ballroom of the Titanic, but hey, Strictly Come Dancing is the most popular programme on British TV, so there can’t be much wrong with the human race can there?
Yes, I am feeling a tad sad and angry and depressed about the state of the world and the nation, and who isn’t? If you’re not feeling that, you probably haven’t been awake this year. But just when I’m tempted to start really wallowing, I try to remember the wise words of the great prophet Gandalf:
‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’
What is given to us, in our time when the country and the world are so very broken, is to try little by little – and what we can do usually feels like it is so very very little – to mend the broken bits we can mend. And hope. Hope that others will do the same. And even if we are all doomed, to go on hoping for as long as hope remains.
So, here in Thame, in our little corner of the world repair shop, Alison and I go on doing our very very little bit. Alison continues to enjoy being a member of the Community of Aidan and Hilda, and joins members of the community on Zoom each week for prayer and encouragement, as well as Zoom daily prayer with members of our parish church each weekday morning.
I am still allowed to officiate at the 8 o’clock BCP Holy Communion service once a month (sometimes more often, like a run of two for this Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, which falls on the feast of The Circumcision of Christ), and at St Catherine’s Towersey for their Common Worship services. Small congregations, but they seem to like me. They keep asking me back, anyway.
We’ve ventured out of Thame a few times for weekends and holidays – nothing abroad, yet. In March we went to Salisbury for a weekend for Alison’s MA graduation. It was one of the nicest graduations I’ve been to, because most of those receiving awards had been studying Theology at Sarum College, so it was appropriate for the awards ceremony to be a Christian service. Held in the church of St Thomas, with its astonishing Doom painting over the chancel arch. The speaker was Dr Eve Poole, who talked about how Theology was the best subject to study, in fact the only necessary subject, because it knows how to deal with the soul; and the soul is the only thing that differentiates human beings from Artificial Intelligence. This will become even more essential, the way that technology and communications are developing.
I am really missing Alison’s MA, and in particular her dissertation on A Spirituality of Child-Bearing. We had so many great conversations and discussions about this, while she was researching and writing it. It called into question – no, I would even say it undermined or exploded – many aspects of Christian theology and practice, or of Church teaching. They weren’t always things we really, really, believed; quite a few of them were things we were already, to say the least, uncomfortable with. For example, the doctrine of Original Sin, and its Calvinist extension of total depravity. The almost Gnostic dualism of much Church teaching, which denies the body and prioritizes the spirit, so that virginity and celibacy are prized above marriage. The emphasis on asceticism, fasting, and self-denial, instead of grateful enjoyment of all life’s good things. Most of the theories about the Cross, and how atonement works. And especially (of course) patriarchy, the suppression of women, the denial of their gifts. Because almost all the other things I’ve listed either flow from, or lead to, the monstrosity of patriarchy.
After all those years of Alison being connected with Sarum College, it was hard to sever the connection. So I have been taking courses there: a week’s intensive Introduction to Biblical Hebrew in August (wonderful, mind-blowing, hopefully ongoing), and a series of one-day courses on Reading Scripture Together, in which a Sarum staff member and a rabbi look at Bible passages and discuss the different ways our two faiths understand them.
We’ve taken a couple of short English holidays. In May we spent three nights in Lincoln, a city we have never visited before (can you believe it?) It’s hilly, but you probably know that. And we would recommend the pizza restaurant Dough LoCo, which not only serves great pizzas but also has an inspiring story. It started as a result of one couple baking pizzas for their neighbours during the first pandemic lockdown, from which a restaurant grew as if by magic. We were by far the oldest customers when we went there. But that seems to be happening more and more often, I can’t imagine why. Then drove on to York for 6 nights, exploring the city and driving out to explore some of the Yorkshire abbeys, including a day in Whitby which is always fun. Talks about Dracula among the abbey ruins… I wonder what St Hilda would make of that?
At the end of September-beginning of October we stayed on Holy Island, stopping in Durham on the way to revisit some old favourites:
Holy Island is always wonderful, of course, and we were lucky to have fine weather. It is so blissful when the tide comes in and the day visitors depart, leaving the island in peace.
On the return south we stopped in Chesterfield for one night. It’s a town that has seen better times, but the restaurant we enjoyed was the Sicily Restaurant where there really was an authentic taste of Sicily: friendly welcoming staff who were ready to advise about food and wine.
We’ve had times staying with Martha and Paul in their ‘new’ home in Frome, and with Esther and David in Suffolk. Naomi in Haddenham is the nearest of the children, so there’s rather more popping backwards and forwards, and fewer (i.e. no) overnight stays.
Oh, and we got COVID. After managing to avoid it for over two years, we caught it in June – at church! – when they started to lift restrictions. Neither of us had it very badly, but a couple of weeks later Alison began to show symptoms of Long Covid. We were out for a walk when her legs suddenly gave way. She didn’t faint, she just fell down. This was pretty scary and led to whole batteries of tests, MRI scans, ECGs and what not, to make sure she didn’t have anything really nasty. Naturally our imaginations supplied a long list of what really nasty could entail. (Stroke, heart disease, brain tumour etc. etc.) They found no signs of Any Of The Above, but neither could they explain what Alison did have. The likeliest guess was that Long Covid can sometimes cause sudden drops in blood pressure. Since Alison’s familial high blood pressure is well controlled by medication, the result of these sudden drops was falling over. And the workaround was tinkering with the doses of her blood pressure meds to try and get it right. Since then she is greatly improved in the sense that her ‘normal’ blood pressure became higher, she’s not falling down any more. But she still gets very fatigued if she forgets not to overdo things, she occasionally suffers dizziness which could make renewing her driver’s licence problematic, and she has the ‘brain fog’ that many people report as a lingering after-effect of the virus.
That’s enough of this, I guess. I’ll save reports about some of what we’re currently doing for another post. Perhaps.