Sunday, 28 November 2010

Advent arrives

Friday afternoon brought us snow and temperatures have been low enough for the white mantle to remain over Llandaff Fields, and make the footpaths treacherously icy here and there ever since. We walked under blue skies through the snow to the Cathedral Sung Eucharist today. Archbishop Barry celebrated and preached. He was on good form after a fortnight's holiday and looked pleasingly well for one whose job is so unenviably demanding.

This evening, I went to St John's for the Advent Carol service, and saw many old friends. Clare attended the equivalent Welsh language service at Eglwys Dewi Sant the other side of the city centre. Afterwards, I walked over there to join her so we could walk home together. Like St John's, people there are warm, open and friendly. Clare is in her element there, speaking Welsh. I feel a bit like I did when I was first in francophone social engagements in Geneva, a bit out of my depth and striving to follow, and say the right things. 

The trouble is, as Clare reminded me, contemporary informal Welsh has changed the way people interact. I understand a fair amount of vocabulary from what I learned in earlier decades, but don't always grasp how it's used, let alone know how to respond. It's one of those phases in language learning that has to be endured without knowing how long it'll take before a shift in comprehension, and confidence takes place.  At Dewi Sant people are gracious in the way they accept my limitations. They don't hesitate to speak to me in English if my nerve fails.

It's not such a bad thing for me. It reminds me of the need to listen more, and be humble in any effort I make to communicate.

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