When the skies are overcast, the weather is mainly damp and cold, and I have nothing in the diary, or no shopping errands to get me out of the house, life becomes very uneventful indeed. It becomes an effort even to get out and walk for a breath of fresh air. I suppose a time of quiet inertia counts as rest and recuperation from the demands of other activities, and earlier this week was fairly busy, but I'm glad to have Sunday duties to look forward to, and a sermon to prepare each week.
This morning I was up early to celebrate the eight o'clock at St Catherine's for a dozen of us, which is double the usual attendance. The Parish has, for the time being, gone to having just one early Eucharist each Sunday instead of two, on rotation between St Catherine's and St John's, hoping that worshippers will travel to where the service is held. I was pleased to see that people were willing to make an effort to go somewhere different. Services on rotation between churches are difficult an alternative to adjust to. I find it harder, as I'm always having to look at my diary and check where I have to turn up next. Yet, in a way, this inconvenience makes the decision to attend regularly much more a conscious one, which can't be bad, failures notwithstanding.
Clare came to St Catherine's too, and got some croissants, pain chocolat and pain au raisin for free on her way home, by using the accumulated points on her Co-op card, which meant we could have a continental breakfast together before I set out for St German's.
When I arrived at church, the grand daughter of one of the regulars arrived with her new born daughter, just 48 hours old. She'd been in church with her other daughter at the midweek Mass several times, as this was normally more manageable for her. On this occasion she made the effort to come, so Grandma could see baby Gayla. I was delighted to have the opportunity to bless both at the end of Communion, and to pencil a date for the Christening into the parish diary. It should be just before the interregnum comes to an end after Easter.
After the blessing at the altar, on impulse, I took mother and baby with me down into the nave, where Communion is given to St German's eldest member Gwyneth in her place, so that she could greet this youngest new churchgoer. One of those irresistible special moments of blessing for the whole church to be part of. Catholicity breathes continuity, across the world, across the generations.
After lunch, I had a quiet afternoon to myself as Clare was attending her study group in Bristol. I switched on too late to watch Ski Sunday, so watched an earlier episode I'd missed, and the latest one on iPlayer. After supper we watched Wagner's 'Das Rheingold' in a fine performance recorded at this year's BBC Promenade Concerts, beautifully produced, wonderful singers and orchestra, and to my mind benefiting from all four scenes being done in continuity, without an interval. The performers were not in period costume but dressed in variety of semi formal attire, which served to distinguish between their roles. The TV production cleverly and judiciously added some atmospheric graphical backdrops to suggest context and mythical environment, but it was left to the skill of the actors to conjure up the scenes with body language and minimal mime. Absolutely marvellous! Gorgeous music, compelling to watch. The whole Ring cycle is to be broadcast. What a treat!
The opera overlapped with the second episode of 'Good Karma Hospital' on ITV, but I discovered that we could watch it on the ITV+1 stream on channel 33, something I'd not done before. It saved having to fiddling about to find it on ITV Player, useful though it is on other occasions. These digitally available repeats make a considerable difference to life, freeing one from the necessity of adhering to the live programmer's broadcast schedule. The telly is made for man, not man for the telly, after all, to borrow the Lord's own phraseology. It wasn't like that forty years ago, when the early evening broadcast of 'The Forsyte Saga' was cited as a factor contributing to the death of evening services. Well, it seemed a good excuse at the time ...