Valentine Joy!

It is raining on the snowdrops.

It’s a very unremarkable kind of mild day, where I can turn the weekend events over in my mind, mentally mineralising the memories into my spirit as I walk the dog through the dripping woods and marvel.

This is Joy on very different levels. The laughing kind; the serendipities where I sense God’s manifold humour sparkling on the edge of the dimly perceived mirror, and the deeper, quieter, ‘syfrdanol’ kind.

Thank you letter type prayer starts polymerising, but that’s for a little later.

Last night was our Valentines meal together, and with such a busy schedule we didn’t have some great idea about where. To me, the anticipation of the date was like a picture of a big, squashy sofa and a glass of wine, and I wanted it to be Saturday evening not Tuesday, the alternative because the squashiness of the sofa would be limited by work stresses on Monday and Wednesday.

How many people are looking for total chill out moments in their week?

We ended up in ‘A Taste Of India’ in Borth, and arrived in an empty little restaurant with a potentially pleasant atmosphere, for Borth. We were directed to the table for four by the window and brought popadums.  I waited for the circulation to return to my hands, frozen from sitting doing accounts in our chilly lounge for my imminent annual inspection by the Organic Control body. We were having an experimental evening and I tried hurrying the warming process with some nose wringing lime pickle! We perused the menu and decided to take a chance with the ‘Indian Banquet’ and the chef’s discretion. Before long our waiter was busy serving our starters, which were very tasty, with special minty sauce. He was eager to tell us about his life as a missionary. He is part of the fellowship of St Matthew’s in Borth but is a Pentecostal himself. I thought my jewellery didn’t offend him, though. We thought it would be lovely to come with Nina, Shedrack and family. The high and lowlight of the evening  was the bizarre background music! In fact it was the music which inspired me to blog it! The problem of creating atmosphere conducive to relaxed chatting in restaurants that are empty but for one couple can be solved easily by background music, so it was a good move when the waiter put the radio on, albeit a bit wheezy. He fiddled with it for a while and managed to cajole from it something that sounded like a reporter in a war zone rapping across a bad phone reception, and as that was all that could be sifted from the ether, he left it at that. After a short while the restaurant had filled up with what seemed to be a relaxed and regular clientèle, and perhaps perceiving this, the rapper down the line hung up, leaving nothing but an intense hissing and crackling. We were a little distracted by this and snatched glances at other diners to see if they were at all put off by it. By all appearances everything continued as normal and we persevered with our conversations. The restaurant manager came over as we finished our starter and asked if everything was alright. I too hurriedly asked if maybe the radio could be retuned and he smiled graciously and switched it off, as he carried our plates away. “Oops,” I thought, ” If he didn’t like me saying that without first thanking him for the lovely first course, I may be in for a  taste of his displeasure next!” On the contrary, we were treated to such an amazing feast of delightful  dishes and delicious naan bread that we continued trying to work our way through them all well after we felt replete!When we were finally defeated by the banquet we asked for the bill and our missionary brother came and began working out with us how our doggy bag could best be packed! As I’m vegetarian, some things couldn’t be mixed, and when that puzzle was solved and the bill paid we were presented with a large paper bag full of perfectly wrapped parcels of delicacies. As we flumped hugely into the car, we laughed at ourselves for forcing so much food into our drum tight bellies, as we’d have a bigger lunch the morrow if we’d stopped sooner and at a more comfortable stage of full! However, all in all the evening was a great giggle and the chippy left with the manager wringing his hand and saying to leave his card, in case his help was needed with renovations to the premises beginning next month.

This morning we were privileged to have Dr David Ceri Jones preaching from Peters 1st Epistle, Chapter 1, in St Michael’s church Llandre. We Christian’s are supposed to have this ‘unspeakable’ or ‘inexpressible and glorious  joy’ because we live in the company of Jesus despite the trials we experience today. It was so apt a word as we now have in our sights the arrival of a new incumbent, Rev Peter Jones with his wife Carol and daughter, Elen.  We had been told that they would be coming to meet the congregation today, and so I wanted to be there. I am so delighted to discover that there will be this new opportunity for growth and spiritual reality being lived and breathed and explored right here in Llandre. Part of the outcome of being so eager to meet and discuss hopes for us was that it seemed as if I was being ridiculously demanding, and poor Peter, who isn’t beginning his ministry here till May, asked me at one point how long I was giving him for all these transformations to take place! It’s just that I wouldn’t have dared to hope we could have that conversation with a minister in this church. Shame on me, but now, all the more, joy and hope! I can’t claim not to be biassed but I thought the hope was tangible. Not in the singing though, which was as dismal as usual! I am genuinely thrilled for Roger, who seemed to have a huge smile on his face whenever I glanced in his direction, and for Doreen his wife. They have worked tirelessly through all the years when the  only the lights of hope were in their souls and the eternal promises, none were in outward circumstances.

I walked home through the rain with a smile on my lips and became aware of the little green clio at the bottom of our lane, with my husband waving to me as I approached. I literally jumped for joy as I explained that David had told me to go and listen to Peter Jones on the Hubberstone web site, and what a great preacher he is. I have just done that. Yes, there is much to be thankful for and to pray about and to celebrate.

Now I’m going out again to enjoy the rain with the snowdrops.

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