I match my brother’s long strides on the way to the old post office, walking through the small paths that connect the main streets of the village. Over the tops of ancient walls, I see the asymmetrical rooftops of equally ancient houses and the tops of the shrubs and trees that fill their gardens. Gardens like these fed the imagination of my childhood and were often the theme of the stories I loved to read. In these stories, magical moonlit journeys into the past occured after midnight, and children met other children who lived hundreds of years ago.
We emerge beside the village hall, in a part of the village that has buildings from every century since Tudor times. The street is abuzz with people running early morning errands. An elderly man, shopping bag in hand, stops in mock surprise at the sight of Rob, looks down at his watch and says, “It’s only half eight,” and Rob fills in the gap for him, “A bit early for the shock of seeing an ugly face like mine?” and the man laughs and nods his head in agreement. Later we pass another friend of Robs who says it is time to, “Get a nice cup of tea down me neck.”
Back at home, Rob goes through his morning routine of making sure that Mum is warm enough and is drinking enough, as well as giving little prompts to help her remember to do things she might forget. Mum occasionally takes command of us and Rob laughs and says, “Mum still puts her slipper down with a firm hand. Don’t be fooled by that bit of fur around her feet.”
Banter, mock insults, humour and laughter; they are ingrained into the culture here and they brighten the gray of the encroaching winter and the gloom of impending hard recessionary times.
It is almost time to start my journey home to Canada after two weeks here in Alvechurch. I have not done much but “simply be” with Mum and Rob and enjoy a couple of visits from close friends, as well as read a little, reflect a lot, and knit a sweet little summer-green sweater for one of my granddaughters. These pleasures were decadently, deliciously, quiet and simple, and gratitude fills my heart for every moment.
1 Timothy 6:6-8 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
6-8A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough.