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Too busy to see

| Simon Bale | Vicar's Blog

I had a very relaxing and enjoyable week of annual leave last week. It began after a lovely Evensong at Stoke St Gregory, where Robert Dunning spoke to everyone about the value and meaning of our history (it was the archive weekend, you will recall). Robert was a reader in the benefice, and is a specialist in the local history of the area. He reminded us and enlightened us about so much we may have forgotten or never even known.

Then, a week of staycation (yes… I said it… apologies if the term offends anyone). We visited family, we sat down and drank tea and coffee. We did a bit of tidying and DIY. I dug a hole in the ground for a flower bed and I mowed the lawn. All very low key, and yet, all very memorable. Not because of anything “momentous” but because it was entirely not momentous. Just… there.

On one day we went with my father-in-law for a walk. He is living with fairly advanced dementia and his medium term memory is very poor. He has many memories of his earlier life (he’s 88 this year) and relates them to us, each time with a newness and enthusiasm that I find up-lifting. To him small memories become huge and he can go around these same memories time and again each time excited by them. He is fun to be with once you’ve grasped his way of remembering. He was so pleased to be out and about for the day, and he told us this all through the day, until he returned home and immediately forgot where he’d been. And that doesn’t matter.

So many times we are encouraged to “life for the moment!” Carpe diem! is the cry. Sieze the day! And we all say, “Absolutely!” and then bemoan that things aren’t like they used to be or that, as Private Frazer would say, “We’re all doomed!”

Seizing is a striking idea. It’s energetic and I wonder if we are seduced by the dramatic urgency of the act of seizing something. My week “off” was anything but. I did lots of things but none of them were historically momentous. Yet, I seized the day. When the distant ancestors of Stoke St Gregory got married and wrote their names in registers I suspect none of them thought they were seizing the day. And yet, here we are, five hundred years on recollecting the actions of long gone people. Seizing the day doesn’t have to be anything more than noticing you are free to do as you please, in the moment. Living in the now. Pausing and noticing you’ve paused.

Dwell in that feeling of the moment. Enjoy the hole in the ground. Notice the leaf on the tree. And be sure that you have seized the day.