And I've been reading books too. During a time of enforced hanging about yesterday I finally caught up with Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, which has been on my must-read shelf (aka the bedroom chair) for quite a while, and read it from cover to cover in one sitting. It's the harrowing but deeply inspiring story of the author's abusive adopted childhood, her breakdown in adult life and the profound healing which followed, and her quest to find her birth mother. Above all, it's the amazing story of how she found salvation and nurture in the world of words and books. This description is totally inadequate: if you want to laugh, weep and be challenged to see the world differently read it for yourself.
It's dangerous working in a place with an excellent bookshop. I've treated myself to a book of poems: Sounding The Seasons, sonnets for the Christian year by Malcolm Guite - whom I knew in Cambridge and is now Chaplain of Girton, my old college. (So I had to buy it!) A beautiful resource for prayer and liturgy.
Here, as Advent gifts I can pay forward, is a quotation from each. They seem to connect with each other, and with themes I return to in this blog. First, Jeanette Winterson:
When we look up at the sky and the stars we imagine we are looking out at the universe. The medieval mind imagined itself as looking in - that Earth was a seedy outpost... and that the centre was - well, at the centre - the nucleus of God's order proceeding from love.
I like it that order should proceed from love.
And from Malcolm Guite:
Christmas sets the centre on the edge;
The edge of town, out-buildings of an inn,
The fringe of empire, far from privilege
And power, on the edge and outer spin
Of turning worlds, a margin of small stars
That edge a galaxy itself light years
From some unguessed-at cosmic origin.
Christmas sets the centre at the edge.
And from this day our world is re-aligned;
A tiny seed unfolding in the womb
Becomes the source from which we all unfold
And flower into being. We are healed,
The End begins, the tomb becomes a womb,
For now in him all things are re-aligned.