I don't have the traditional result of nine months' waiting since my last post to report... in fact, I'm not sure I've got anything to report at all, beyond Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, Pentecost and umpteen Sundays after Trinity. I should love to see measurable transformation, but that doesn't seem to be how it works. Or am I just looking in the wrong direction?
Eeek, I've not blogged anything for six months. The real world was just too pressing. But with my birthday coming up, it seems right to try again. It's becoming borne in on me that though I believe in vocation, I also have some responsibility in keeping my work-life balance from overflowing and making a nasty puddle on the floor. There will always be far too many things to do - important things, interesting things, necessary things, God-given things. But if I don't want to look back at the end of my life with bitterness, wishing I'd had a better time of it, I need to take responsibility for making that happen rather than being a passive martyr who is Just Too Busy and wants to make everyone else feel guilty because they aren't working as hard. I hope if I'm writing again in six months - and even more, in six years - I can look back over the intervening period with less suppressed resentment and more overt enjoyment.
Last night one of those surreal moments happened that make life worthwhile. I was sitting at the back of a darkened theatre full of arm-waving kids, with a Sunday School teacher on both sides of me, la-laing into each ear an Elton John classic, 'Crocodile Rock' - or, as it had been rebaptised, 'Sunday School Rock' - being 'played' by a bunch of Muppet-like puppets on stage. A local Methodist church (Woodseats Methodist) has a slick puppeteering team (who struggled slightly on a raked stage, but that wasn't their fault) presenting to rapturous Mexican waves of churched children such Christian classics as 'Raindrops Keep Falling on my Boat', 'New Life, New Life' (think Sinatra), 'Hallelujah, it's Fishers of Men' and 'Y Not 2Day?' (about the possibilities of witnessing to Jesus). In case you'd not guessed, the last two are better known even to cultural morons like me as the Queen numbers 'Hallelujah, it's Raining Men' and 'YMCA' - the latter made even more plain by the headgear of the puppets involved. To its target audience, the show went down big. But I was left confused. Do the presenters realise these are gay anthems? Is the musical director a Freddie Mercury fan? Or is this just a bizarre example of cultures passing in the night?
On the bus coming home just now I met an acquaintance who commented on the book I was reading (Hen's Teeth by Manda Scott, in case anyone's interested). That took us into a conversation about thrillers: the Golden Age, detective fiction set in far-flung places or times which gave us a window into very different contexts from our own; favourite authors; Sheffield writers. We were in such animated conversation that before I knew it we had sailed past my stop and I had to walk back. I greatly enjoyed our talk, and felt I knew my dialogue partner better as a result of it. The strange thing is that we are both Christian and both involved in working with homeless people, yet I can't imagine myself talking so enthusiastically on the bus either about Jesus or about housing issues, though for each of us both topics are close to our hearts. I can't see myself saying, 'Oh, you must pray - it's fantastic!' in the same way as I urged him to read Margery Allingham? But why not? Above all, why can't I be as evangelistic about Jesus as I am about Dorothy L. Sayers (who herself was no mean evangelist, though sadly that meant she stopped writing about Lord Peter Wimsey)? I wish I knew.
I'm vaguely wondering about having a site counter on the blog, to see how many hits the site gets. But I rather suspect it's out of vanity/idle curiosity. Why do I need to know? On a similar note, I'm getting a lot of Facebook requests to post 25 random facts about me. And even though this would only be seen by my friends, I find myself twitchy at the prospect. Who needs to know that I once owned a hamster called Baron Rufus von Munchhausen (with a red head and a propensity for eating carpet)? (oops, only 24 facts to go now...) I prefer to be silent and mysterious, at least when I'm talking to numbers of people beyond my control. And maybe I should extend the same privilege to whoever comes across this. Any views, gentle readers?