Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Visit? or Worship

It can cost a goodly number of pounds to enter a Cathedral on a tour, but whatever your reason for going you will find  that it is worth every penny. 

Visiting a Cathedral isn't like visiting some kind of tourist trap surrounded by neon lights advertising the wonders therein. A Cathedral visit won't be the 'Right this way, folks!' experience, and you will never see neon lights. They don't need any. Case in point: Salisbury Cathedral!

Isn't she a gem? Isn't she a beauty? I love this angle of her structure, so immense and imposing in the midst of the town - and anyone can go see her! Such a privilege. Masses of people ought really to be lining up to go inside. Instead, there is a respectable trickle of daily sightseers in and out. 

If you want the real Cathedral experience, the thing to do is to attend a worship service. Choral Evensong is my favorite, featuring the magnificent Cathedral Choir singing right the way through the Psalms and the Gospel, the Confession, the Benediction. Going to a worship service costs nothing in monetary terms. But you will see a depth there, and quite possibly a Calling that might cost you your ego - if you listen well.

It isn't the structure that does this, of course, but the Word of God spoken/sung there, and wherever that happens - be it a tiny Baptist church or a magnificent British Cathedral - we risk the loss of our own selfishness. And that is the miracle.

One day, if I am given the chance, I will visit each Cathedral in the United Kingdom and watch for that miracle at Evensong. Each Cathedral will be abundant in riches and history, artifacts and antiquities. But the moment I'm looking forward to the most is that moment in which the Choir - the men and women, boys and girls - glide up through the Nave and into their candlelit seats to sing their hearts out to the One who made it all happen.

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

Monday, June 19, 2017

Being Noticed

I was invited, kindly, to stay on a boat. This boat was situated amongst other such boats and in a community of boatmen and women who Rock. I say this because they were something almost unknown to me until now, because they have been, until now, out of my sight. But having met them, I will never look at canal boating in quite the same way.

My young hostess and I decided it might be best if I left my suitcase in the Left Luggage compartment at the train station. This turns out to have been hugely wise of us, for dragging it around London, on the Underground and in the current heavy heat wave of London, would not have been very nice. She met me at a Tube station, and walked me away from the busy streets through to lovely parks and bike paths and, at last, to the canal. And there was her boat. There were swans in front of it! "Swans!" I exclaimed. I had heard somewhere that all swans in England belong to the Queen. So I was looking at the Queen's own swans. This was heady stuff.

We only had one day, and decided to make the best of it. 

"Let's take the boat out for a run!" she said. And I, of course, agreed.

I had not thought of being taken out into the canal. It would be perfect! Her friend came along as second shipmate, and we were off. The goal was a Pub down river, where we would sit outside and enjoy the cooling of the evening. As we traveled, a cool breeze comforted our faces and friendly "Hello"'s drifted toward us all along the way.

Quite a stir was created as my two young, blonde, and beautiful companions at the helm were noticed. I do not say that I was noticed, except perhaps as a chaperone, but I did not mind. I didn't want to be noticed. But in a while, we were all three happy to be noticed because - what was this? our boat engine was behaving strangely. It was slowing. It was - stopped! I was not unduly concerned, you know, due to the fact that there were so many young men manning so many canal boats. Sooner or later, one would notice. Soon, one did, and spoke.

"Having any trouble?" he said from his bow.

The two young ladies indicated that, yes, there was some small trouble.

"Maybe I can help," he said, and got out a bag of tools. These tools looked gorgeous to us because they meant that we might get back to our mooring by sundown. He worked away at the engine quite professionally, and soon we heard it springing to life.

"Hurray!" someone shouted. Maybe it was me. 

"Thank you!" said the girls, and the young boatman said that they were quite welcome as we eased back out into the canal. A huge sign saying "Corbyn For Freedom" was strung across the water, proclaiming the feelings of more than one in that boating community. We laughed, and talked about elections and Referendums and things over on my side of the Pond. No conversation in England can be had without at least a glancing mention of those three things. 

The dinner, the ride back, the mooring, and the night spent out along the canal were all a perfect ending to my lovely weeks in the United Kingdom. It was one more 'layer' to add to my already multiple layers of getting to know this place. 

But now my face is looking steadily West, as I climb aboard another gigantic metal tube that will take me home; toward a celebration of 40 years, and someone wonderful's birthday, and lots of people to hug. And more! 

Yes. It is high time.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Sunday, June 18, 2017

It's The Stones

Going to Stonehenge is always interesting because of the things people say as they see it for the first time. The bus left right on time, filled with tourists from America, Germany, and Japan. The driver only spoke one language, but he got on well with those who could not for the life of them understand a word he said. Lots can be expressed through smiling and hand gestures, and he was giving it a real good go.

There were 18 tourists from Japan who were dying to get out to Stonehenge, only they couldn't, not because they had no money, but because they had the wrong kind. It was something to do with the Euro and a mixup on why it wasn't being accepted here. This conversation took a while to plough through because numberless explanations had to be made and understood before any solution had a chance. Somebody must have called somebody else because another official with the company finally sped up on his bicycle and said, "No worries! Boss said just come with me down to the cash point and we'll work it out there." So to the cash point the group's leader went, along with the bicycling official. The bus driver shook his head, and said, "I've never seen Boss do anything like that..but he's a good'n, a right good'n."

Presently the men arrived back at the bus, and peace reigned once more. Tickets were issued, and smiles (with hand gestures) beamed all around. The 18 Japanese passengers trooped on upstairs to the double decker bus deck, obviously happy that their day at Stonehenge hadn't been ruined after all. The bus rumbled on for a time as everyone chatted, but then things became quiet as we made the final curve toward the Henge. A hush descended. There was the sign! Almost magically, the magnificent Stones floated into view. All at once, 18 voices from above roared out with the most appreciative admiration you would ever want to hear. And then they clapped. The rest of us clapped too, for the sheer joy of their joy.

I had been happy enough going to Stonehenge on a warm day overcrowded with summertime hoards, because the thing is always amazing. But getting to hear those blissful people shouting in wonder at the thrill of it all, well, that was like icing on a very big cake.

I'm glad Boss came through for them in the end, aren't you? A good'n that one is, for sure...a right good'n.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady


So sorry, I am in a spot where charging my laptop battery isn't possible! I will continue with you tomorrow.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, June 17, 2017


It's hard to believe, dear Readers, but my calendar confirms it. Tomorrow, June 18, 2017, we will have been married 40 years. And what a gift it has been!

I have to laugh just a bit because when I was a much younger wife, an 'elderly' couple stood up in church to announce that were celebrating their 40th anniversary. I and my friends all thought that they were hopelessly old! We were in awe of all those years, and now, just look. It's happening to me! And I am blessed - not at all 'hopeless'.

When we were just starting out, one day the subject of marriage came up at work in the teacher's lounge. I said something about planning to stay married to my husband 'till death do us part'. Like the marriage vows, you know? My boss scoffed at what he called a 'naive' goal, saying, "You can't know that."

"I can know it," I replied.

"I don't see how anyone can know that they will stay married. It's ridiculous."

"All the same, it is a part of the marriage vow," I continued, as respectfully as I could. He was my boss, after all.

"Well, yes, I suppose it is."

"Did you say that vow when you got married?" I was genuinely interested in his answer.

"..Yes, I - we - did."

"Well, that was a Vow. A promise to be kept. All I am saying is that I mean to keep it, through God's strength."

Over the next several days that conversation played itself over and over to me, and a song sprang up out of me in response. And here it is.

In a time when marriage vows are said
With a thousand good intentions,
And the man and wife give promise to continue to the end,
But in the shadow of their minds, they know there
Just might come a day,
When they'll choose to say goodbye if things wrong.

I shall stay, I will stay with you,
And I'll see you through your young and elder years.
We will face the harder moments through our tears,
But I'll be here, I can't bear to miss one gray or golden year.
-copyright 1981, HeartSongs

I'm so happy to be at that magic number, now - 40. It has a nice ring to it! It has brought fun, and laughter, and knowledge of God, and children, and lovely in-laws, and grandchildren! plus myriads of other sweet things. And we've learned something about vows, too, along the way. The vows we make tend to keep us, as much as we keep them.

And so, Happy Anniversary, my darling. I love you, and it's been an honor. You are still the funniest man I know.

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

Friday, June 16, 2017


I'd arrived early to the station on this, my last day in Cornwall. 'Early' meant that nobody was there yet, but me. I stood and stared out to sea, at the boats, at the sky, at everything, in fact, that is St Ives. It was a rare thing to be alone at the train station, I thought. And then a tweet interrupted my musings. It wasn't one of those fake tweets you'd receive on a phone or an ipad or a laptop. No, I don't like those kinds of tweets anymore. This, my friends, was the real thing, a real tweeting from an actual place near to where I stood. I looked around, and then found it standing, down near my toe. I don't know what kind of bird it was, and even if I did it would probably be called something else altogether, back home. But it sure was a cute little thing.

It danced and hopped around at my feet, very nearly landing on one of them. I was sure it was looking at me, and felt that it might be on a mission, a mission of mercy, tweeting me away from the melancholy that comes of leaving a wonderful place. It hopped and danced around for a long time, entertaining me until the traveling hoards began to descend. You could almost feel the humanity sucking up the air as great gobs of people came tramping, hustling and bustling, and crowding around us. I looked up at them for only a moment, the tiniest of seconds in my distraction - then when I looked down again, my little friend had gone. It was too much for her and she felt she had to go. 

And so, now, must I.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Down in History

I think we were all surprised to see each other there. The church at Paul is, after all, some miles up a narrow hilly road, and accessible only to the determined. This meant that everyone who actually showed up, wanted to show up. There were 8 of us.

The voice choir were seated in a round, at the back of the church, the (Cornish) director's back facing us. We 8 sat in the wooden pews, backs resting against the walls of the church. Each of us had claimed a pew, and rested quite comfortably as they began. There was no wifi in there, so nobody sat with their heads buried in any sort of a screen. We just - listened.

After a while, one gentleman leaned in toward me and whispered, "What is the director saying?" I couldn't believe he had asked the very question I think about every time I go. I replied, "Are you a Brit?"

He didn't directly answer this question, but became distracted and whisper-shouted, "You're a Yank!"

"Shhhhhh," shushed one of the other Roadies.

"Yes," I said, after an embarrassed pause, "which is precisely why I cannot now, nor will I ever be able to, answer your question."

"What question was that?" he asked.

"The question of what on earth the director is saying!" I was beginning to flag. But at least I had settled the question of whether or not this Roadie was a Brit. He was. 

"You're a Brit," I said, and he humbly acknowledged this fact with a bow of the head.

"And you still can't understand the director."

"It is true, I cannot."

The conversation was become burdensome, and so I turned my attention back to the splendid and soaring voices of the Male Voices I had come to hear.

After a while the man tapped my shoulder, and leaned in. "How long have the Mousehole Male Voice Choir been singing?" I stifled a sigh, and wanted to just say I DON"T KNOW. But I did have a bit of information about it, and so I said, "I don't know for sure how long, but they've been here at least since 1960, because their 1960 picture is over on the wall of yonder Pub."

I showed him the picture of the the photograph I had snapped in the pub, which you see on this page. There they all were, nearly 60 years ago looking just as marvelous as this group who were just launching into 'The Rock Island Line'. The younger ones look just as happy and energetic as any in this current choir, and the elders look just as patient. And don't you just love the accompanist? She is so sweet and prim.

The Roadie seemed to run out of things to say, and turned his attention back to the Rock Island Line. I did too, hoping there wouldn't be many more questions to answer. I wanted to think, and to listen. It was the last time for a while that I'd be able to, and I was hoping to savor it. It's terrific to go thousands of miles away and find little treasures like this one, tucked right away in the green hillsides of a small village. A village one may never have heard of but which will go down in History nonetheless.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady