I am very short of sleep.
Last night as I was pulling myself together (later than planned, of course) to take myself and the domestic fauna back to the cottage* I noticed that Darkness was licking his lips a lot. This is not a good sign. But I hadn’t seen him swallow anything suspicious before I got there to take it AWAY from him and I wasn’t expecting trouble.
While I was ferrying paraphernalia from kitchen to front door, he threw up—extensively—all over the mat. GREAT. WONDERFUL. I’M SO GLAD I HAVE DOGS.**
I cleaned up, describing aloud all the other things I could be doing with my life if I didn’t have HELLCRITTERS. Then I let hellhounds out. They have a pee and then jump in Wolfgang. We have our final after-midnight hurtle at the cottage after I’ve hauled all the kit indoors again.
Last night Darkness headed for the courtyard gate . . . and kept going. It’s Bloody Silly o’clock in the morning, right? I can’t just yell at him under all Peter’s neighbours’ bedroom windows. So I sprinted after him, stage-whispering violently. He stopped, looked at me . . . and kept going.
I eventually got hold of him, dragged him reluctantly back to Wolfgang, let go . . . and the frelling mutt took off for the gate again. This time, when he let me catch him again, I didn’t let go. I hauled him back through the front door, fetched his and Chaos’ leads, and hooked him up.*** Then we all took off through the gate. We got to the main road . . .
Geysering ensued. I will spare you the graphic details.
I had, after cleaning up the first eruption indoors, given him his first dose of homeopathic Ars Alb, the classic dietary-indiscretion remedy. Darkness will have eaten the end of someone’s tossed-into-the-hedgerow sandwich† or equivalent, which ARRRRRRGH happens now and again. Depending on how severe the expulsions are, I will keep giving him Ars Alb till I can see him stop worrying. He must feel pretty grisly, but he’s also a clean dog and doesn’t like making messes.††
I was up very late, poking Ars Alb into Darkness. Who eventually relaxed. Whereupon we all went to bed.††† Finally.
This morning Darkness, predictably, had what I call colic, which is cacophonous internal rumblings, and which mean in effect that he’s not going to eat and nothing on this earth is going to make him eat. Aaaaaand if he doesn’t eat, by the end of the first day his coat will already be staring and his ribs sticking out and he won’t eat tomorrow either, and . . . Missing even one meal with these guys is an emergency because their digestion is so crazy.
I pulled out the homeopathic Lycopodium. And started poking that into him, waiting to hear the roaring begin to subside. Which it did, eventually. Whereupon he ate lunch—and dinner—and his ribs are rather more prominent than they should be as a result of missing (or losing, depending on how you want to look at it) two meals, probably only I the paranoid and accountable hellgoddess would notice, and he’s bright and shiny-eyed and, I hope, fine.
Homeopathy works. I don’t proselytise for it because I haven’t figured out a good way to do so, a way that I’m happy with. Although most of my friends could tell you I’m a bit of a bore on the subject, and I’m always encouraging people to buy a homeopathic first-aid kit and learn to use it, homeopathy is a very big, complicated subject, and it starts getting big and complicated fast right after ‘Arnica for bruises’. It’s a fascinating study but it can take over your life, and unless you’re very lucky you will have to do it mostly on your own—even if you go to school (I did), even if you keep going to seminars (I still do, although not many lately), still, when you’re away from specific homeopathy-related gatherings, you’re probably winging it the best you can. If you and your friends, family and critters are lucky in your good health, and you only ever have to deal with bruises and strains and the occasional head cold, you’ll have the slack to work out what pattern of remedies works for which person—because homeopathy is all about choosing an individual remedy for an individual person‡, and six people with eczema or hay fever or flu will need six, or twelve, or eighteen different remedies. In a society accustomed to ‘take two aspirin and call me in the morning’ the individual thing makes it look like it doesn’t work. It does work. But finding and prescribing the right remedy at the right time . . . is very often an epic ratbag.
Homeopathy isn’t for everyone. But it is worthy of respect. From everyone.
I have been f*cked over by the medical establishment so many times and in so many ways I admit I’m not entirely sane on the subject. And therefore my hair-trigger about morons taking pot shots at homeopathy is even hairier than my tendency to go nuclear about things generally. I stay alive by avoiding as much of the controversy as I can. ‡‡ But I do belong to a homeopathic mailing list ‡‡‡ and I am aware of the so-called science-based skeptics waving their jousting sticks at us.
So here’s a link to a letter a scientifically-trained homeopath wrote in response to . . . one of those morons. He knows how to argue. He also knows how to call a moron a moron.
* * *
* Which is like moving house . . . every night.
** It is a ratbag when you have promised God to moderate your language at least somewhat AND IT’S BLOODY SILLY O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING SO YOU CAN’T EVEN SHOUT.
*** Pavlova wasn’t happy either. This is not how late nights are supposed to be organised. She’s a member of the team! And they’re leaving her behind!^ Woe! Woe!
^ And the hellgoddess doesn’t even seem disposed to leave a little food to comfort the exile!
† If I ever catch anyone doing this, I will Kill. Them. It also attracts rats, you know? How many ways can you be stupid?
†† He’d like making them even less if he had to clean them up.
††† This morning they couldn’t WAAAAIT to get out of their crate, and I thought oh, pond scum and warthogs, I stopped the Ars Alb too soon after all and there are horrors in that crate. But there weren’t. But the wind was in the north-west, which makes the eaves yodel like banshees, and apparently up off the end of what human ears can hear the hellhounds are being traumatised by goblin bards. So they spent what remained of this morning (and some of the early afternoon) pressed against the dog-gate by the front door and waiting for the world to end.
‡ Or critter. But it’s illegal in the UK to treat any animal but those that belong to you unless you’re a licensed vet.
‡‡ Also I can’t debate/discuss/deliberate to save my life. I’m like, look, read up on it and make your own mind up, okay? Do your homework and leave me alone. I have a lot of reading to do myself.
‡‡‡ Most of them professional. But a lot of us lay homeopaths are lay homeopaths because we can’t find a professional to treat us. You need a bit of an individual fit with your homeopath too.
Yes, the Purcell. And yes, we sang it. And yes. Twelve Saints and a Hedgehog is COOOOLD. Jeepers jeepers jeepers jeepers. Cold-duh-duh-duh-duh.
So, yes—I got there. And . . . cough cough cough, shuffling of feet . . . it was, um, pretty easy. Peter last night kept saying, you’ll recognise it, we did it dozens of times, you come off the main road at Trollfall, turn left at the cat (the tortoiseshell, not the tabby, it’s easy to get them confused at car speed), take the fork toward Middling Dinglebeech and just keep going. You’ll know you’re on the right road because you’ll pass the Goat and Necktie.
The Goat and Necktie is on that road? I said. Oh . . . dear.
The final roundabout will say Smedley-on-Cucumber, Peter went on encouragingly, and there you are.
Sure. Yes. And the moon is made of compacted cider pomace.
So last night I got to bed early. Early! Early! Cha-cha-cha! —And then I couldn’t sleep. Of course. When the alarm went off I couldn’t believe it, not least because it was so dark out it looked like dawn hadn’t happened yet. It was throwing it down—rain. HAMMER HAMMER HAMMER. The hellterror was not amused. Crap now or I’ll leave you out here, I said. Maybe she heard the edge of frenzy in my voice. She crapped.*
It was raining so hard the windscreen wipers couldn’t quite keep up and you had to drive slowly because one of those large wobbly elephants wandering through the thick grey mists in front of you might be a real elephant, or at least another car. I’m on a hill, but between my cul de sac and the next village there’s a lot of downhill, and Wolfgang and I had bow-waved through three little fords by the time we got to the main road. If it goes on like this I may just turn around, I thought. I might swim for Beverly Sills** but not for just any excellent, well recommended vocal coach who is willing to take on a church-full of amateurs.
Just after the turn past the cat*** it stopped raining. I did recognise the road, and the Goat and Necktie was right where it should be.†
Except for the COOOOOOOLD, did I mention it was COOOOOOLD?, the seminar was fun and probably useful.†† At my level of attainment all opportunities to sing in company, and, better, all opportunities to sing in well-conducted company are to the good. But with reference to my lack of attainment, I had never sung any of the music before, which was a trifle frustrating, although I suppose it was good for my picking-it-up-in-a-hurry skills. I did wonder why we weren’t told in advance what we were going to attempt, but my guess would be it’s because she doesn’t know what kind of a group of 100 random singers she’s going to be facing and needs to hear us first.††† We were issued two booklets of highlights of the choral repertoire and did a page of Mozart and a couple of pages of Brahms . . . and the Purcell. And a lot of singing exercises. I liked the singing exercises: I know where I am with singing exercises—there are fewer things to remember and I concentrate better.
Then I came home.‡ The road looked familiar in the other direction too.
. . . And now I have to go back to work. Monday is soon.
* * *
* She received an indecently large breakfast as reward. Which then about halfway through the seminar I started worrying about. The dogminder took the hellhounds out as I was leaving—they weren’t amused either—and took her nibs out after that. It was still going to be three-plus hours before I got home.
** Who died in 2007. Just by the way. And while Nadia keeps making vague threats about organising a master class with her teacher^ and I would sign up like a shot, I would NOT sing for him, but I would gratefully pay to sit in. I should poke around and see if there are any recordings of Sills’ master classes. Although . . . Simon Boccanegra was on Radio 3 on Thursday, and I was listening to those voices on the way to Muddle rehearsal and thinking, this may be counterproductive. It’s possible that listening to a Beverly Sills master class would have the same effect.
^ which plan I think is probably now on hold till her kids are in school
*** For anyone who doesn’t recognise it, I stole this out of Gaiman and McKean’s THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH. It’s one of my favourite lines and I steal it a lot.
† Until I arrived on Smedley’s high street and . . . there was no sign for Church Road. Fortunately there was a small invisible sign saying church which made itself known to me telepathically and, Guided By A Spirit Not My Own, I made the correct turn and arrived at the correct church. Which is how I know someone else was driving using my hands. I don’t do things like this. I get lost. Even when the signs are there.
†† It’s a bigger church than St Frideswide. So it may have been even colder, although there were a hundred of us breathing warm steamy air into the atmosphere instead of around twenty.
††† Because I am thick as a brick, I managed to sit with the altos, so by the time I scuttled to join the sopranos I was inevitably on the edge, with the basses thumping in my ear and everyone else as through a glass, um, darkly. But our fearless leader-for-the-day was very taken with the tenor section and swapped them out for moving the altos closer in so she could stimulate them to greater enthusiasm. Us sops, eh. Everywhere but at the Muddles sops are superfluous to requirements. We were by some margin the largest section. But at least some of us were the real thing, and not just hiding where the melody usually hangs out, because our top notes sounded pretty nice. Those of us who knew where they should come because they knew the music.
‡ And no one had crapped in her crate.
I have a small furry demonspawn hellterror under my feet again as I write. It’s very distracting, being lifted off your chair by small but intense volcanic eruptions at ankle level. The accompanying sound effects are pretty discommodious too. The footwarmer aspect is appealing, but the staying-on-top-of-the-rolling-beachball skill is challenging. I’m improving though. And she’s getting bigger. What do you do with a two hundred pound Mastiff puppy in a strop? Straitjacket?*
I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. I doublelock and throw bolts and things anyway because I lived a long time in major cities as a single girl, and some instincts, once dug into the synapses, are permanent.** Also, paranoia is one of my gifts. This is only sometimes a good thing. I am so freaked out by the dog-theft warning that last night I shot awake every time a hellhound rolled over, convinced that I was hearing dog thieves.*** Yes, my doors and windows are all locked, but as the cops and the ex-military life-skills coaches like to tell you, someone who really wants to get in can get in. The trick is to be less worth it than you are a pain in the ass to crack. Two middle-aged hellhounds, an admittedly glamorous (if stroppy†) bull terrier puppy and a lot of books don’t sound like a fabulous haul to me.
The good side of living in the middle of town and being conspicuous (but what dog person, licit and illicit, doesn’t clock every dog in the area) is that you are conspicuous, and you are surrounded by a lot of people who know and recognise you. And my cul de sac is little but crowded. There’s always someone around. There are occasions when I wouldn’t at all mind there being FEWER people in the immediate vicinity. But this isn’t one of them. I hope all my neighbours have restless insomniac visitors until . . . the dog thieves recognise the error of their ways, decide to lead blameless lives hereafter, and enrol for courses in fashion design and farriery.
I was running late this morning, but when am I ever not running late? So, McKinley, relax, situation normal. Since the hellterror started getting her own mini hurtles I’ve been putting the hellhounds in Wolfgang after their full hurtle while the little ’un and I have our scramble. Not today. In the first place it’s TOO COLD†† and in the second place you can’t bolt and barricade a car sufficiently and I imagine the fuel consumption rates on an armoured vehicle are out of my price range. So I brought a somewhat bemused Chaos and Darkness back indoors while I took Mayhem out.†††
This did however mean that we had a welcoming committee when we got back to the cottage, with considerable confusion on all sides since dogs LIKE THEIR PREDICTABLE SCHEDULES.‡ Hellhounds are saying, we’re supposed to be in Wolfgang.‡‡ Pavlova is saying AAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE. Darkness is saying, What are you doing with that—thing? Pavlova is saying AAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEE. Chaos is saying oh, hi, you again. You know, boss, we were having a nice nap before you opened that door. Pavlova is saying AAAAAAIIIIIIIEEEEE. Nobody died, and nobody suffered (serious) friction burns from Pav’s flying lead. But it was pretty exciting there for about five minutes.
And my keys disappeared. Disappeared. Disappeared. DISAPPEARED.
I spent something like half an hour looking for them. How far could they have gotten? I’d only just unlocked the door and let Pav and me back in.‡‡‡ And I was thinking IF THIS IS A SIGN IT’S THE WRONG SIGN. YES OF COURSE I HAVE A SPARE SET OF HOUSE KEYS, although I’d find it pretty much of a ratbag to remember some of what else is on that ring till I need it and it’s not there, BUT I’M STILL TOTALLY FREAKED OUT ABOUT THE DOG THIEF WARNING AND IF I CAN’T FIND MY KEYS which have got to be RIGHT HERE SOMEWHERE I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE EVER AGAIN.
I did find them, eventually. I have no idea how they got there: flung by an exuberant hellcritter, presumably. But I found them.
. . . And I have a sleeping hellterror. Finally. In my lap. She doesn’t FIT in my lap any more. But you can see when she is trying to calm down and get a grip, and on her pillow at—no longer under—my feet she kept climbing pathetically up my leg and trying to get in my lap. ALL RIGHT ALL RIGHT. But it’s going to be interesting in another ten pounds and a few more inches of leg.
* * *
* You or him/her?
** I hope they’re permanent. When I’m a little old lady, even more of a space cadet than I am now, and a single girl again I want to remember to lock my doors.
*** My probability of any sleep tonight dropped like a stone when hellhounds and I hurtled back to the cottage this evening and I found one of the local free papers on the mat with a front page story about a family dog being killed by an ordinary burglar in a bad mood because he didn’t find what he wanted.
† I’m looking on the bright side. She won’t need another puppy hurtle tonight, she’ll—eventually—wear herself out tantruming. Tiring things, tantrums. For both of us. The hellhounds are mildly fascinated, in a distant we-never-did-anything-like-that way. Of course you didn’t. You were the souls of courtesy and restraint from the day you arrived and as your first act destroyed my herb patch.
†† You forumites are absolutely right about hats. I’m very good about getting the woolly scarves and the hoods out for hurtling as soon as the weather turns grisly but I hadn’t made the connection to rehearsal in a gelid church, which is dim of me when I’d had enough sense to wrap my neck up. I will have to examine my hat selection.^ I’m usually thinking in terms of wind resistance but the icicles hang pretty straight down indoors at St Frideswide. Maybe I should knit something.
^ And find the sheepskin inserts for the All Stars. I was wearing long johns and a second pair of socks but that was not enough.
††† You can stop re-earning your sobriquet any time, honey. I’ve just texted Olivia: I’m going to tie her little feet together and hang her from the ceiling any minute now. And to think you and Southdowner conspired to give me the easy one.
‡ Which is a bit of a problem in this household.
‡‡ All wrapped up with just their noses sticking out. I live by cold ears and trembling. If their ears are warm, they’re fine. If their ears are cold but they’re not shivering, they’re fine. If their ears are cold and they’re shivering, they need their woollies, and I do tend to swathe them round in the car, when they’re lying down. Chaos is as much a wimp as I am: I’ll have him wrapped up in two layers of blanket before Darkness needs one. But it has to be pretty extreme before they need their coats while hurtling. And it makes me kind of nuts seeing tough little terrier types with thick rough dense coats of their own swaddled up in heavy wool fleece-lined jackets. Good grief.
And if hellhound ears are warm and they’re shivering GET A GOOD GRIP ON SHORT LEADS FAST because they’re about to take off after something.
‡‡‡ I knew I had unlocked the door. See: dug into the synapses.
Today got off to a very bad start last night. As so often. Never make jokes at your hellcritters’ expense. They’re listening. They are not amused.
Remember I wrote yesterday about the rogue kitchen door at the cottage? How, when the wind is in the right/wrong quarter, it sings and does the can-can, and while its high kicks are pretty persuasive it can’t carry a tune? And the hellhounds feel that kitchen doors should stand quietly and not make a fuss?
The door was a whole chorus line last night. And we’d had a rather exciting time on our final, mmph-o’clock hurtle, when I thought I might very well get airborne, with two hellhounds as wings. And the rain, you know. Lashing.* The one time I really miss my contact lenses is in heavy rain.
So the kitchen door was singing an inappropriate descant to the Cantique de Jean Racine and laughing diabolically between verses.** And hellhounds would not eat their supper. Would. Not. Eat. WOULD. NOT. EAT.
I’ve told you that while it’s perfectly true that I AM A NEUROTIC CONTROL FREAK, it is also true that if the hellhounds miss a meal they won’t want the next one, possibly through the essential perversity of being hellhounds, but I assume there’s something a little rational going on, like that being hungry makes them queasy, and they are dubious about food at best. AND SO YOU’RE JUST NEVER GOING TO EAT AGAIN, IS THAT IT, GUYS? THAT’S THE PLAN?
We tried supper in the crate. We tried supper out of the crate. The standard out-of-the-crate area is by the Aga and the door, however, so that was obviously not on. We tried supper wedged up against the puppy gate by the front door, which was the new default position in fear of the homicidal back door. NOOOOOOO, moaned the hellhounds. THIS IS NOT A SUPPER AREA. WE DO NOT EAT SUPPER IN THIS AREA.
We tried supper upstairs in my office in what I usually call their favourite bed, since they’ll rush up there every chance they get.*** BLASPHEMY! YOU POLLUTE OUR TEMPLE OF PURITY AND PERFECT REST AND PILLOWS OF ACCUMULATED DOG HAIR WITH FOOD? If you want to eat chocolate at your desk, that’s your business. WE DO NOT EAT IN OUR FAVOURITE BED. Pavlova, meanwhile, was trying to eat her crate, because she was DYYYYYYYYYING OF STARVAAAAAAAAATION—you should have thought of that before you ate whatever-it-was that gave you the runs, honeybun.†
Hellhounds didn’t eat last night. Neither did Pavlova, of course.†† I went to bed screaming and beating my breast about having hellcritters who have to eat and won’t, and hellcritters, well, hellcritter, who LONGS to eat and can’t.
. . . Today hellhounds ate their first meal with no hesitation whatsoever. So did Pavlova—of course. Pav is eating today, having got through the night clean. YAAAAAAAAAY.†††
Maybe this is a good omen for tomorrow???
Any of you out there with intercessionary gods to pray to, please ask for mercy tomorrow sometime soon after half-past twelve, for poor old Jean Racine and his Cantique.
* * *
* This was not stopping the half a dozen young lads in t shirts playing silly-buggers with the orange warning cones we seem to have quite a few of in the main street at the moment.^ Why the cones had not been airlifted to Kansas in that wind I’m not sure, but I guarantee they were not meant for the uses our young men were putting them to. I just hope the twits got indoors again before their alcoholic glow wore off and they realised they were freezing to death. And that no orange warning cones were harmed in such a way that is going to come out of the taxpayers’ pocket.
Lively place, the back woods of Hampshire. You have no idea.
^ Possibly marking blocked storm drains of which there also seem to be a generous plenty.
** Remember the talking skull in King Haggard’s castle in THE LAST UNICORN? Like that.
*** This was true before the arrival of the hellterror. Who doesn’t go upstairs. Yet. So long as you grab her fast enough. The usual late-night drill is that the hellhounds get their final short hurtle^ and are sent upstairs while Pavlova and I have a little interaction. If it’s a nice night we may go out first, but we end up at the foot of the stairs next to the Aga (and the door). You take your life in your hands, sitting on the floor with an almost-four-months-old hellterror puppy: they pogostick. They pogostick at you. Again, this is standard puppy behaviour, but hellterrors, as in so many things, have an extreme version.^^
The hellhounds will creep halfway down the stairs to watch the goings-on. Chaos will usually, eventually, come all the way down and permit himself to be pogosticked. Darkness may get as far as the bottom step, if she’s sufficiently occupied throwing herself at Chaos. Eventually Chaos will have had enough of the younger generation, and hurtle back upstairs. Pavlova can’t, actually, get up those stairs, because I’ve been watching closely as she tries, and guessing how many more weeks I have before I have to figure out some puppy-baffling sub-gate that the hellhounds can still get over. Not many.
But three nights ago in some kind of wild rush of adrenaline she did get about halfway up the stairs, perhaps literally swept along by Chaos—I didn’t see her go, but Chaos was now at the top of the stairs and there was a hellterror puppy stuck halfway and becoming aware that she could go neither forward nor back. I rescued her, muttering. But I now grab her collar when silliness is taking place too near the bottom of the stairs.^^^
^ Admiring the antics of the citizenry+ as appropriate.
+ There are appalling numbers of slugs out there. Just by the way.#
# I mean the slime-trail-leaving, garden-eating variety.
^^ And in the morning while I’m waiting for my tea to steep and am sitting dangerously on the floor if I yawn, she will pogostick so she can put her head in my mouth. You did use to get a mouthful of tongue with Hazel, the smallest and most limber of the whippets, who also saw an open mouth as an invitation, but this is the first dog I’ve had who tries to get her entire head in. Maybe there are more advantages to big dogs than I’d considered. No, no, Pavlova, don’t get any ideas! You’re a mini! Maybe I can learn to dislocate my jaw, like a boa constrictor! Maybe you’ll grow out of pogosticking!+
+ Why do I think this is not a good bet?
^^^ She is presently asleep in her crate, for a wonder, instead of under my foot. She has her nose in her upturned food bowl and it’s totally Icanhaz too cute. I don’t dare try to get a photo, though. There’s a blanket over the top of the crate, for ease of dropping down over the front when she is being a pestilential hellterror and I can’t sit down to Quell her right away, so it’s quite dark in there and I’m not going to use the flash, it might wake her up.
† Try containing a hellterror who thinks she’s starving to death. She will eat bedding, furniture, small dustbins, leftover birthday flowers, magazines, rolls of paper towels, dishtowels, shoes and raw Brussels sprouts. Taking her outdoors is a NIGHTMARE.
†† Except for a few chunks out of the side of her crate.
†††Now if only she would crap again at all.
‡ I can’t believe Gordon won’t have found a few extra sopranos for tomorrow . . . I have to believe it, or I won’t get any sleep tonight . . . but I wish we’d had the chirpy email about it. . . .
Whew. Thank you all. I knew there would be a reaction but . . . wow. Thank you.
I also wasn’t going to write about this again tonight, but I do want to acknowledge all the good wishes (and the occasional mazel tov. I’m still a many-ways-up-the-mountain person. I doubt that will change). And I admit that I have every intention of continuing to write about my journey, to the extent that it is funny or relevant or I am willing to hang it out here in public. If I drop the tea-urn on the chief abbot of Tintinnabulation Abbey* next Saturday morning, you will read about it here.
But religion, like politics, is perilous ground, and I do not thrive on controversy and shouting. Avoiding politics is mostly relatively easy because I’m not running polls or reading the political commentary in the GUARDIAN/ECONOMIST/FINANCIAL TIMES or subscribed to Reuters, although I do retweet a certain amount of stuff that other people have gone to the work of finding for me.** Religion . . . as I said last night, I’ve always known there was Something out there, and I’ve had various perhaps somewhat non-standard experiences reinforcing that knowledge. This is different. I’ve never felt the need to describe, define or witness any of it before. But it’s part of this package that you do what you’re told.*** I might not have had to come out last night, but I was going to have to do it. God says. I can’t remember if it was before or after I’d realised I was going to have to go public on the blog, and that furthermore I was going to try to do it at about the two-month mark, but I remember vividly a conversation with Oisin—who is one of my mentors and a, I think it’s called a lay reader?, and gets to wear a frock and everything, and is taking the service at St Radegund next Sunday, and I will be there—when he said, you know, God is going to tell you to do stuff, and you’ll have to do it. Eeep. Which is when I realised why I was going to have to put my conversion up on the blog. And why I am now jumping at small noises. . . .
I do understand the shock. Christmas Eve, 1970. Was not being Christian at all, at all, and hadn’t been for some years. But was lured into Washington Cathedral by gratitude for husband’s safe return from war and the promise of music I loved. (Talk about naive belief in one’s own impermeable shields…) And. WHAP the clue bat.
It definitely does change everything. (Also made me think those people who thought a religious experience was all warm fuzzy glowy feelings…hadn’t had theirs yet.) And…I’m glad for you. And admire you for letting us in on it, when you felt able to do so.
Thank you. (Thank you, again, all of you.) Music. Yes. Scary. I’ve also always had a very intense relationship with the music I love—much of it written by Christians more or less for the glory of their God, whether officially for church services or not—and now it’s sometimes like WAIT A MINUTE I DON’T THINK I’M SUPPOSED TO DIE YET. Another eeep thing. But singing Purcell’s Evening Hymn now? Well . . . God help me.
And I am so with you about people who think religion is all warm fuzzies. Get real. Is there anything deeply worthwhile that isn’t hard work, and the harder you work the more you get out of it? (Okay. Chocolate. Anything else.) Not that I’m always very good at this.† But I’m aware of the principle. Trying to be an even sort of good Christian is going to be . . . eeep. But warm fuzzies aren’t in it. The hard bits are hard and the joy is . . . scary. And I’ve only just started. Eeeep.
Is it appropriate to offer congratulations?
Yes. Or at least I hope so. Happy to have them. Thank you.
They would be heartfelt — I find myself envious, in the past few years, of the comfort that faith and belonging to a religious community seems to bring to those who have found it and found a place in one.
I am so colossally awful at the human-group thing that trying to belong to a church community is actually going to be one of my more lurid challenges. Sigh. A friend pointed out that there’s a perfectly good tradition of solitary whatever in Christianity, and there is, but that’s not where I’m being led/dragged/shoved like a balky kid going to her first day of kindergarten NOOOOOOOOOOO. Personally I don’t know how anyone does coming-to-belief without the whap up longside the head bit that is what brought me round, but I’ve been told that it may just creep up on you, like strengthening sunlight. You might try going through the motions in a healthy religious community and see if the sunlight starts shining on you.
. . . I can’t believe you were so vulnerable as to share something of this magnitude (which might alienate legions of fans). Best of luck on your journey!
I feel a little bogus accepting praise for writing about this. I am a writer, it’s what I do. And God said. At the same time . . . I am really, really, really REALLY exhausted, last night and today, because of the stress and anxiety about doing this thing I knew I had to do. (And I give myself points for getting it done on the day.) So thank (all of) you (again). As for alienating legions of fans. . . . Um, well, eeep. I hope not. I would have thought if I were going to alienate legions of fans I was much more likely to do it by my wet liberal knee jerk ranting apocalyptic feminism, which has been around for quite a while. Hmmm. Maybe that’s why I’m not a best-seller.
I cannot stop smiling.
. . . what does Peter say? And you wouldn’t happen to have been reading CS Lewis at the time, would you?
Peter, bless him, is whole-heartedly supportive, which is a very good thing because I would find it very difficult if he weren’t. He is himself not a Christian, but the Dickinson clan is riddled with Christians, so he’s used to the breed. His brother-the-priest is one of my mentors.††
And . . . C S Lewis. I think I’d better come clean about this sooner rather than later. Lewis is one of the big strident reasons I knew Christianity was not for me. I am allergic to C S Lewis. That he brings some people to Christianity is great and wonderful and excellent and whatever works. But that’s the end of it for me. I know people feel passionately about Lewis—well, so do I, but not in a good way—so I’ll just say, please respect my feelings about this.
I’m an atheist, but I just want to say this, for what it’s worth: You have not alienated this fan.
Nor this one.
I can’t deny it was somewhat of shock, and I had to read it all a few times before it sunk in. Along with everyone else here, though, all I have is respect and admiration for your courage in sharing this with us, and the best of wishes that you will find whoever and whatever is right for you on your so suddenly changed path through life.
Thank you. I have been the most worried about the reaction of you long-time loyal forum regulars—I knew that some of you would turn out not to be Christians or some other committed faith, and might not swing with it—you ones I’d notice and really miss, if you went away. THANK YOU. Yaaaaaaay. . . .
There’s lots and lots more to say, of course, and I’ll certainly say some of it sooner or later. But tomorrow I really am going to write about something else. And right now I am going to bed, to sleep the sleep of the semi-just.
* * *
* No. But it should have bells.
** http://video.msnbc.msn.com/the-rachel-maddow-show/49736294 for example, about the election, which I tweeted a couple of days ago. Thank you, Blogmom.
*** I am so not going to get into this. But one of the things that put me off Christianity for nearly sixty years is the whole blind grovelling obedience thing. Eh. Here on the other side that’s not what it looks like. But the language can be a little off-putting.
† Not that I’m even most of the time moderately good at this.
†† Speaking of the kind of wild coincidences that happen: my road to Damascus moment happened in the afternoon. That evening Peter’s brother the retired priest rang and I picked up the phone. I literally hadn’t spoken to him in YEARS: we emailed occasionally but he usually rings Peter at times that Peter is next to the phone and I’m not. How nice to hear your voice, he said, sounding really pleased. Oh, er, hi, I said. Um. . . if you have a minute before I turn you over to Peter. . . .