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Church Times Diary October 2017

Church Times Diary October 2017

Electronic calendars, anyone? I was chatting to one of my Spiritual Directees, telling him that I was off to buy a new Filofax. He laughed and said “Goodness, that’s very old fashioned, isn’t it?” It hadn’t actually really occurred to me that it was, but chastened, I thought I’d better have a go with electronic calendars since everyone else seems to be using them, thus continuing my rather unwilling voyage into new technologies. I started off with my iPad calendar, and was rather pleased when I managed to fill in all my dates complete with travel time, reminders and directions. I was tickled when perky little reminders started popping up on my Apple watch, feeling I had finally progressed into the 21st Century hinterland. Then the problems started. I realised that my iPad & iPhone weren’t always synchronising, and I discovered that although I was using my Outlook Calendar, I was getting confused with that and the Google Calendar. Added to that, I then found that my Parish Office was using something called a Zoho.com calendar after one of the Churchwardens had managed to wipe off most of the Parish dates from the existing Google Calendar (I was rather proud of her). I then realised that the two other churches in my new patch do things differently too, not to mention the two Church Schools. I have come across something called a “Cross-Platform Sync” which promises to knit all these together into a great, wobbling monolith of a calendar which would duly have me in its giant thrall.

At this point my soul rebelled. When I was first ordained, some twenty-seven years ago, all I had were a Filofax Diary (lovingly known as my Curatofax), a landline ‘phone and letters. No answerphone, no computer, no emails. In retrospect how blessed: on the whole, it all worked.  So although I’ll refer to all this electronic wizardry, (I now have a Zoho calendar App on my ‘phone) I’m still going to get a new Filofax, and will go back to hard copy. It might be very 1980’s but I don’t care: deep down, so am I!

I am still gradually rising from the chaos of moving: one benefit is that I have been able to sort all my books, pretty much for the first time ever. Downstairs in my new office I have about 1500 theological books and I am in awe of them. I am impressed that I have about 125 biblical commentaries, and whole swathes of spirituality – about 150 –  and oodles of books of prayers and meditations. There are shelves of pastoralia, and shelves of liturgy – all in all enough to display my sanctity and erudition. What a splendid priest and pastor I would be if I’d actually read them all, but sadly not. I remember a friend at University who was hugely diligent at photocopying articles and chapters, who would trim them, punch holes in them and put them into fat, efficient folders – but who would never quite get around to reading them. Alas, I’m afraid I’m the same with all these books – full of good intentions but rarely getting round to actually reading the things. Hopefully I’ll now be shamed into doing so, but we know where the road that is paved with good intentions leads to…

Upstairs it’s a bit happier: there is a plethora of bedrooms in my new Rectory, and I have been able to devote one to all my books on fiction. A friend who came to help move me in spent a week sorting all the books (thanks Jules!) and it will, I think, become a real retreat, once I’ve got an easy chair and standard lamp. Pride of place, though, goes to my collection of T.S.Eliot & Ezra Pound, poets important to me. Looking at my copy of Pound’s Cantos, I was transported back to my recent Sabbatical in Venice, to the cemetery island of San Michele, where Venitians and others are buried. I visited it and was hugely moved by the graves of Stravinsky and Diagalev (people still come and leave ballet shoes tied to Diagalev’s tomb) but my chief target was Ezra Pound’s last resting place in the Protestant Cemetery. I duly found the little plaque dedicated to him, and viewed it in meditative silence. But not for long. I am fairly susceptible to insect bites, but have rarely been so badly bitten as in the Protestant Cemetery where foreigners are buried. The rest of the island was fine: purely in the Protestant cemetery were there these insects that prayed exclusively upon Protestants. All I can say is, whenever I read Pound again, my calf muscles will throb in sympathy!

Maybe in my new electronic calendar I should score some days through for reading, both theology and poetry: and pigs might fly in the maelstrom of Parish Life…..

The Rector – John Wall

Reproduced by kind permission of The Church Times.

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