Just a few local errands these days and I am wasted for much of the rest of the day. Still, I got a fair amount done early on, first of all over the phone and then walking into Twickenham with my daughter. She goes off to university for the first time this Saturday and we needed to equip her bike with a good lock and a pump. The phone tasks were to renew some car insurance and arrange for the police to call tomorrow to security-mark all the family bikes. I am not sure how they go about this, but think it involves “magic paint” of some kind. I also had to pick up a prescription for anti-virals (which I need to take for three months).
Suitably exhausted, I took to the sofa, where I can recline in reasonable comfort, read or mess about on the computer and receive visitors. In the early afternoon a friend from church came by for the first proper chat we have managed in months. His life is going down an interesting path, as he recently took early retirement from successful legal practice to pursue work as a life coach. He is steadily establishing himself in his new field, with the benefit of some excellent training and talking about his work this afternoon enabled us to reflect on the pressures of modern life and the decisions that people find themselves making at various stages.
We also spoke about life in the slums of New Delhi, where our church has been sending a volunteer team every February for the last few years, working with a local organisation known as “Asha” (“Hope”). My friend went on this year’s trip and told me how surprised he had been to find the slum-dwellers full of excitement, activity and joy, rather than sunk in torpor and despair. We contrasted their strong community bonds with the ennui of our relatively atomised, individualistic, consumerist culture and wondered who in fact the real poor were. The danger and paradox is that, as people escape slum conditions (and some now achieve degrees), they will lose their spark of joy.
The key to retaining it must lie in core values and beliefs, just as it does for us. What are “the things that make for peace and build up our common life”, as the Communion service has it?