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Still Life, Writing & An Announcement - August Beagle

I have an important update to share with you today which I'll post at the end.

Hello friends,

‘Glory be to God for dappled things’ as Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote. What beautiful summer days we are in where light dapples in through lush green leaves. Summer hasn't come without it's challenges though, we've experienced record breaking heat in London and wildfires. During my 17 years in Australia I regularly saw and experienced the eery atmosphere of bush fires, I never expected to see that here. Yet creation is so very forgiving, I already see signs of recovery with cool changes and much needed rain, the heavens open and the ground says amen.

Have you seen the images from the James Webb space telescope recently? I am in awe. We are seeing the edge of the created universe a million miles away, glimpsing light as it looked 4.6 billion years ago, we are looking back in time to where God spoke words and worlds were formed.

I've been catching up on things this month which summer seems to lend itself to. I've been enjoying talks and inspiration from Sarah Clarkson on her Patreon and was inspired to write something a day as a little exercise. Just t write, anything. The idea is to still yourself with pen and paper to hand and simply launch off from whatever you observe or are pondering. Do you notice the way the light is coming through the window, how it falls across the room and casts a golden sheen to all it touches. Does your body feel weak, are there aches and pains, worries and deep fears. Has the news been bothering you, or are you wearing that new outfit which makes you feel more like yourself than ever?

It reminds me of a more lengthily kind of journalling with a literary twist.

Here are two days from my exercises:

Day 1: The biggest obstacle to my progressing by far, is my phone. But I can’t lay the blame squarely there, it’s an inanimate object. It’s me, me who turns it on, who awakens it with a touch, who glances over to check on it like an anxious mother. No, I’m being a coward, I must shift the blame to me and me alone. Self–control is not the issue, I cannot control myself, such is its hold over me. Self–removal is what’s required. It needs to be banished, exiled!

My books wait patiently, untouched pages, un-fingered folds. I glance at them briefly but not so much with desire as with guilt. My phone has a new screen protector to replace the one with the crack while my books gather dust. But I long to break free. I must get ahead of the curve and pre-empt the temptation by removal of the device while in a strong emotional place. I need to sneak it away while it’s sleeping, in between chores and other occupations. I must take it when it won’t notice.

This has been going on for too long, I have fooled myself, I have played with fire. But how can one take fire to the bosom and not get burned? How can I live and share the same space with this hot coal, will it not burn the whole house down? My creative self is held captive to its domineering and subtle, pleasant ways.

There is no life in this thing only empty calories like those Konjac noodles. They look appealing and taste good at the time but not long after you’re left with an ache in your belly and a hunger for more. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’, all around me I see good the wonders of the invisible God made manifest in everything around me. Yet my mouth remains dry and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. I must forsake all else, go, pluck, bite, touch, smell, see – take this real full fat life into my bones and nourish my soul I’m a strike now all my dander is up!

Day 2: "A study found that just by being in the same room as our phones (even if they are turned off) will reduce someone’s working memory and problem–solving skills." Translation: they make us dumber. As one summary of the report put it, “If you grow dependent on your smart phone, it becomes a magical device that silently shouts your name at your brain at all times.“

- The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer.

I’m busy and distracted, it’s taking me far too long to get through the above mentioned book. Oh the irony.

I had a hair appointment today and rather than take my phone to read whilst ‘cooking‘, I brought my book. It’s a great habit but habits often fade and fizzle when not cemented in and therefore need re-impressing. Today I prevailed. I found myself reading hungrily, nodding and underlining in a voracious rhythm. If I can stack this habit and keep going I might just finish the book . . . . before Christmas!

My hair has been a bit of a focus this month. You see at 52, I’ve just discovered that I have naturally wavy hair. I’ve railed on and fought with my tresses for decades as it kinked and drooped. I’ve always seen it as fine, flat and a bit of a failure. Why did God give rich rubbish hair? But I am a little in love right now. I’ve entered a whole new world of this thing called the Curly Girl Method and a whole new relationship with my locks. We are getting reacquainted. Some days I'm curly girl others I'm more cave girl. It’s hard to describe the feeling which came over me when I first discovered my usually limp, straight, fine hair is actually textured, wavy and full of volume. I felt like Harry Potter when he got his invitation letter to Hogwarts or the ugly duckling when the swans saw him for who he really was.

I’ve been in an almost three year season of transition from home educator and church leader to graduated mum and currently church orphan. There have been many aspects of me buried under me which have s