A mortal, born of woman, few of days, and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last (Job 14.1–2).
Sunday, June 9, 2019.
The sides of the stone font at Llanychaearn Church, Rhydyfelin are inscribed with graffiti going back to the early 1700s. It’s impossible to distinguish the earliest from the most recent additions. The identity of the writer may have been known only to themselves, and written with a view to returning to the church, long after, in order to identify themselves (again), and remember the occasion of the inscription. As in photographs, actions and fractions of time have been frozen in perpetuity. I was struck by the coming together of two types of font: the baptismal and the typographic.
In the afternoon, once blue sky had broken, I took to the road. It rained! ‘What to do?’ I took sanctuary at Llanbadarn Church:
I’d discovered an inscription of a different order in the churchyard. Margaret Morgan was the wife of a cleric. She’d died in her middle years, which was not uncommon in the first part of the nineteenth century. The, what might be called, ‘summative assessment’ of her character and life is as impressive as it’s touching. She’s described as: ‘Truly pious in her devotional exercises’. This was not well-meaning religious cant. Margaret would’ve lived a life wherein the Scripture was her touchstone and guiding light. She’d have prayed with and for her husband, family, and friends regularly, brought up her children in the fear of God, and sought to spend her best energies on practical works of charity and kindness – the outworking of a vital faith. What a woman!:
Monday, June 10, 2019. 8.00 am: A communion. I’d had a dismal night’s sleep; so concentration was a challenge. 9.00 am: I secured slots for the week’s postgraduate teaching, dispatched emails, while addressing a horrendous build-up of spam in the ‘Contact’ folder of my main website. (The filter clearly wasn’t working any longer.) ‘Find a hot woman for good sex in your town’ was the dominant unsolicited solicitation. Followed by invitations to ‘make big $ fast’ (presumably in order to fund the sexual appetite), join on-line gambling casinos (not guaranteed to secure a steady income stream for the same), and spy on ‘real people’ (engaged in ‘good sex’, I suspect, should you fail to acquire the cash to buy some for yourself). Spam is a telling index to the self-obsessions, lusts, and moral bankruptcy of our age.
I’m aware that the clock of the post-academic year period is ticking away. Every year, in a state of exhaustion, I push myself into the most research-intensive period of the year. The large projects are now nearly complete. This summer will be characterised by ploughing and seeding, planning and proposing. And I’ll do only what I want to do. That’s always been a key ingredient in the recipe for success. Marks for the modules which I co-ordinate were prepared for release; the Postgraduate Research Monitoring exercise, monitored; and my cap and gown for the degree ceremony next month, ordered. I look forward to it.
11.00 am: Teatime. One square is rarely enough:
1.00 pm: I attended the funeral of Orgill Morris at my previous place of worship. He’d been longing to ‘go home’ for the last few years. Others of his great age were being called, but he’d felt as though he’d missed the bus. Now, his prayers have been answered; he’s passed over the threshold of his ‘mansion’ (John 14.2). He and I suffered from Dupuytren’s Contracture. Both his little fingers had been affected. Two operations later, my complaint is cured (for the time being). He couldn’t face the surgery, however. I used to rag him about it. He was a genuinely decent, upright, kind-hearted, faithful, and modest man, in the manner that was customary among folk of his generation:
2.00 pm: Back to, and on with, it. A piddling afternoon, sending emails and reminders, finding files, drafting reports, configuring websites, and searching for answers of a more profound kind.
7.30 pm: I pressed on with the reports, with the promise of a morning in the studio ahead of me tomorrow.