Yesterday, without setting out to do so, I found myself telling whoever might happen to read my blog posts how much I have enjoyed being of no fixed abode and therefore being able to discover four different corners of England and Wales. How is it that I have been able to experience this time as a blessing rather than a curse?
Firstly, I have some money in the bank – not much, but enough to tide me over for a number of months, so long as I don’t have to spend a lot of money on rent. I am not (yet?) destitute. It helps that I’m able to earn a little money by doing translation work.
Secondly, I have a number of good friends, and one special friend, who are only too happy to accommodate me in their homes for a while, especially if I can help out in some way. One friend even gave me some pocket money as well as free board and lodging whilst I was helping out on his sheep farm for a fortnight.
Thirdly, I feel reasonably confident that I shall find somewhere to settle with some sort of income before my money runs out. I just need to take steps to make that happen.
Fourthly, I have been able to spend a lot of time doing what I enjoy doing: spending time with friends, getting to know people, gardening, walking, cycling, visiting National Trust properties, playing pooh-sticks on Pooh Sticks Bridge…
Fifthly, I suppose I do have a little faith – in God, the Spirit or whoever he/she is. I remember that Julian of Norwich has assured us that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”. And my special friend has reminded me that Jesus pointed out that God provides for the lilies of the field which do not spin or reap and yet are better adorned than Solomon in all his glory. We do not need to be anxious about the morrow.
Songs and hymns sustain me – songs such as “Come by the Hills” with the refrain: “And cares of tomorrow must wait ‘til this day is done.”
With so many reasons to be cheerful, I cannot feel grumpy or fearful or anxious for long. When I was feeling grumpy and fearful one morning a couple of days ago, I sang the following hymn (which I learnt at the Quaker boarding school that I went to) to myself:
Father, hear the prayer we offer.
Not for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.
Not for ever in green pastures
Do we ask our way to be,
But the steep and rugged pathway
May we tread rejoicingly.
Not for ever by still waters
Would we idly rest and stay,
But would smith the living fountains
From the rocks along our way.
Be our strength in hours of weakness,
In our wanderings be our guide;
Through endeavour, failure, danger,
Father, be thou at our side.
(Words by Love M. Willis)
One last thought: I imagine that this experience of being of no fixed abode – even though I haven’t been totally destitute and friendless – may have been given to me “that I might have a sense of all conditions”, to use the words of George Fox.