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July 2017

This month’s letter is from Anne:

As summer and holidays are well and truly upon us, I’m reminded of one of my favourite old T-shirt designs.  On the front is printed the legend: ‘Sail fast, live slow’.

The great 20th century philosopher, Wittgenstein, is very hard to understand. He wrote with irony, parody and jokes.  He spattered his writing with punctuation marks.  He mixed up fragments of texts. He seemed to change the subject at random.

In his later writing, Wittgenstein explained why he did this: “Sometimes a sentence can only be understood if it is read at the right speed. My sentences are all meant to be read slowly.”  And later:  “I really want my copious punctuation marks to slow down the speed of reading.  Because I should like to be read slowly.”

A few weeks ago I re-read (quite slowly!) the delightful novel, ‘Salmon fishing in the Yemen’, by Paul Torday.  In it, a sheikh has a seemingly impossible vision.  He wants to introduce salmon to the seasonal waters of a wadi in the desert.  As a lover of fishing himself, he believes that it will help his people to enjoy life and to be less hot-tempered:  “My countrymen will stand on the banks side by side and fish for salmon.  And their natures too will be changed.  They will feel the enchantment of this silver fish, and the overwhelming love that I know for the fish and the river it swims in.  And then when talk turns to what this tribe said or did, and voices grow heated, then someone will say, “Let us arise, and go fishing”.

God is committed to our full enjoyment of this extraordinary world.  One rabbi famously said that the first question God would ask him at the end of his life would be “Did you enjoy my creation?”

In the three short years of Jesus’s busy ministry on earth he found time to do just that.  He’d journey around the countryside at walking pace, and with a deep sense of wonder he’d point out to his friends the glory around them: the birds of the air, the beauty of the meadow flowers.  Jesus would pause and marvel at the world’s beauty and in so doing, draw closer to God, his Father.

As this holiday season gets into full swing, I hope that all of us find time, whether we’re at home or further afield, to do just that: to pause and marvel at God’s glorious creation; to savour good books at leisure; to ‘live slow’ and to draw closer to God.

Anne Futcher

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