Like my sailing blog in French, my postings are a little slow at present. There is little to report, and I see little need to repeat here what is reported elsewhere. Some blogs relate that Bishop Entwistle would be the Ordinary for Australia, and other speculations abound about Torres Strait. I feel so alienated from it all, though I am usually happy for people to find their joy and fulfilment in life. I listened to some of Monsignor Newton’s speech in Brighton about ecumenism. Again, nothing to relate to and I became too bored with what I was hearing. I am certainly suffering from the spiritual sickness of acedia!
The climate in Europe over April and May rarely rose above temperatures typical of March, and we were dogged by the same old north Atlantic depression that turned and turned but without going anywhere except over our heads. The winds just alternated between the fickle north-easterly, the cool north westerly, the brisk sou’westerly and the warm and thundery wind from the continent. We moved into settled warm weather only on the Friday before Pentecost. The weather makes a big difference for me! At last, the balmy days are here…
I was far away from all the religious controversies last Saturday and Sunday, when conditions at sea were moderate but with a fresh wind that promised a challenge to both boat and helmsman. On Saturday, it was our weekly session at sailing school, and I had the use of the school’s Laser dinghy, a fast and light racing boat. We were three catamarans and me in the Laser. We had a brisk cruise to the Cardinal, the buoy off the nuclear power station of Paluel which for boaters indicates not only the cardinal points of the compass, but also the limit beyond which boats are not allowed to approach the atomic site. Duly obeying the rules, we kept well away and continued our long close haul before turning back. It was a similar outing to the previous Saturday when we were a group consisting of the Laser, a similar boat in heavy plastic with a big sport sail which I sailed, and a catamaran – and then we had less wind.
Last Sunday, after celebrating Mass with my wife and nephew in attendance, we went to Veules. They went to do something else and I took the boat out in 13 brisk knots of wind. A sailing club of Vernon was there with a group of youngsters in Lasers and their instructor in a big powerful motor boat. The young guys sailed like aces, and so I would join them in my boat, considerably slower than a Laser but with a jib to compensate a little. It was quite fun, though some of the young sailors would tack right in front of me without looking and I would have to tack to avoid a collision. I was tacking and hauling in quite furiously as I sailed close to the wind.
All of a sudden – crack! – a piece of rope tying my rigging shrouds to the top of the mast broke and down came the mast. I had only to get everything back on board. This time, I had no need for a jury rig, the visiting club’s motor boat was just nearby. I asked its skipper for a tow to the beach, which he graciously granted me, and I was relieved that my mast was not broken and the repair would cost me nothing. As always, the lesson to learn is – check the boat’s rigging and replace all worn ropes. On a boat, the tiniest problem can cause big difficulties at sea.
For the boys in the Lasers, it was their first time on the sea, a whole different experience from protected waters. They handled the waves like magic. It is wonderful to see young men so skilled at such a tender age and with much less weight to balance the boat. I was very impressed.
Now, back on land, I have a little more translating work coming in, since May is often a parsimonious month with all the bank holidays here in France and fewer orders arriving. That is bread and butter – nothing comes free for anyone.
My recent experience of blogging and relating to conservative Anglicans and Roman Catholics give me pause to rethink many things. However, I am bound to be circumspect – as I am certain of so little these days. I am still hurt by much of the flak I took on the defunct English Catholic blog and in some other blogs. Some of the Saints said that Christian life was all about thorns and brambles, the long hard slog. They were certainly right, with the sun occasionally squeezing its consoling rays between two heavy grey cumulus clouds. However, a cloudy day can provide great sailing!
All that being said, I share the concern that conservative Christianity, when its business is truth without compassion, will fail to win the hearts of future generations. I pray that 2012 would bring a change of heart, an infusion of the grace of Pentecost. It might yet happen – we have to believe in it!