The settling-in process is coming on. It is the prerequisite for being able to take life in hand and return to writing and making videos. I built my bookshelves last week, and there are just as many in shelves the other side of the room, and in a bookcase above my bed head. This is my bedroom, but also the library and sewing room. This is a small house, so two of the three rooms are multi-purpose. Only the oratory is exclusively dedicated to worship and sacristy.
I am presently working on my workshop which has been a real mess. The floor is beaten earth. Perhaps I will put planks in, but not yet on my budget. The building needs good ventilation, otherwise it will get damp and the tools will go rusty! Ora et labora – the workshop is just as important as the oratory.
The library will need radical sorting according to subject, and that is a job in itself. My office is downstairs and shares the space with the kitchen, refectory and music room (where the organ is going – more on that in the coming weeks). This is where I earn my living and do other writing work.
I have not yet fitted the curtains, but they are on the way. I need to cut them to length and sew the hems, then put up the curtain rails and rings. That will give a little less austerity to the rooms. The oratory will not have curtains on the window.
For music, the pipe organ is not yet reassembled. It also needs a modification to the case because of the lower ceiling. The 8ft stopped bass needs lowering and the conveyances lengthened. It will be quite a challenge. I have a MIDI keyboard which plugs into my computer which has the programme Grand Orgue which is similar to Hauptwerk. The principle is that the sound of each and every pipe of an organ is recorded in *.wav format. The result is as imperfect as a pipe organ and the result is impressive, and unlike most electronic organs, even digital ones. If I ever receive the visit of an organist friend, we could play Antonio Soler’s Seis Conciertos para dos órganos.
All this home-making is important, just like anyone else, for personal stability and a sense of belonging even in the quasi-absence of social life. I have yet to sail this year. Weather in April and May so far has been mediocre and my time has been taken up with removing my possessions from my home in Normandy to bring them to this lovely corner of the Mayenne. I started the process in about mid-March, buying large quantities of cardboard boxes and finding my rented lodgings and a removal firm with some help from my family. I have nearly all my things with me, which is a blessing in such a situation.
I feel more settled, though it will take time before this house is shipshape and Bristol and I can think about more books, articles and videos. Already, these blog articles of my new life are being posted, and they represent my social life as a human being and my ministry as a priest. One by one, the tasks are being done. I will be getting my second Covid shot in June from my old doctor in Yvetot. I hope and pray that this and millions of other vaccinations will bring the virus to become no more harmful than the common cold or the seasonal flu. The pandemic still impedes travel and many things I would like to do in England.
My little Sarum group will certainly organise a Zoom meeting, because we need to motivate each other and get more of an impression of working as a team, each with our particularities of publishing, academic work, the philosophical and cultural context and so much more to revive a notion of the liturgy in the wider Catholic world that has largely fallen into desuetude since the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. This is just one example of a true priestly ministry as a solitary.
The work goes on. I am about to go and say Mass for this fifth Sunday after Easter, the last before the Ascension and Whit Sunday. I will be doing more workshop this afternoon, the coarse work before the fine-tuning and making of more shelves for tools and materials. It is the same in the library and especially in the downstairs room. I am going for my “new” (second-hand) fridge this afternoon to replace the one I have just scrapped because it was freezing the contents and couldn’t be adjusted. Little by little. Every situation needs careful analysis and anticipation, something I learned during my harpsichord-making course back in the 1970’s.
Your prayers are appreciated as I rebuild my life and learn from the past.