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      Christmas 2018

December 2018

Dear Friends and Family.

A joy-filled Advent, and a very happy Christmas to everyone;  I hope this finds you well.

The SCH move anticipated in my previous newsletter has actually happened!

In the event, although it felt like an eternity, the whole transfer, from conception to moving date was completed in less than 5 months and I moved to Sheffield in the middle of August.  I bought the first bungalow I viewed, next to the hospital, opposite a nature reserve (wooded) and round the corner from another one (ponded), with 4 more municipal parks within Mr-Bingley-walking-distance.  I can walk to the nearest shop, (though as it is uphill, and as the very regular bus service stops just 20 metres down the road, I more often bus up & walk back down).  I can walk to church, to the GP, the dentist, the post office ….  I feel very fortunate and grateful.  Thank you to everyone who supported me through the process.  It made such a huge difference not trying to manage it all on my own.

I discovered very quickly that my new neighbourhood is predominantly Muslim in culture.   We don’t have the Adhan calling the faithful to prayer, but there is no missing the streams of white-clothed brethren making their way down to the mosque on a Friday lunchtime.  My neighbours have all been very welcoming – they seem surprised, but genuinely gratified, by the work I have already put into taming the rather overgrown front garden (a great way of meeting new people, especially with the enthusiasm of a little dog at my side, over-excited by every face peering over the wall to say hello!).  They call me Baji, sister - a common term of respect for the “mature” woman I believe - and (secretly) “the grafter”.  I think it is meant as a compliment.

I am thoroughly enjoying the sounds and sights of busyness around the area – traffic, hospital visitors, buses, dog walkers, builders (not mine), sirens, even the occasional emergency helicopter!  This is all very different to my previous rural existence, and I am slowly working out how to do “hermitage” in the middle of it all.  Sitting in my tiny prayer room in the early morning, listening to the rest of the world heading off to work fills me with an immense sense of gratitude, and I feel very privileged to be able to live in this way.

I am also enjoying exploring the Sheffield bus network, with direct routes to catch up with friends in the “posh” end of town, and just a couple of buses out to support my parents on the outskirts of the city.  It is a luxury to be able to hail a bus without days of planning beforehand! Super-impressed too by the courtesy of my fellow-passengers on the buses – not only do they quit the “priority” seats at first sight of a walking cane or push-chair, but it is a rare thing for anyone to disembark before thanking the driver first.  I was a schoolgirl the last time that buses were my primary mode of transport:  I don’t remember us all being quite so polite back then!

My three favourite quirky things about my new home:

1. I have a tiny forest glen tucked into the back corner of my garden: I have invested in an industrial grade shredder so I can shred and make mulch to my heart’s content.

2. The loftspace is entirely kitted out with pine cladding and reclaimed kitchen cupboard doors (also pine but sans cupboards).  The abundance of various antenna & communication points, suggests previous occupants might have had an ambition towards bond-villain-esque-pine-forest-domination!

3. I can clean all the carpets in the bungalow without ever having to move the vacuum cleaner plug!  One of life’s little frustrations quietly annihilated. Hoorah!

I hope 2018 was a good year for you too.  If it has been more difficult, then please be assured of my continued prayers and the prayers of all the Church. The prayers of the faithful are held before God at least twice every day wherever the consecrated Church has taken root.  To everyone: the happy and the sad, the weary and the hopeful, the troubled and the joyful, I wish you all the newness of Life and Love offered this Christmas: God is with us.  

Love and prayers

Rachel (Erem. Dio.*)   

*Notts/Hallam status not quite resolved yet!  Erem. Dio. stands for eremita dioecesanus – diocesan hermit.  It is a standard term for all hermits professed under Canon 603 but does not make specific reference to the diocese of affiliation.