Why do we fill time in the ways we do? Does choice or necessity pull rank in how we occupy the hours of our lives?
I was busy enough during May to almost completely bypass the Royal Wedding. On 19th May, when my London Daughter sent an Instagram of a beautifully set afternoon tea, I asked what time the wedding was. Her reply: “It’s just finished, Mum!” Ooops.
However, I’d had the presence of mind to do a special Royal Wedding #wordsinmywindow earlier that morning. Worried about someone taking umbrage and smashing my window (see January’s words), I decided against OFF/WITH/THEIR. Instead I chose an allusion to the oft Marie Antoinette-attributed ‘Qu’ils mangent de la brioche’: LET/THEM/EAT (using an upside-down 1 as an extra T). This prompted a variety of responses on social media, including:
Let them Eat…….Standing Up. Buffet style!!!!
Happily with family and friends
and the more prosaic:
Can’t be over soon enough, blurg…
‘Under the Sun’ (ellipted from ‘There is nothing new under the sun’ from Ecclesiastes, the Old Testament Bible book) would have been my choice to kick off May – prompted by the glorious Bank Holiday weather. However, there’s only one U in my light box letters. Hence UNDER/THE/SKY which, to me, seems to encapsulate the idea of being rather than doing, observing rather than striving to change and celebrating rather than denigrating. Of course, this rather leapfrogs the spiritual soul searching of the original. Is everything we do simply a reinvention of things already done? Does that make it all meaningless? Is true meaning only to be found through a connection with God/ a higher being?
The next words of May feel almost like a double negative. I toyed with the equally nebulous ZERO/IS/CERTAIN. Suffice to say that the tenure of ZERO/IS NOT/CERTAIN was definitely uncertain. Our decorators turned up unexpectedly and kept removing the sign in order to paint the windows. On the upside, the window frame forms a slightly less frayed frame to my words now! One friend emailed and included a PS:
Zero may not be certain but I wouldn’t want to put too much money on it.
Another commented on the JOIN IN visible on a poster beneath it – one of the many community notices that regularly feature in our windows – which highlights the opportunity to contribute a stitch or two to a tapestry being created to celebrate Berwick à la Great Tapestry of Scotland.
Spirituality seems to haunt my words. WANDER/WATCH/WONDER was inspired by a brief stop in the beautiful Northumberland village of Felton and a wander in its Grade 1 listed church: St Michael And All Angels. Inside, we found a tenderly curated prayer trail based on Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd…). It meandered lovingly around the church. All that work to offer a relatively small congregation and passers-by like us a week to stumble across it and consider it; all in this obvious and yet, somehow simultaneously, unlikely setting.
The Husband is very good at spending time pondering things – whether it be a planning notice on a lamp post or a flower in the garden. I am much more of a ‘no time for hanging around’ kind of person. But this little oasis of calm in that lovely church made me pause. No matter what your beliefs, allowing yourself valuable time to reconceive thoughts and ideas must surely be central to a world that welcomes rather than excludes or condemns out of hand. Surely curiosity and wonder are the lifeblood of existence?
Because we held an Open Garden as part of a fundraiser for our local parks here in Berwick, I finished the month with TEND/OUR/GARDENS. A nod to the French writer Voltaire’s picaresque satirical novella, ‘Candide’ or ‘Optimism’. It was an unplanned link and counterpoint to the earlier words: LET/THEM/EAT, and neatly pulled May’s words full circle to UNDER/THE/SKY.