S T   C U T H B E R T ’ S  H O U S E Hermitage of the Diocese of Nottingham               

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April 2013

Dear Friends & Family

Habemus Papam.  Habeo diagnosis.  Happy Easter.  Halleluiah!

Fair to say, I think, Advent to Easter this year was a pretty rough time for me health-wise.  The RSI injury of Christmas morphed into months of nausea, migraine and persistent double vision.  All of which meant that the car (with its brand new winter tyres – I drove on them just once – the traction, the stability, the joy!) has been taking a holiday and I have been sampling the delights of rural public transport.  Lincolnshire runs a fleet of purple minibuses around the villages on a pre-bookable basis – a sort of shared taxi service.  Drivers tend to work very locally (one even lives in my village) so once I started using the service regularly they soon knew my name and my circumstances.  I could not have been more impressed with the service they offer.  Pick up from the front gate (one driver even regularly reversed down my drive to pick me up), and drop off at the door; even during the heavy snowfall, the buses were still ploughing down the minor, untreated roads of the district, carrying all before (within!) them.  Thanks too to the volunteer drivers from Lincoln County Hospital who have been ferrying me back and forth.  This was never a way I expected to discover some of Lincoln’s most far flung villages & their inhabitants, but I have been very happy to be part of the bus/car community for the duration, and to meet such cheering, appreciative folk.  

And at last, after all the high jinks & hoopla and after four years of wondering, I have a diagnosis:  dodgy leg syndrome and dodgy eye syndrome are now upgraded to … (cue drum roll) ,,, Myasthenia Gravis.  Not something you would wish on your granny, but the symptoms can usually be managed with careful therapy, and it is rather gratifyingly rare!  Especial thanks have to go to my parents who have managed to maintain a profound interest in every quirk and detail of my condition for the duration.  They haven’t actually met the Prof. (my long-suffering consultant), but I am quite sure he felt the full weight of their scrutiny as he intoned his solemn pronouncement, and the echo of their cheer in the yelp of delight from my side of the consulting desk.   MG isn’t the cutest condition in the neuro-zoo, but it can usually be tamed, and has a better prognosis than some of the others that were eying me up rather predatorily.  

So it hasn’t been the most fun wintertime in the world – I guess I am fortunate to have never before experienced the exhaustion and debilitating effects of chronic pain - but I am truly grateful to local friends and neighbours who have been so supportive  - feeding me, fetching in the coal, driving me to A&E, or just calling round to see how I was doing.  You are all very lovely.  Thank you.

And to those of you with the forbearance, patience and wild optimism to place calligraphy commissions with me in anticipation of my recovery: it will be a few weeks yet, but I am already re-exercising my eyes and my fingers in preparation, and grateful to have something to entice me back to the scriptorium.  The WARM scriptorium I might add, not only because of this gorgeous spring weather, but more especially, because I have finally taken the leap to an oil-fired, automatic central heating system.  It is a little odd to have the labour and grime of my old coal stove replaced by the padlock on an oil tank and a vase of flowers … but I am learning to live with it.  My neighbour is basking in the warmth of the residue from my coal store, whilst the old, swept-out coal shed has proved to be an excellent place to store those brand new winter tyres …

As we celebrate this Easter the gift of transition from one Pope to the next, there is a discernible springtime air of hope and expectancy.  In the same way that this season’s new scions of growth are pretty much the same as last season’s, yet intrinsically new and novel, so I am hopeful that this new charism with which we have been gifted, may be able to speak the age old truth of God, of Christ, of Easter, in a new voice: a voice which we might be able to attend to eagerly and with excitement; a voice which might be heard.  I sense that there are many people waiting, who are ready to listen.

Springtime & Easter Blessings on you all.

Rachel

(Hermit of the Diocese of Nottingham).