It was the 18th century poet and hymn writer William Cowper who wrote "Variety's the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour." This has been brought home to me for the umpteenth time in the last 24 hours.
Yesterday afternoon and evening, I travelled up to Friargate Unitarian Chapel Derby for the last service of my student pastorate (which has been going on since last October). I've been running an engagement group called Building Beloved Community, and the half-dozen faithful attenders have entered wholeheartedly into the process; some wonderful deep sharing has taken place. During this last session, we all had a go at formulating a covenant for our congregations, which was both fascinating and challenging.
This was followed by the service at 6 pm. I was feeling kinda sad, because I have grown very fond of the Derby (and Mansfield and Hinckley) folk. I was just about to announce the last hymn when Elaine (Derby's Secretary) took the wind out of my sails completely by presenting me with a beautiful bunch of tulips and a book-token. I had been expecting nothing of the kind, and was totally blown away by their appreciation - it had been both a pleasure and a privilege to get to know them all and to serve them.
The journey back down the M1 in the rain went in a flash. I was riding on a tide of euphoria, feeling so very blessed and lucky. Drank a glass of wine and went to bed feeling very good.
Came downstairs this morning and went into the kitchen, or should I say bombsite? OK, I exaggerate slightly, it was only in its usual post-weekend mess - the dishwasher needed emptying; there was stuff all over the sides, and the floor needed sweeping. The bubble burst. I sighed and set to work, and in a few minutes, all was (relatively) pristine again (or at least clean and tidy enough to pass muster).
The thing that I find irritating (and am trying to rise above) is that it will all need doing again tonight, and tomorrow and tomorrow. Repetitive housework is seriously not my thing - it comes about number 576 on my list of priorities, and I'm pretty good at sitting at the computer surrounded by chaos, up to a certain point. Then it all gets to me, and I have to have a blitz. I envy people like my friend Ali, who seems to really enjoy housework, and whose house is always immaculate. But here's the thing: I'm not prepared to put in the work to make this possible, which must mean something. It's about finding a balance, I think.
So as I was standing with my arms up to the elbows in washing up, I consciously tried (again) to count my blessings - that I was able to use hot, soapy water to wash up with, which was available by simply turning on a tap; that I owned all these things that needed washing, so that meal preparation is an easy task; and yes, that variety is the very spice of life. Last night, the goodwill and connection I felt with the Unitarians at Derby was wonderful. But I couldn't live on those heights all the time - it is good to be brought back down to earth by a spot of domesticity.