The House of Stories has been the House of Plague for two weeks. Any small animals in the vicinity are wearing masks, except for the squirrels who are hiding under their beds in case Apple comes round with her cordial. One of my dad's old jokes was that flu is the result of leaving the window open, as in 'I opened the window and in flew enza', but it ain't funny when you're whimpering quietly under the duvet.
However, I'm back, thanks be to God, today I was back at church for the first time in two weeks, and it's Advent Sunday, the first Sunday of the watching, waiting and waking up time. One of my favourite Sundays, and the church's New Year. For the first time, we had a Posada.
In case you're not familiar with this, the Posada is a set of figures - Mary, Joseph, and the donkey - who need a place to stay in the nights leading up to Christmas, and families take turns to welcome them into their homes for a night. The figures have their own ministry, as they help us to think about hospitality, and homelessness, and recognising God when he turns up on our doorsteps. Our rector talked a bit about each of the characters, and we all had tea lights. We could light our tea lights for Joseph - the man who wanted to get out of this situation, but stayed - Mary, who had so many preparations to think of - or the donkey, faithfully carrying other people and their problems.
When the rector said that the donkey is the one who carries us when we need help, Tony and I decided that we are each other's donkeys, which may be one of the nicest things we've ever called each other. But the reason I lit a candle for the donkey is because the donkey plods on and does what it has to do, even though it doesn't have a clue what's going on. I totally identify with that donkey.