Saturday Ramble: Resolutions, fasts and Rowan Williams
My new year’s resolution for 2013 is to spend one day every week fasting. And I mean fasting: nothing for 24 hours except cold water and cups of green tea.
I’ve dabbled with this regime before but only for a day or two. This time it’s serious.
The big question is, should it be on different days each week, or on one particular weekday, and which one? Looking through my collection of old diaries only Saturdays are consistently clear of events. Besides, I dislike Saturn’s day almost as much as I enjoy the Sun’s weekly outing.
Plus, a healthy food-free Saturday will set one up for the day of rest, not to mention a clear-headed start to the working week.
What’s not to like? Well, one has to get through the fast day itself and during the nation’s favourite feast and booze-up time. I can report that the first fast is rocketing by with just the evening to go.
There was a recent Horizon programme on the BBC which investigated a two-day a week fast, but the jokey scientist involved was allowed 600 calories a day — what a wimp!
However, after the allotted timeframe, all his vital signs showed marked improvement, clearing him from the at-risk register for the usual batch of male, heart-related problems.
So, how is mine going? I spent the day lying in bed until mid-afternoon reading the newspapers on the iPad, which I’m now using to write this column. Modern tech is not only about frivolity, you know.
My sister is fond of saying she hates Saturdays because of the relentless sound of sport echoing from radio and television. It is possible to insulate the jangling nerves from such din by walking out in the country, which is my favourite leisure occupation. Hence the generic title of this column: Saturday Ramble, which incidentally is often written on Sundays.
She’s right, though, except when it includes Test Match cricket and a rugby international or two. But I’ve already foresworn them on my designated day. I hope the sacrifice will be rewarded.
I intend to spend the evening of this first fast day watching Rowan Williams’s superb film Goodbye to Canterbury on the iPlayer for the second time. It was made by the BBC to commemorate his period as Archbishop of Canterbury, which has just ended, and is a must-see if you have not done so already. As I write, it only has a few days of iPlayer time left, so hurry.
It reveals a very relaxed Rowan, with little there to remind us of the Leftie politician, dubbed Beardie, that so infuriated many would-be supporters during his time in office.
Indeed, here he is positively mystical, taking us into the Cathedral’s “core”, the Choir, where the old pre-Henry VIII monastery once stood. His description of life there is eye-opening.
The monks were “wrestling with Eternity on behalf of the rest of us”. Moreover, they knew how to “contact God” and spent their time rising above “this thin reality” to the richness above, for the benefit of all. This is heady stuff and it includes a thoughtful riff on the inevitability of death and how the monks prepared for it.
Watch it if you can. If you like our Midweek Mysticism columns, you will certainly enjoy it.
But that’s enough ramblings for today. It’s back to the penance for me.
… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.
Coming soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.