I love Easter.
People talk of “thin” places. For me, Easter is a “thin” time… a time when all my nerve endings seem ultra-sensitive to the amazing presence of God. It is the best day of the entire year. Christmas is nothing in comparison.
Since moving, Easter has been the one day when I feel ever so slightly homesick for the Isle of Wight. There’s something about the way we’ve always celebrated Easter on the Island. Now, our church here has a sunrise service, just as we did on the Island, and provides an Easter Morning Breakfast before the morning service, just as they did on the Island. But somehow it seems more sanitised, more “proper”, more “church” – held at the tennis club with microphones and seats – not quite the same rawness as huddled on the concrete cricket strip on the recreation ground. And even the breakfast feels different.
And so it was that we decided to return “home” for Easter this year. The ferry fare justified by the fact that the bungalow needed cleaning through before the tenant moves in this week. So a day trip wouldn’t be enough – overnight seemed too short a stay for how much we were spending – travelling Friday would have been extortionate – so Thursday it was. Hotel? Too expensive. B&B? All booked up apart from those that were too expensive. Stay with friends? Too restrictive.
I’d vowed never to go camping again.
Well, I’d vowed never to go camping again unless I had a proper bed to sleep on. So, a quick trip to Argos. After all, camping WAS the only option. And the campsite in East Cowes was tied in a deal with Red Funnel which seriously reduced our ferry fare. So, blithely ignoring the weather forecast, we packed tent and sleeping bags, camping table and chairs, brand new campbed and not-so-new airbeds, and off we went.
It was brill. 😀
The campsite was beautiful – overlooking the sea. The weather was mixed -torrential rain and cutting winds contrasting with brilliant sunshine. Brilliant sunshine with bitterly cold atmosphere, I hasten to add, but it was pretty even if it was freezing. Sleeping was fine on my comfy new campbed, all wrapped up in sleeping bag and duvet and several layers of pyjamas. It wasn’t me who was complaining. No, it was the Explorer Scout. It’d be cruel of me to mention that the boy forgot to pack jumpers, forgot to pack pyjamas, forgot to pack a warm sleeping bag (“MY two-season bag should have been warm enough, it is spring, after all!”), and wriggled so much during the night that he first fell OFF his airbed and then managed to pop the stopper and find himself very deflated in the middle of the night.
Cleaning the bungalow was … er… well, I can’t particularly say I found it easy… and I can’t particularly honestly say that I did an extremely thorough job as a result… but I did it… and managed not to be toooooooooo resentful of how spacious and lovely it is in comparison with our tiny tiny flat (which I do really like but which is just that bit too small, that bit too expensive, that bit too close to the pub and the sewage farm!).
We managed a “grockle day” too.. though a bit difficult to decide what to do seeing as we’d planned to go to the beach (toooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cold) and had a sense of “we’ve been there before” for everything else. So we went to the donkey sanctuary. Always a winner. And free 😀 (This latter was an essential factor in our planning seeing as our arrival at the isle of wight coincided exactly with my overdraft limit being reached!).
The best bit, though, was the look on peoples’ faces at each of our “home” churches on the Island and the former colleague we dropped in on for coffee. What made it better was that it was the boy they saw first – the boy who’s considerably taller than last time they saw him. We relished the “I’m sure I know you from somewhere” moment, suddenly desolving from puzzlement to surprise and then pleasure when the penny finally dropped. It was lovely to be welcomed with so many open arms and expressions of delight. Home indeed. (My current home church isn’t one where hugs and kisses are the norm…) Sad, though, to realise that everyone is getting older – all my Isle of Wight friends were older than me – and the unspoken “Is so-and-so still alive” which accompanied every conversation made me realise how lucky I am now to have friends in every age bracket, most of them the same age or younger, now that I live in suburbia.
I love the Isle of Wight. It is still my home – far more so than the town where I was born and grew up – and we seemed simply to slot back in as if we’d never been away. But it is lovely to know that I love my current home too. I feel so settled and so part of life here – I wouldn’t want to move back.