THANK YOU SO MUCH to all the wonderful friends and well-wishers who have wished “many happy returns” on my 50th birthday. Happy returns abound in heart and mind. Jonathan Applebee’s train set was a joy when he and I were 10; bowled over by Taizé at 20; youngest Ruth, best birthday gift, at 30; barbecue at Ringway at 40; bacon sandwiches with Jilly and “If you’re happy and you know it” bellowed by our Active Angels at 50. I am happy, and I know it, and I really want to show it.

Brother Roger of Taizé wrote in 2000:

During his visit to Taizé on October 5, 1986, Pope John Paul II recalled the love his predecessor had for our community with words that inspired our gratitude: “I would like to express to you my affection and my trust with these simple words with which Pope John XXIII, who loved you so much, greeted Brother Roger one day: ‘Ah, Taizé, that little springtime!'” And John Paul commented: “My desire is that the Lord may keep you like a springtime that blossoms and that He keep you little, in the joy of the Gospel and the transparency of brotherly love.”

Oh! Taizé was indeed a little springtime for me, thirty years ago. J’espère retourner. But it only takes one visit there to be smitten forever, to recall the bonds of peace and of ecumenical love, to be forever caught up in worship offered by thousands, and God alone the object of it. I recall two young lads who’d fled Amin’s Uganda; a by then very venerable Lord MacLeod (of Iona) reliving his youth; Brother Roger beaming, worship teeming and brimming with loving and communal life. Loads of hot chocolate and Laudate Dominum. Poppy fields. Simple sunshine. Simple word. Simple prayer. Simple diet. Simple meal.

Radio 4s Prayer for the Day today was offered by Craig Gardner

Jesus … asked his friends to remember him with a simple meal. It could’ve turned into a morbid fascination, except that death was not the end for him. New life was born out of that most cruel of events, and in the moment of his resurrection a fresh future was unfolded, one that the church remembers regularly, a time when all tears are wiped away and every hurt is healed: it is a future to remember.

J’espère retourner: to a little springtime that blossoms and that keeps me little, in the joy of the Gospel and the transparency of love. Ecumenical FCA. Fellowship confessing a future to remember. Happy returns.