So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog

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Frohnleichnam or the Feast Corpus Christi – Part two

The morning started out a bit cold so I wore my Trachten jacket over the Dirndl, but when I arrived at the council place, most of the women had either the Festival Tract on which is black, or a dark shawl, I felt I stood out like a sore thumb, even though they said I looked ‘Fesch’ (smart).  I chatted to a friend who’d studied English with me, which helped my nerves.  I couldn’t lose the jacket having come in someone else’s car.  We then got ordered to line up, three abreast, starting on the left foot.  It was easy to follow the band up the hill to the church and we piled in.

The service wasa typical Mass, with lots of bobbing up and down – the Priest even caught the congregation out once and we did a quick down then up!  Loads of incense and clanging bells.  Sadducees I cried inside.  I just couldn’t do the dabbing of the Holy water, the bobbing at the pew end,the genuflection and crossing myself.  I was reminded of how Paul says not to offend those weaker than you in the faith and should observe their customs. Should I make myself as not part of something when I was actually taking part?  Or should I stand up for the long gone persecuted Protestants in the region who suffered for their faith by taking part in this thing but adhering to my beliefs? I don’t know.  When Communion took place I stood aside.  Its seems more effecient than our service  with no wine and a conveyor belt of hosts, quickly over to save time.  Deeply spiritual?  Hmmmmm. Once I calmed down about my bright jacket I managed to relax a bit.

Service over, we lined up outside the church and marched off behind the band and did three stops around the village.  Being on the left, I ended up being on the front as we turned to the left to make a line.  I could hear a couple of women going ‘left, right, no, right left’ behind me and wanted to giggle.  By the third stop, I stopped jumping at the cannon but still couldn’t do the crossing myself.  Maybe they would just put it down to my foreigness! I could agree with the prayers and did so, they were all based on the gospels and simply said Jesus s the bread of life and no more. We marched back to the church through the village where the Priest went back in the church and the Firebrigade, us, the brother hood all marched to the Pub!  I had my photo taken as the new mad foreign member and we all had a free drink.  The band was sitting with us and suddenly took up their instruments and played a polka – turned out you could request a tune.  My neighbour asked for one for me, and I was  sooooo relieved I didnt have to get up and dance! I chatted to others at the table, and then was quiet at others pretty much as I’d be in the UK.  Soon it was time to go and I felt like giggling as I said I can’t come next time as its our Protestant church service!

So I left feeling it was ok.  There was an assumption in all the readings that Jesus is the bread of life, and there was no dogmatic saying you must believe the host actually turns into his body.  I was accepted by the gang.  As tradition as compared to belief it was quite ok.  I think I’ll go again, Harvest festival I have no problems with and when I get the kit I can go with the gang to the more cultural festivals rather than religious. I think for most there, it was custom not faith here. Maybe its a way to make links between the two churches. Another Austrian experience under the belt!

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After Easter

My Easter tree and through the window, snowing!!

It snowed on Easter day which is the first time for us and the weather went cold. Great for the last of the skiers but a bit of a shock down here as we’d got into spring mode!

Easter turned out to be unexpectedly a blessing for us, and was a great day.  We both woke quite early and so decided to go to the Church service at Murau, our mother church.  The service itself was very traditional (I’m being tactful here) despite really hard word being done by the Pastorin. To our surprise, she invited to lunch along with the other  English family. We had a great time, great food, great chat, although mostly in English which always makes me feel a bit guilty.  Is it a compliment that people here only speak to us in German?

Then we trundled home and then had an evening meal with the Lungau English gang, which was again a real blast.  What a day!

Paggy is on the mend, just waiting for an all clear from the physiotherapist that he’s mobile  enough to go home.  He says he’ll discuss about the key when he comes home, but this time I wont let him evade it.  He even talked Dave into buying him a beer and sneaking it into the ward for him – at the time it seemed funny, but now we’re both having kittens and dreading getting told off when we next visit.

It’s now like another start to the year, Pentecost and Spring to look forward to, so why am I yo-yoing between great joy and manic frustration?

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On the right path at last?

Our local Protestant church (Evangelische in German) holds special services for holiday makers in the summer and I’ve long said that some of them should be in English and so advertised. I was told I needed to go to some meeting in the autumn and when this came about I found I was being asked to join the equivalent of the PCC.  I just said yes, without thinking or asking God and put it to the back of my mind.  I was also later asked to be on what is here called the Presbyterium, which Dave has called the Inner circle. Again I said yes and forget all about it. We’re members which mostly means that under the Austrian system we get an annual bill for Church tax which enrages Dave, but it’s certainly not 10%! To write about the Austrian Protestantism, would take pages, suffice to say this is a mainly Catholic country and read persecution down the years!

One Church service was the voting Sunday, and if I’ve understood correctly, you either agreed to all the names, or you could cross some off.  It was at this point it dawned on me that I really hadn’t talked to God about it at all and so apologised for my arrogance and offered my services, to act for him, but on his agenda not mine. I still felt, well, sort of blank inside.

So last month I went to the first meeting of the new PCC. I did consider taking some marmalade and kipper sandwiches (see Vicar Of Dibley)!   I was also voted onto the Presbyterium and got to me some wonderful new people.  However, the point of writing this is to say how it is I have come to know that I’m on the right track.  I’d been feeling exhausted again for a while, off colour too. One of the ladies put her arm around me and a felt a surge of warmth and peace and rest, without feeling tired.  The whole evening was just completely relaxing, and even when we had to fill out some forms (my written German is appalling while I can read novels and newspapers) God gave me some short answers.  All wished me well on the journey home, it was a freezing night, but I drove back with a sense of peace compared to the tension when I drove down. The next morning, I felt well, I was up, I was full of joy, and I wasn’t tired despite the late night.  God was telling me this is what he wants me to do, I really have to rely on him for the German, and be a conduit for him, not my own agenda, because without him this would be impossible.  I can’t go back to the Burg, I will need all my Sundays free in the summer.YAY – I’m on the right path!

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Easter and Anna gets angry!

Completely spurious piccy of happy sleeping pig we saw when out walking!

I’ve been very lazy following Easter, and having had a prod from my totally brilliant daughter, I’m back typing.  It snowed just on the Wednesday before and the garden was under three inches by the morning.   I was quite surprised at how cross I felt, I just didn’t want snow any more, I wanted to play in my garden!   In a way it was my own fault, 30 minutes before the blizzard struck, I was out there spreading compost on the flower bed!

We had a lazy time over the holiday, enjoying each others company, walking n the hills, going shopping – but ending up not buying anything!  Having just been editing my diary excerpts for this, I realise how far we’ve come since we’ve arrived.  Praise God! The mountains seem to be clearer of snow earlier this year and there were loads of fornicating frogs in the streams as we walked.

Good Friday had me feeling under attack as BT decided to cancel my email address – ok so I’ve not been a customer for a few years, but they could have warned me!  So with this hanging over me, we went to   the Church Service.  Everyone was lovely and Heidi the assistant pastor said she hadn’t known about my 50th birthday because we’re not members.  Duh, we hadn’t thought of it either, we seem to have slipped through the net.  So now we’ll meet up and do the paperwork – and being Austria it’ll be about ten forms in triplicate. Maybe now we’ll get more involved, is this simple thing what has been holding us back, or has God kept it back until we were ready?  So I sat in the service, constantly going back to what to do about the email address, when I began to realise, I was under a form of attack.  So I just said, right, you ain’t going to spoil things for me and I rejoiced. The thought also came that I must be getting close to something if the devil’s (it) having a go at me.  When we had communion, I felt that lovely closeness of such love surrounding us all, we were all truly celebrating the greatest gift of all.   

Dave was blighted by a migraine so he missed the Easter fire, but for the first time for maybe years, I wasn’t cross and didn’t do  the self pitying –  we came here to do stuff together, I’m always on my own, blah, blah,  I actually felt sorry for him! There was wind this year, so the smoke blew away from the Lungau in the early morning.   

Its with some trepidition that I write this next bit, wouldn’t wish to alienate anyone but………Easter Sunday and the attack continued.  I never usually bother too much about news, but Sky came up with some Government minister having said that following the reported case, Christian couples should have the right to refuse to board gay couples when the B&B is in their own house.  Then news man trotted out a token gay who gave all the usual hard done by rubbish they come out with.  I was SO cross, England just panders to the minorities, it’s not equality for all or a democracy anymore. Orwell was right in Animal  Farm, all are equal but some more than others.  I’m not banging gays and their rights here, but the inequality. Christianity is the faith of England, and every time another excuse arises for Christian bashing the press are there. Perhaps we should say we are a minority group now too.  We are being prejudiced against, it’s always the rights of everyone else, gays, muslims, wombats etc over the Christian.  We have the same religious rights as other religions (see Bill of Human rights) but that is forgotten. Bet the story wouldn’t have made even a murmur if the couple had been muslim, its ok for them to do what they flippin well like.   Then Brian Houston preached on TV how all is not what it seems to be, as on the Cross. To the disciples it seemed that all was lost, but in fact it was the greatest thing in the world that was happening.  This gave me peace, and later in the day, Sky actually had the lawyer for the couple on, who said whatever law the gays were using, it equally applied to the Christians applying their religious rights and it could even go to European courts. I’M SO GLAD I DON’T LIVE IN ENGLAND ANYMORE!

And the attacks go on, it took me a whole morning on the phone and net to get a new Austrian email address, and sort out my mobile.  Dave didn’t get paid as much as expected, so we’ve really got to watch things for yet another month.  I had a real tantrum when I saw the bank statement, then for perhaps the first time realised how childish I was being!  We have more then enough. The washing machine filter got blocked and I nearly flooded the hall as well as the bathroom.  I’ve broken a plate and the loo brush holder.  Our daughter was ill and it was tempting to descend into worry and frustration, but we prayed for her and rebuked the illness, result, the next day she was better.  Maybe its just life and I’m ascribing (it) too much power.  But I prefer to believe, something great is happening soon!

Yesterday I got a letter saying the new job starts on Monday, two weeks earlier than as expected, so my blogging may be a bit erratic for a while, but I’ve got some things stored!