Over the last few weeks Sunday afternoons have become a time to do something different! Years ago they were, for me at least, a time for sleeping as I slipped into that soporific Sunday sensation - but recently two of my friends and I have slipped into the challenge of visiting places that at least one of us haven't been before! This afternoon was a late start and we found ourselves down the road at the Cardiff Barrage, watching the water rising, the gates opening and the bridges lifted open for yachts and boats to squeeze back into the Bay. Last week we were at Caerleon clambering around the Roman Ruins. The week before that we were at the museum at St Fagan's. You get the picture that all of these places are really quite local. Sometimes when things are so close we make less effort to experience them - after all, we can do it any time! Nearness sometimes means never!
There is so much on our doorstep - on every doorstep - and we overlook them so easily, so that visitors to the place where we live can often see more of our own neighbourhood than we have ever seen ourselves. Perhaps that's the difference between a tourist and a resident. Residents take it all for granted and tourists seek things out and ooh! and ahh! at the sights and sounds.
Perhaps it's much the same with our own lives. We can take it all for granted: our gifts and glad rags, the landmarks and beauty spots of our lives, the things to see and share. The Gospel Reading at Mass this morning was the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector with a lesson in humility. Humility, of course, has nothing to do with low self esteem or a lack of self worth. It actually means acknowledging all that is good and worthwhile in our lives and attributing it to God, whilst realistically realising that the failures and fallings are very often a result of own weakness. Mmm, now I wonder where we'll end up next weekend? Who knows! We could go as far afield as two streets away or into town or back down the bay. No matter how far we go, life really is quite interesting on your own doorstep!