“The happiness that comes in winter, the spots of sunlight on the wall !” — Three photos of the winter sun on and inside the Memorial (Unitarian) Church, Cambridge

The Memorial (Unitarian) Church on Emmanuel Road, Cambridge
I spent most of today inside at my desk catching up with various bits of correspondence, beginning to write a short address for a wedding taking place the week after next and meeting with the Chairman of the congregation. But during my lunch break I took half an hour out to stroll around the park (Christ's Pieces) in the beautiful winter sunshine. The light turned out to be perfect for taking a well-lit shot of the church and also the neighbouring buildings designed by Charles Humphrey (click on a photo if you want to enlarge it). Amazingly the busy road was mercifully free of traffic and stopped vehicles.

By the time I got back into my study the low sun was streaming into my study and so I also took the two photos below before I began to turn my attention back to the admin. But, before doing that, for a few minutes more, I luxuriated happily in the warmth of the sun. It was something which, naturally enough for me, reminded me of what is perhaps my favourite passage of Nietzsche's found in his 1886 preface to “Human, All-Too Human” (1879):

The mantelpiece in my study
“A step further in convalescence: and the free spirit again draws near to life—slowly, to be sure, almost reluctantly, almost mistrustfully. It again grows warmer around him, yellower, as it were; feeling and feeling for others acquire depth, warm breezes of all kinds blow across him. It seems to him as if his eyes are only now open to what is close at hand. He is astonished and sits silent: where had he been? These close and closest things: how changed they seemed! what bloom and magic they have acquired! He looks back gratefully—grateful to his wandering, to his hardness and self-alienation, to his viewing of far distances and bird-like flights in cold heights. What a good thing he had not always stayed “at home,” stayed “under his own roof” like a delicate apathetic loafer! He had been beside himself: no doubt of that. Only now does he see himself—and what surprises he experiences as he does so! What unprecedented shudders! What happiness even in the weariness, the old sickness, the relapses of the convalescent! How he loves to sit sadly still, to spin out patience, to lie in the sun! Who understands as he does the happiness that comes in winter, the spots of sunlight on the wall! They are the most grateful animals in the world, also the most modest, these convalescents and lizards again half turned towards life:—there are some among them who allow no day to pass without hanging a little song of praise on the hem of its departing robe. And, speaking seriously, it is a radical cure for all pessimism (the well-known disease of old idealists and falsehood-mongers) to become ill after the manner of these free spirits, to remain ill a good while, and then grow well (I mean “better”) for a still longer period. It is wisdom, practical wisdom, to prescribe even health for oneself for a long time only in small doses” (Friedrich Nietzsche: “Human, All-Too Human” trans. R. J. Hollingdale, CUP 1996, pp. 8-9).

Some of the bookshelves in my study

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