After the statement from the Archbishop of Sudan yesterday, things seemed rather more bracing here. So I found myself for the first time in eight days reaching for my Pectoral Cross this morning – the black, Fermanagh bog oak since you ask. Dress expresses mood.
So first I went into our completely remarkable Bible Study Group and suggested that we might take the opportunity which the study of scripture offered us this morning to explore some of the issues raised. Since the study was about the woman taken in adultery and issues of judgement, it seemed completely appropriate. So we did. Bible Study in this company is like Nigel Kennedy playing Bach. It’s all in the spaces.
Then I reflect on the experience of the rest of the day. Alison and I compared notes and found that throughout the day we had been exposed to heroic stories of bishops and their spouses – completely humbling stories of commitment and sacrifice .. stories from spouses of families left behind, of careers sacrificed and of extraordinary labour on behalf of the poor and the voiceless. What is common to many of these stories is how important it is to be members of the Anglican Communion.
I spent an hour with Archbishop Stephen of Myanmar who has links with our congregation in Kirkcaldy and came and had a meal with us last year. I suspect he shared with me but a fraction of the story of his ministry and his people. I simply give thanks that he is where he is.
We then went down to the Cathedral to meet the young people of our Provincial Youth Network who are taking responsibility for the Labyrinth in the Crypt. They represent faith, commitment and good humour. We shared a meal with them afterwards.
And finally .. We went to the evening visit to the Cathedral. Empty of visitors, long shadows in the Crypt. It reminded me of Susan Howatch’s description of the great Cathedral at Starbridge glowing in the evening light. We ended by standing in a circle by candlelight around the shrine of Beckett high at the east end of the Cathedral. Misty-eyed again, I’m afraid, as I began to link in my mind the martyrdom of Beckett with those extraordinary stories of obedient, resolute and joyful sacrifice which I had been hearing all day.
That is the Anglican Communion – precious beyond imagining.
So tomorrow, like all good pussy cats, we’re off to London to visit the Queen. It’s cassocks only. Apparently the Spanish-speaking bishops are engaged in energetic discussion as to whether this means what it says. I think they should wait for a reading of both temperature and wind strength. Of which more tomorrow.