Well I survived Trinity Sunday. I regard it as the most difficult Sunday in the year for the preacher. I’d settle for a draw.
We were in Holy Trinity, Stirling – another church with growing numbers of children and their parents – or is it the same set moving around with me? And the children are involved in ministry too. I reached the back of the church at the end of the service and found a little girl whose task seemed to be to push in a wedge to hold the door open. Seemed pretty important to me.
And finally – today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Arthur Ransome – the author who has provided for many of us children an environment as safe and comforting as the Anglican Church. This is the classic passage from the start of Swallows and Amazons:
Roger, aged seven, and no longer the youngest of the family, ran in wide zigzags, to and fro, across the steep field that sloped up from the lake to Holly Howe, the farm where they were staying for part of the summer holidays. He ran until he nearly reached the hedge by the footpath, then turned and ran until he nearly reached the hedge on the other side of the field. Then he turned and crossed the field again. Each crossing of the field brought him nearer to the farm. The wind was against him, and he was tacking up against it to the farm, where at the gate his patient mother was awaiting him. He could not run straight against the wind because he was a sailing vessel, a tea-clipper, the Cutty Sark. His elder brother John had said only that morning that steamships were just engines in tin boxes. Sail was the thing, and so, though it took rather longer, Roger made his way up the field in broad tacks.
I grew up and learnt to sail on Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh – pure Swallows and Amazons country. I think that passage is just about perfect – the child living in the world of imagination; the adult standing patiently waiting.
I can remember the first time I read that as a child and wondered what on earth was going on…I think I learned all I know about sailing from these books before I was ten!
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