Monday, 13 April 2009


Oh, what a few days.

Thursday, got to Dorset, walked around a lot. Went to Evening Prayer at Christchurch Priory, because it was there and I could. More said psalmody! But I was made quite welcome. Chickened out of going to Maundy Thursday services, partly because of my hosts' schedule and partly because I'm a big chicken.

Good Friday, walked some more. Spent a lot of time reading, thinking, reflecting; tried not to hide from my hosts too much. And of course, the performance in the evening.

Saturday, Holy Saturday I guess. Went for another walk. I walk a lot if I have the time and energy. I might have walked too far this time, my injured hip isn't very happy with me, but it was a good walk. I walked to Mudeford and along the beach there until I came to some cliffs. I sat and watched the tide coming in for a while. I took off my shoes and socks and let the cold eternal ocean wash my feet and couldn't help think of Maundy Thursday. Then I spent far too long on a train back to London, where I found we were out of certain essential items and so I went out for those and didn't get to any Saturday night vigil services. I was sorry not to.

Yesterday I spent in Leafy Suburb. I went to the 9.30am service at Leafy Suburb Church, and was delighted. The renewal of baptismal vows bit was difficult for me, in that I don't know which of these vows which were made for me when I was a baby are ones I feel I can make for myself. I have no real problems with the Father, the Creator, no problems with the Holy Spirit. But I do balk, I do clam up somehow, when we start talking about the Son. I have no problems singing about it. I have no problems talking about it in an abstract sense, in a sort of model-for-thinking-about-God way. But as much as I want to there are things I don't believe in the way I think the creeds mean them, not when they're the spoken word or the word on the page, and I can't say "I believe this" when I don't. Why am I so afraid to believe this?

Only singing works. I wish I knew why! I wish I knew whether what I believe when I sing is what I actually believe and my intellect is just getting in the way the rest of the time, or whether what I believe when I sing is some sort of ridiculous fantasy and my intellect is right to stop me believing it at other times. I wish I knew. I don't think I will be rid of this problem, this uncertainty, any time soon.

Nevertheless, I was grateful that the vicar was so thorough in her sprinkling of the congregation. There's so much water imagery in this desert faith... the Flood, the Red Sea, baptism. Ritual washing of hands, feet, souls. For a moment all of that was in the drop of water that landed on my cheek.

I'm still itchy about the Eucharist, still not sure whether I'd be welcome (formally or informally), but again, going up for a blessing seemed to be right, yesterday. The text leading up to it was different than on Tuesday. I was sorry not to have the Summary of Law. I missed the very Jewish blessings over the bread and wine. I don't really understand some of the differences, and I find myself wanting to. Is there a guide to C of E liturgy somewhere that's aimed at foreign heretics? I feel like I must be making context errors but I don't know what they are. I want to understand this.

Singing is meaningful to me and singing is, eventually, what I got: I had intended to stick around for Evensong anyway. I asked one of the choir members whether I might sing alto, if I came to the rehearsal in the afternoon... they've all heard me singing in the hymns at Evensong a few times now. I was welcomed with open arms by choir, musical director and clergy. So I sang my little heart out, in the rehearsal and in the service, and I'd do it all again today if I could. I won't say the performance was of a very high musical standard; the choir does very well for the amount of rehearsal and the spread of skills they have, but it's not what I'm used to at Academic Institution. But it meant something, and I believed every word I sang with every particle of my being. I managed to avoid tears but my eyes were quite ready to add their own water to my cheeks.

I think sung creeds and sung Eucharist might change my understanding and experience of Christianity in profound ways, with enough repetition and in an environment of loving kindness.

At the other church I at which I attend Evensong I don't think I would have the courage to ask to sing in the choir. I've been to about as many services by now, and people are welcoming enough, but there isn't the warmth of spirit. I think that when I am looking for a church to attend in the area of London I'm moving to, I need to look for somewhere that has the warmth of spirit that I can feel at Leafy Suburb Church. It may be a while before I can spare my Sunday mornings for singing in a choir but I hope to be able to do so at some point: it seems to be where I belong in church. There is a part of me that considers moving to Leafy Suburb, but it would make my commute to my existing teaching work, my existing social network, and Sweetie rather horrible, and wonderful as the people of Leafy Suburb Church are, I don't think I want to start over yet again. Leafy Suburb Church can't be the only one with that sort of community. That love must exist elsewhere. I hope I can find it, and add to it.

During the afternoon I had lunch with some choir members and then went for a walk. It was more of a sit than a walk really, I found a comfortable park bench and sat on it to read for a while, and then I walked a bit and found a comfortable tree to sit under and sat there reading for a while. My hip was hurting too much to do any serious walking. It's better today.

There has not been much time in all of this for reading teh internets. I may or may not catch up today in amongst various chores. Tomorrow it is nose back to the grindstone: I need to get the write-up for Big Project out of the way, as well as getting a good start on various other projects.


Doorman-Priest said...

I just want to sleep!!!

Song in my Heart said...

Thanks for dropping by. Wanting to sleep is entirely understandable. I think all Christian clergy should take Easter Monday as a day to sleep if necessary.

Crimson Rambler said...

Hello Song! I'm happy to make your acquaintance!

Song in my Heart said...

Hello Crimson Rambler, thanks for dropping by.

Kathryn said...

It was singing that made sense of it all for me...
It remains my most authentic route to worship. Thus the greatest reality for me this Easter was probably singing the Exultet - though offering a tiny fragment of the truth of Christ's love represented by broken bread was pretty real too.

Hope the week is gentle with you - you are working hard on so many levels at the moment.

Song in my Heart said...

It was singing that made sense of it all for me... It remains my most authentic route to worship.
It was always singing that kept me from losing it completely while I was growing up.

I missed hearing Deacon Friend singing the Exultet in Leafy Suburb Church because the transport would have been silly (Leafy Suburb is in Zone 5, on the other side of the river, and it takes nearly two hours to get home from there when a weekend service is running). I'm sorry I did. Foiled by geography again!

In terms of bread and wine the most real sense I had all week was at Seder on Wednesday. I was probably the most theist person there, and among representatives of my generation certainly the most knowledgeable about Judaism, and in the middle of it all I was thinking, "this is His body."

God does irony rather well.

Kathryn said...

She does indeed :-)