Friday, 13 August 2010

While I breathe I pray

I've been on holiday for half a week. It's been good to get out of London.

Cycling has been good; in London I've not been riding as much as I'd like, but I've not become as desperately unfit as I'd thought. Cycling is significantly kinder to my joints than walking is. I've been taking advantage of the fact that most countryside churches are left unlocked, going there to rest. Sometimes I'll say the Office or a psalm but more often I simply sit and breathe in the calm, quiet stillness.

Sweetie and I stay in a B&B; during the day he does martial arts training and I go cycling, and we meet up for meals and lovely relaxed evenings together.

The other night we were watching the Perseid meteor shower. It had rained, so the sky was lovely and clear. The first verses of Psalm 19 were made for stargazing, and I remembered them as we sat there:

1 The heavens are telling the glory of God • and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2   One day pours out its song to another • and one night unfolds knowledge to another
3   They have neither speech nor language • and their voices are not heard,
4   Yet their sound has gone out into all lands • and their words to the ends of the world.

It's been a lovely few days of that sort of quietness.

Yesterday I cycled to Glastonbury. I paid my money to enter the ruins of the Abbey and walked around the grounds with the other tourists -- pilgrims, even? -- mindful of And overwhelmed by the history of the place. Of course the line between history and legend is rather blurry there.

In a chapel with an altar I saw a notice politely informing me that "No services, prayers, music, ceremonies or rituals are permitted, without the written permission of the Custodian."

What a contrast with the unassuming country church where I'd stopped to rest on the way there. What a contrast with the spacious firmament on high, the stars ringing their silent witness.

My first instinct was sadness. I can understand that with so many different faith groups making some claim on the area it is necessary to have someone decide who gets to do what. But it makes me sad that humans have such trouble sharing, such trouble expressing faith in a way that doesn't threaten or condemn.

I suppose I'm one of these rebellious types, though... a ban on unauthorised liturgy doesn't, can't, stop me praying. A written notice cannot silence the music written on my heart. The notice really doesn't make sense. Sadness bubbled over into chuckles, then peals of laughter as I realised that, too, was a prayer. ...their voices are not heard, yet their sound has gone out into all lands and their words to the ends of the world.


it's margaret said...

Oh! How wonderful! And what a wonderful presentation of the psalm --thank you, and welcome home!

Song in my Heart said...

Thank you, Margaret.

TEF said...

That's a very beautiful thing. Glad you enjoyed your holiday.

it's margaret said...

Hope you've had a chance to get some more biking in this month. Peace to you, Song.

it's margaret said...

hope you are well.

Song in my Heart said...

I'm okay, bar the usual helping of Joint Crap; thanks for checking on me, Margaret.