Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap year day

Friday lunchtime Eucharist is always the best attended of the week, generally around a dozen people. Today was no exception, but with the nave closed for scaffolding transfer, I had to put up notices again to re-direct worshippers into the chancel via the sacristy. It's eighteen months since we last had to hold a Eucharist in the sacristy itself, last time due to the nave closure occasioned by its use as a Doctor Who film set.

As most of those who attend Fridays are long standing regulars, I was somewhat surprised at the difficulty some of them had at finding their way across the churchyard from the south porch entrance to the sacristy door, a distance of no more than forty yards, with the one entrance visible from the other. It struck me how much we're creatures of habit. Unless part of our habit is looking and taking note of our environment as we pass through it, whether we need to or not, many things may escape us.

I remember Lady Crawford an Alexandrian Greek aristocrat who lived many years in Geneva taking the most extraordinary circuitous routes from the rive gauche to the rive droite, rather than the most direct, because the way she had first succeeded in finding her way across town by car, by trial and error, was still her preferred route, even though it was far from convenient to do so, in the eyes of anyone who'd studied the maps or the traffic signs. Maybe there's something about cities that encourage many citizens to inhabit social space in the most confining way possible, to shore up their confidence, or avoid the fear of being lost or out of control.

Adrian Berry's peacemaking workshop yesterday posed questions for me about how it's possible to make progress to resolve conflict in any culture of compliance that is over protective and anxiously limits peoples' freedom and discretion. I raised the issue, and he wisely responded by saying how important it is to get people to identify their fears - name their demons, I'd say, in order to help them overcome constraints in a reconciliation process.

Any peace-making enterprise depends upon people being able to discover that they share aspirations in common. In order to reach there, we have to overcome the barrier imposed by our fears in order to examine freely how we may succeed.

In a nutshell - What do we want? What are we afraid of? Two questions, phrased differently, but constantly present in the discourses of Jesus with those who came to him in need.

After the Eucharist, ten people for this week's Lent talk, despite the challenge of listeners having to find their ways into the chancel for the lecture via the sacristy door. And, it was raining.

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