Sunday, March 07, 2010

Retirement landmark

The weather was kind enough to allow me to cycle to church for the eight o'clock this morning, and that meant I was a bit fresher and more awake than usual when I went to the altar. I love the early morning time of quiet prayer. But, I'm a night bird, and getting to sleep early enough to wake up feeling fresh has always been difficult, making it an effort to get into gear. Trouble is, on clear evenings I love to go out and look at the stars in the silence of night before surrendering to sleep, and that equals Late. Among the early worshippers was a young woman from Malaysia who's been to the eight o'clock before, she's on a work placement in the University Registry. She said that the temperature at home was 40 degrees centigrade. In Cardiff, it was just above zero. She didn't seem to be suffering from the cold like those of us present, two or three times her age!

At the Parish Eucharist I counted half a dozen single women among unfamiliar faces, in addition to the average three dozen regulars. Unusual. I wonder why? I spoke with two of them - one was from Italy, here on a language course for three months. The other was a student passing through from Freiburg im Breisgau, a University town near Basel and the Swiss border, gateway to the Black Forest. It's marvellous the way visitors discover St John's, and seem receptive to our very traditional ways of worship and hospitality. I'd like to think that doing things well and wholeheartedly is the secret.

As we finished the evening office of Compline, preceded by Lenten address, our young Malaysian returned with her camera. She wanted to take photos of the daffodils that still decorated the church after last Monday's St David's Day service, and Margaret's funeral to send home. She was so disappointed to discover they'd all been spirited away after the Parish Eucharist. However, I was able to offer her the consolation of access to the Parish web photo archive, where I'd posted, Monday night, 65 photos taken by Pauline and me on my camera, and by Anna Morell, Archbishop's press officer, on hers. The album is here.

The offer took a little time to deliver. I couldn't remember the long web address of the photos, so I needed to pick it up on-line and write it down for her. Simple? No. The church office is so cold that some times computer boot-up procedure, meant to be 2 minutes under Linux, twice as long for Windows (I run both systems in the office in case one has a hissy fit on me in an emergency) seems to pause forever in mid-process as if the system is broken. Just like me getting up in the morning. So I sat for an age in freezing cold when I should have been upstairs in the choir vestry making an efficient start to the PCC meeting, due to begin five minutes after the end of the service. I arrived twenty minutes after the due start time, and fifteen minutes of that delay was waiting for the computer to perform. Perhaps we should put thermal lagging for the office computer on the next PCC agenda.

It was a good meeting, driven by shared awareness of key items of interest, rather than my steering of the agenda. This was my last full PCC meeting. There were no expressions of sentiment, just the usual business, with lots of full and free exchange, as it would be, whether I was there to chair the meeting or not. The life and mission of the church has to continue, with or without a Vicar in the inspirational moments and in dull routine periods. These are people who keep their eye on the ball.

I feel so privileged to have had this spell as their leader, and am happy to know that, no matter how well or badly the bosses discharge their responsibility to re-appoint, St John's will continue active in service as the spiritual heart of the city centre.

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