Yesterday afternoon I did something I last did in December 2004! I went into church to get ready to lead the evening service knowing that I had at least an hour to myself before anyone else arrived.
I'd forgotten that I used to do that.
And I'd forgotten how precious that time could be...
I realsied I'd forgotten that I'd forgotten
Even in summer, when it's still light, the atmosphere shifts as day draws on, a stillness seeps into (or is it out of?) the corners, the air seems to change its quality, I am more aware of the thousands of prayers the last vestiages of which still hang in the air. The smell of old (often damp) books, the creak of old pews or the squeak of chairs, the sound of a building at rest - or maybe, if it's not too heretical (and after all Jesus said stones could shout...) a building at prayer.
To sit quietly and savour the stillness. To slow down. To create a space for others to do the same. To pray for others. To enjoy the mysterious presence of God's absence. To be.
I recalled sitting in churches in Dibley, in Bolton, in Manchester where I had done the same in times past. I felt the interconnectedness that transcends geography and temporality. I stilled my soul in the presence of God.
I remembered, and I was glad.
(photo taken after the service)