January 11th, 2009


I felt a momentary twinge of shame as we were gathering our books together after the service. If I hadn't been so wilfull when my marriage broke up and my faith collapsed- if I hadn't walked away- I could have been a part of this always. In fact I could have been up there at the business end of the church conducting the service this very morning. But , then again, if I had toughed out the crisis I wouldn't have put myself in the way of gaining wisdom- or at least not the kind of wisdom I have now- and I probably wouldn't have met Ailz (though I'm not so sure about that). So- no- I'm not going to apologise for the choices I made- destructive though some of them were.  They brought me to where I am now.  As the Blessed Julian says, "Sin is behovely".

I just looked that word up to make sure it means what I think it means. It does. It means something like "proper and right and befitting our station." (Great word- what a pity it's slipped out of common usage!) We're here in the flesh to learn, and if we didn't sin we wouldn't learn.  When we accept incarnation we accept that we're going to make some bloody awful mistakes- and that this is allowed for in God's economy.  The full quotation- which I know from Eliot (of course) and not from reading the Revelations of Divine Love- is "Sin is behovely, but all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."

I was a lousy priest.  Perhaps that's harsh- but I was very young and gauche and I didn't get what it was all about- not at all. The church didn't really lose much when it lost me.

There was a baptism this morning- of a young mother and her baby son.  Baptism is about belonging- and belonging is good. We can't do this job on our own. It's like we're in a caravan making our way across the desert. We keep one another's spirits up as we swing along together. There's strength in numbers.

All through the latter part of the service I had a very strong sense of being surrounded by those numbers- and not just by the  visible community in the pews around me- but by the communion of saints, the companionable spirits, friends, guides, comforters, fellow pilgrims.  I've no doubt that there were very many souls in that building that we couldn't see. No doubt at all.

So how come I never felt that in the past when it was my business to preach it- but I can feel it now?  If I'd have been able to feel it then I'd never have left.  Ah, but then, again- back to where we started- perhaps I was meant to leave.....