People were welcoming. There weren't that many of them and they were elderly- but, then, so are we. Is it permitted these days to draw attention to people with mental disabilities? Well, there were at least three of them there- including a sweet couple I'm used to seeing around the streets- who were acting as ushers. So this is a church that not only accepts people from the margins but gives them positions of responsibility. I like that.
A woman- who I think is one of the churchwardens- got us up to speed on parish history. They had a male vicar who was suffering from depression. He was replaced by a female vicar who never gelled with the congregation- and left suddenly and without explanation. So now they're without a priest. The guy who took yesterday's service is someone I was with at theological college. I don't think he recognised me, but I think he recognised Ailz- probably from the news stories several years back which characterised her as a "nude witch". Nice guy, bluff and ready, but actually quite shy. He preached rather a good sermon on Hardy's "Darkling Thrush".
That nude witch business is always going to be an obstacle to me putting a dog collar round my neck again. Most evangelicals- and they're the dominating force in the Cof E these days- see Wicca as evil. I gave a talk once in a local theological college- about Wicca- and heard afterwards that the students were plotting to reconsecrate the building I'd defiled. I googled the Bishop of Manchester and his suffragans yesterday and sized up the haircuts and thought- no, you're not people I'm going to be able to get alongside.
Because I'm happy to be the lost sheep who returns, but not if it means renouncing my Pagan past. In my theology, Christ is a god among gods- cousin to Hercules, Dionysos, Horus, John Barleycorn- a good myth, but not the only one. Also in my theology there's the Goddess- and Binah sits higher on the tree of life than Tiphareth.
Put it this way: I'm a superstitious, medieval christian. And I gravitate to the Lady Chapel.
But I'm wandering. I think one ought to go to one's local church and be part of one's local community- and I'm happy to find that our local church is a place I can feel at home in. I didn't really want to be jumping into the car and driving to a strange town every Sunday morning. The shabbiness is what I'm used to- and I like it how the lay people are keeping things going in spite of everything. I admire the doggedness. It's very English- in an Ealing comedy sort of a way- low key, unshowy, good-humoured. I'd like to think this is a place where Ailz and I- without drawing attention to ourselves- might actually get to be of some use.