Can I mention something that is not often spoken of, but which I value exceedingly? Our 1.00 p.m. prayers. Each day, faithfully, one of the clergy or more likely a lay member of the congregation, stands up at 1.00 p.m. and asks visitors to be quiet for a moment while we have prayers. I am very rarely present at this moment, but I know it goes on each day. Last Saturday Paul Twomey was on the rota, as he often is on a Saturday. The women decorating the cathedral for harvest and the visitors in St Anne’s at that moment stood quietly or sat. Paul took the prayers perfectly for the occasion, one lady, who entered at the moment they started, stood still and bowed her head. The moment of public prayer in the midst of busyness reminds us that what we are about is not concerning who we are, but whom it is we worship; as with music; as with artwork; as with the pause and the silence and the echoes of prayer that resound in St Anne’s and thousands of other churches.
Glory of a different, but of no less sacredness, shone over the sea off Ramore Head yesterday morning. Rarely can Helen and I remember just such a wonderful Autumn day. The sea was mill-pond still as a cormorant skimmed the water, so low its wings must have brushed the surface, the clarity of the light allowed us to see to Islay and beyond to the north-east. On the shore youngsters with ribbon transects learnt the difference between spiral wrack and bladder wrack; a timeline survey remapped the geology of the nature reserve area further on, to see has there been a change. Can there be be coastal erosion here? The rocks here are so permanent, by sight unalterable, but further on again, at the end of the east strand, at the dunes and white rocks, the story is surely different, with fissures and loose chalk, moving sand and a beating sea. But not yesterday. The tide lapped, children played, laughter trickled across the water from youngsters with surf boards, a red-throated diver obeyed the Collins Complete Guide to British Birds in that it ‘frequently dives’ and helped me identify it, in its ‘in winter’ plumage.