The Archbishop of Canterbury was holding his annual advent service for parliamentarians. One anthem struck me:
Adam lay ybounden
Bounden in a bond
Four thousand winters
Thought he not too long
(15th century words, Anon.)
As the Archbishop said: maybe more like 40 million years than four thousand but the point is made Adam was eventually released.
I was in Durham in the morning after a speech at the university the night before. Standing on the hills to the south of the City on a winter’s late dawn, the whole cathedral shone in an amber light. Is there any such city where in moments you can climb out of the city into open country?
We went to Mass in the newly restored St Peter’s Church at Stonyhurst, Lancashire. This is a splendid renovation. All the fabulous ornate over-the-top ornamentation glistening as if it was brand new, a triumph of nineteenth-century art. Pity the heating was turned off.
We went to the Sound of Music, a school musical. Precisely because we all know every scene because we have seen the film half a dozen times, it has a comforting quality of familiarity, like a liturgy. But the Sound of Music and the real story of the von Trapp family are as compelling a morality play as any.
Again, only time to attend a fragment of Mass but what divine poetry from Isaiah:
“For tyrants shall be no more, and scoffers vanish.”
I could only attend a fragment of Mass but is not a fragment better than nothing?
That night I dreamt that I was completely alone in a featureless open space on a bare board with writing, having nothing, going nowhere.
It was strangely comforting as must be the moments before death.