I keep dreaming about pigeon poo – since Tuesday when I had to go into a closed church in the parish and meet with some people who might be keen on buying the organ there… although it was locked against human beings, the pigeons had found themselves a home, in every space between the rooftiles and the wooden ceiling… they are messy and very careless… pigeon poo, broken twigs from fallen nests, and the odd dehydrated young pigeon corpse lay sadly littered across empty pews.
I didn’t really feel that sad as it had not been a place I had known as ‘open’, only as a closed church, and only in this state. Huge, theatrical spiderswebs hung from the ceiling, and the morning sun shone gently through filthy stained-glass windows and onto stained flower-vases, creased hymn books, and boxes of unsold jumble-sale bric-a-brac.
The detritus of Anglican religion?
I work each day in a huge, cold, bright space: the Minster Church of St Nicholas. Gutted completely by fire-bombs in World War II, the rebuilt shell now stands bright and airy on the shore of the East Coast, much like a gorgeously smooth and clean seashell… with the remnants of age and mathematical planning about its structure, but mostly an uplifting simplicity, free of adornment.
Stuff… we have so much of it, and sometimes it is useful… but we just don’t share it around, so that when we think we need stuff, we have to get our own- and then when we stop using it, it goes to rack and ruin, like that church, and like that organ will if it’s not sold.
I’ve never been good with presents… people still get me the odd Christmas and birthday present: less and less thank goodness – they’ve realised I really can’t do a believable pretend ‘thank you’ – and that if my family can’t eat it, or I don’t need one and haven’t asked for it, then I probably don’t want it just because they feel it’s supposed to be gift-giving time. But I LOVE gifts when they are given at the right moment and not out of ‘duty’… what I mean is this: A lovely lady I know sent me a teatowel for no particular reason- I was immensely pleased, because it was unexpected, it reminded me of her, and it was useful. Someone else once handed me a book that they had told me I should read – that was kind and useful. An old couple once gave me a VERY old bicycle so I could cycle to rehearsals – that was really kind and useful… if a little rickety. I in my turn have given boots, babyclothes, books, glasses… things that I had and didn’t really need, and that other people had expressed a need for… I hope they were useful and welcome and, with one or two occasional exceptions, I haven’t missed them at all.
I do hope that the things that the church has, and doesn’t need, get given to those who need them, and that those things that the church needs and doesn’t have – will be given to the church to use for the people.