Monday, 13 March 2017

A day for protest and for prayer

After a slow morning start, I went to join a group of local people outside the Pontcanna Street local post office to demonstrate in protest at the impending closure of the Sub-Post Office, when the present license holder retires and the property is bought by the Co-operative. There were about twenty of us there and several people made placards and held them up for the Media Wales camera toting reporter who turned up to take pictures and interview local Councillor and spokesperson Iona Gordon, who'd organised the protest and is pressing for the Co-op to reconsider its plans. Planning permission has been granted for the premises to be extended, but retention of the sub-Post Office doesn't seem to have been mentioned by the developers, or considered by the Planning Committee, if I'm not mistaken. It is still possible for this to be amended before the place closes for refurbishment, so long as enough fuss is made by locals who rely upon this vital amenity.

It was only a brief affair, so the Clare and I returned for lunch. In the afternoon I walked to the Natural Health Clinic in Cathedral Road for an osteopathy appointment with Kay. Since my last longish walk last week, my knee has been giving me more trouble, so I was looking forward to this session. Kay did a thorough diagnostic on the knee joint and declared that the knee ligaments and meniscus cartilage were all in good condition, but given the persistence of mild pain in the knee joint and fibia, I should ask my GP for a referral to have the knee x-rayed, in case a cist was hiding in the back of the knee. She worked on the afflicted components. To my relief, walking home was less uncomfortable than walking there.

In response to an email round robin from Bishop David on Saturday evening, I decided to join a prayer vigil in the Cathedral, being held on the eve of the meeting of the Bench of Bishops, now charged with the task of consulting the church and making a decision about who should be the next Bishop of Llandaff, and in a situation where the electoral college seems to have only fallen short of a required two thirds majority by ten percent. I'm not going to add to the speculation or debate surrounding this issue. It's a difficult situation and I'm among the many who have written to the Bishops about this, though not to endorse any candidate as I have no right to do that as a retired priest, but simply commenting on the nature of the decision and reflecting on it from a perspective of change in the 20th century church. All in 300 words! 

All I feel I can do is pray that God's will is done through whatever the outcome and consequences of the decision reached, and that all will accept and welcome the person appointed with open hearts and minds, despite personal feelings about them, or the issues surrounding the decision making. There are many issues in the spotlight here, over the question how the church chooses its leaders, what sort of people they are and what we expect of them. 

Depending on the different expectations of church members of different 'integrities' there can be different ideas of the ideal person, both in the wider community of the faithful, and its episcopal leadership. If we had free and open debate about candidates before the Electoral College met it might be helpful, or might not. Whether decision making is in the open or in secret, coming to a consensus calls for reconciliation of differences. Sometimes this comes easily, other times, only after a painful struggle, and we've seen a good few of those in the church during my lifetime in ministry. Praying for reconciliation is the least I can do and try to do often but tonight, with the Cathedral open for silent prayer from eight to midnight. 

Martin dropped by and picked me up to save me walking, and give us a chance to chat beforehand. I was minded to stay an hour, but he couldn't stay as long as I could, so I walked home afterwards, and found walking was still much easier than expected. Sitting in silence in the darkened nave before a fifteenth century crucifix in a spotlight behind a stand of votive lights was all that was needed, but there were brief prayers offered aloud on the half hour appropriately chosen and beautifully read. I was there for an hour and a quarter. It was a memorable time, and I came away feeling refreshed, and connected to the church the diocese in a more intimate and immediate way than I sometimes feel at grand liturgies. Each is as centred on Christ as it can be, but in silence and darkness, there's nothing to get in the way.

Oh yes, just for the record, on my walks today I collected ten pieces of rubbish.

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