Sabbatical Diary – July 30

What are you doing here …

At dinner the first night in Chichester, I wandered from table group to table group welcoming folk. One of the things I said to everyone is that journeys like this change you. I could not tell them when, or where, or how, but I remain convinced of this, through my own experience and years in conversations with other sojourners.

I was hustling a bit to get to evensong today. I was not participating, but going to sit in the nave to hear how our choirs sounded. I should mention that the choir sang a non-liturgical midday concert at the cathedral today. It will be important in what follows.

Back to the hustle to evensong. As I approached the west end of the cathedral, a gentleman riding a bicycle down from the street, and looking a bit like he might not be in complete control, headed toward me. He pulled up and said, “You’re part of the choir that sang the concert today, aren’t you?” (I had on a red St. Paul’s polo like the choir was wearing, so it made sense.) I told him I was with the choir, but not in the choir.

He began to tell me that it had not been a good morning. He had come to the cathedral for the concert directly from the crematorium, where there had been a service for his best friend. He went on to say he was devastated. Then he looked at me, quite directly, and said, but your choir healed me. They were exactly what I needed. They healed me. I don’t know the name of the song, it had a train in it. It talked about my brother. He (his friend), he said, would have liked it.” Again, he said, “It healed me.”

The choir did not know he would be at the concert. He did not know our choir would be singing there. Change happens; so does grace.

What are you doing here …

********  The Sabbatical Diary is published with gratitude and appreciation to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Detroit, Michigan for granting me sabbatical time and funding, and to the Graduate Theological Foundation, Oxford Foundation Fellowship, which made access to Oxford University for reading and research possible.