It is not always that easy to work out what is important in the life of a Cathedral. The agenda is complicated and swirls through the place like a flood-tide with every post and email, every visitor and phone call, every meeting. The French would shrug and murmur 'C'est la vie' and of course they would be right - we share the world's condition and the daily struggle for clarity and focus. This morning began early (4.30) with the daily office and Psalm 71 wrapped around me as a pure gift of love. ( I love the Episcopal Contemporary Office book: it has all the readings, collects and offices in one (thick) convenient volume.)
It has been an interesting week. On Tuesday, on our Cathedral steps, I had the joy of joining in a welcome to the Dalai Lama (see the photo above by Paul Sorrell) and it was a happy ecumenical and inter-faith gathering on a very cold morning. The heart-warming joy of the moment contrasted most eloquently with the sad headline in the ODT of the previous Friday where a Christian writer had trumpeted 'Buddhism and Christianity can't both be right'. Of course the 'Faith and Reason' column is a strange creature and I am used to despairing over what it publishes; but one does wonder just where the writer of that caption was coming from and which strand of Christianity he was referring to because, by the same logic, they can't all be right. Fortunately, as I found myself saying to folk on the steps that morning, 'God is bigger than any of our constructs.'
Last weekend we had our Cathedral Vestry retreat at the deanery. We have a strong range of new folk on Vestry with some quite a bit younger and this is a new and encouraging mix. One of the questions that I asked in a free ranging discussion was where we should be focussing our attention (while not excluding the usual and obvious 'givens' of being a Cathedral). I am concerned that too much of our talk in the church is controlled by an agenda that is inward-looking - the marriage debate being a ghastly example of this. I suggested that the gap between the well off and the poor seems to be ever-widening and that this is an issue that is destructive and cruel - and certainly something we should seek to give our serious and sustained attention. (By this I mean something much more than the occasional sermon!) The problem is that I am not yet clear about what else we may do: with the rest of the country I (we) share a sense of helplessness when confronted by faceless and global forces. How can we act? How can we begin to be effective for any sort of change? To begin with I think we need discussion and a sharing of ideas until something starts to become clearer. I invite your thoughts.