I’VE GROWN USED, here in Bramhall, to the nearby sound of trains rattling through the night. The sound of life trundling on is comforting and homely somehow. (Yes! – that would be it – 6 years old: Christmas morning: train track around the sofa …) And I’ve come to be able to recognise – by the sound of it, and the degree to which the house shakes – the length of a train, and whether it’s laden or empty. Empty goods trains rattle and grumble. Long after they’ve passed there’s a whispered memory. In my sleep I can still hear them muttering when they’re pulling into the yard up in Manchester. Whereas a fully laden goods train is very much quieter in the night. Much more purposeful. A quick swoooosh. Less invasive. On the way somewhere. A train to be waved to, with a smile. A train that someone might welcome or respond to. Purposeful trains don’t grumble on the line. They don’t rattle.

I like people who are carrying something, with a sense of purpose and a good intent. Last evening I had supper here with 30+ pastoral visitors. An exceptionally nice and gifted bunch of people, not a rattle or a grumble or a whisper amongst them. Synods and Conventions and empty words and journeys don’t feature much in their itineraries. Care of the housebound, care of their families, care in their community is very much more their thing. Here’s a goods train that’s carrying something, with a sense of purpose. Going somewhere. These are the Kingdom people. These are the people who spend less time dissecting the Word and more time living in Him. These are the people who pick ears of corn, on the Sabbath, with which to feed the hungry. Here’s … Immortal love, forever full, forever flowing free. Forever shared, forever whole, a never ebbing sea. For … Our outward lips confess the name all other names above: love only knoweth whence it came and comprehendeth love. (John Greenleaf Whittier). But it was a very substantial supper: so I’m off to the gym.

PS: Please see Fr Tony Clavier’s thoughtful article after Archbishop Rowan’s published Reflection this week …