LOVINGLY, WITH INTENTION

WHAT A COMFORT Richard Holloway is. There are those in this world who strive to be sure of themselves and each and every thing they believe. And those for whom being slightly less sure of themselves and their beliefs is not only a natural state of affairs but also a preferred way. These latter types warm to what Bishop Holloway has called a “doctrine of provisionality”. I count myself amongst these and I’m profoundly grateful for the continuing episcopal ministry (even if he wouldn’t quite want to call it that) of this deeply good and humane man.

Martin Wroe writes of Bishop Holloway in the Church Times piece I alluded to yesterday

He does not pray or say the office, but he walks the hills every day, and “I intercede for people. I remember them in my mind lovingly, with intention, and offer them the gift of my loving support.”

Who does that remind me of?

I’ve loaned out my copy of The Stranger in The Wings so many times across the years that it’s battered and dog-eared today, and all the more loved for that. In that book Richard Holloway quotes from Louis MacNeice’s Mutations

“For every static world that you or I impose upon the real one must crack at times, and new patterns from new disorders open like a rose, and old assumptions yield to new sensation; the stranger in the wings is waiting for his cue / the fuse is always laid to some annunciation.”

Martin Wroe, later in his Church Times piece: “A woman came up to him at his book-launch in Edinburgh to say that she longed to be part of some kind of community of faith, but could not be part of the Church today. Would he start something? No, he had laughed: he is no guru.”

Who does that remind me of?

But he’s already “started something” – years ago, back in the seminary at Kelham and in all the years that followed. Richard Holloway began and has never stopped searching for something – discipling – and if some who loved and have been loved by him wound up disappointed it’s also true that many others wound up deeply grateful for the vulnerability and good-hearted graciousness he’s long been willing to share.

The fuse is always laid to some annunciation. That’s kept me plodding along in discipleship for years. And now, ever grateful for his “doctrine of provisionality” there’s another lovely image that will haunt and delight me for years to come: he walks the hills every day, and “I intercede for people. I remember them in my mind lovingly, with intention, and offer them the gift of my loving support.”

What a perfectly wonderful, hopeful, faithing “stranger in the wings”. What a comfort.

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Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt | Richard Holloway, 2012