ALL THIS HE SAW, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.

‘Rat!’ he found breath to whisper, shaking. ‘Are you afraid?’

‘Afraid?’ murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. ‘Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet— and yet— O, Mole, I am afraid!’

Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.

Sudden and magnificent, the sun’s broad golden disc showed itself over the horizon facing them; and the first rays, shooting across the level water-meadows, took the animals full in the eyes and dazzled them. When they were able to look once more, the Vision had vanished, and the air was full of the carol of birds that hailed the dawn.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows

All Saints / Souls-tide 2012


I’D NOT SEEN this year’s Britain’s Got Talent until my friend Hilary drew my attention to Charlotte and Jonathan, after a Eucharistic celebration in which Rachael Elizabeth – herself extra-ordinarily connected with her hearers – encouraged us to pay attention to the Dominical command to “love one another”.

I don’t mind telling you that I’ve just howled my eyes out! The connection that Rachael spoke of this morning is so completely and patently present in these two young singers. The odds of pre-judging criticism weighed heavily against them – and for all their youth, they knew it, too. But there’s a mind-blowing, awe-inspiring Grace in the connection between these two, and each brings out the phenomenal charism of the other. Millions have been following the series and will have seen this film before. I’d bet my bottom dollar that no-one will mind watching this one again.

I saw connection and majesty in the Black Dyke Band on Thursday. Now I’ve watched, over and over again, the connection between these two, the power of the encouraging glance, loyalty, mutual admiration, giving and giving some more until it hurts – and then some more still, so that the hurt gives way to joy and glory. This piece of film brings me – literally – to my knees with admiration and awe, and it stretches my heart and lungs to near bursting point. Each “sees” the other – and whenever and with whomsoever that happens we see a glimpse of Heaven. And, as Rachael suggested, in the ultimate fullness of life it’ll be confirmed, irrevocably, that “we’re family”. Let this be our prayer.

The fabulous Ashleigh and Pudsey won this particular competition and I loved their act – and the “connection” between them, too. The singing duo were “runners up”. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget young Charlotte and Jonathan. I’m profoundly struck by the thought that as the Holy Spirit animates God’s Creation by her self-giving, as the loving spirit and anointing grace of Mary Magdalene animated Jesus the Anointed, so Charlotte animates and draws out the song-in-the-soul of Jonathan – though she could easily and blessedly have revelled only in her own. I salute this strong and tender young woman. I am touched to the core by the beauty that each magnifies in the other. There’s deep, deep majesty in them; a paradoxical enormity and littleness about their self-giving humility, a greatness about their gifts – of music and of character.

Deep, deep, deep grace. How does one say a fitting “thank you” for that?


SOMETIMES OUR SINGING needs to be silent, simply a standing in awe. I love to use a camera, but I’ve never forgotten the delightful nun I companied with on a silent retreat, many years ago, who told me afterwards – “I take photographs with the lens of my heart”.

Anyway, standing in awe before tonight’s sunset I thought that whoever and whatever God is, God is indescribably generous, the Supreme Artist. The lens of God’s Heart lies beyond description – albeit that we see shining facets of that love in Jesus, who told humankind – through his own loved ones – that we may see more and more of that love in and through one another.

How Shall I Sing That Majesty? – probably primarily by being fully and consciously alive …