I type this around the strange, but valuable, ‘triduum’ of Halloween, All Saints and All Souls. Why is it important, and why might it relate to Christmas? Because it offers a chance to look beyond our more mundane ‘getting & doing’ to some of the deeper and more holistic things of life. If we need good Physics to make our computers whirr, we need good Metaphysics to feed our souls.
I am possibly too much of a fan of the hymn Jerusalem precisely because it puts us in touch with things metaphysical. A friend, who will I hope forgive me, referred to the 1st verse as postulating four questions to which the answer, to all four, is ‘no’. I would like to suggest the opposite.
- And did those feet in ancient times walk upon England’s mountains green? Yes, if you like the idea of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day (and hopefully, metaphorically, in all our gardens too).
- Was the holy Lamb of God on England’s pleasant pastures seen? Yes, if you look at the way that sacrifice and fruits, which Christ blesses, feature in our calendar; from harvest through to the wassailing and back. And how many clubs, regiments or pubs feature ‘the lamb’ amongst their symbols?
- Did the countenance divine shine forth upon our clouded hills? There’s a wonderful picture, by Constable I think, of Salisbury Cathedral in cloud but with a shaft of sunlight breaking through. I like to think that the poet and engraver William Blake, who wrote the words to Jerusalem, was inspired by the same enlarged and mysterious view of the world which fired Constable. We need to rediscover that view of the world today with some urgency.
Blake walked to work each day from his home in Southwark to his engraving workshop, passing along the way the ‘dark satanic mills’ of the paper-making factories on the south side of the Thames (the industrial revolution was gathering speed).
There will be plenty of wars and rumours of wars, plenty of dark clouds for us to worry about this Christmastide and New Year. If we trust in the ‘goodness deep down things’ and, especially at this time of year, in ‘this little babe, so few days old…come to rifle Satan’s fold’ then we risk, and it’s a good risk, being inspired by things seen as well as unseen.
So come and see us, and have a wonderful Festival, each and every one of you. With love and prayers,
<< Go Back