Dedication Sunday

A church is more than its bricks and mortar, and more than its physical trappings. I know that. But when I got back last weekend I dragged myself out to Evensong, and turning off the motorway I saw the fatter of the two spires on the north side of Great Western Road and something inside me relaxed. Home.

I read this a few years ago, and I thought then that there would be a day when I would want to use it. In the midst of the spiritual and the mystical, let’s not forget the ones whose hands shaped and stacked our living stones.

*

They climbed on sketchy ladders towards God,
with winch and pulley hoisted hewn rock into heaven,
inhabited the sky with hammers,
defied gravity,
defied stone,
took up God’s house to meet him,
and came down to their suppers
and small beer,
every night slept, lay with their smelly wives,
quarrelled and cuffed the children,
lied, spat, sang, were happy, or unhappy,
and every day took to the ladders again,
impeded the rights of way of another summer’s swallows,
grew greyer, shakier,
became less inclined to fix a neighbour’s roof of a fine evening,
saw naves sprout arches, clerestories soar,
cursed the loud fancy glaziers for their luck,
somehow escaped the plague,
got rheumatism,
decided it was time to give it up,
to leave the spire to others,
stood in the crowd, well back from the vestments at the consecration,
envied the fat bishop his warm boots,
cocked a squint eye aloft,
and said, “I bloody did that.”

From Cathedral Builders, by John Ormond

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