|Dusk in the church of angel singing|
Another time I thought I'd set off in good time. Got off the train at Shepherd's Bush, about an hour on the underground from Alexandra Palace. Turned left as instructed...... and tried again to find the place, thinking I'd do better this time as it really only was 5 minutes from the station. But this time it was WORSE, and I wandered round in the gloomy dusk getting into a worse and worse state, stopping strangers, going into shops and asking lots of people where I might find it, but all replied 'I don't live round here'; 'I'm not from round here'; and various other forms of 'I don't know, I've never heard of the place, didn't know it even existed'. And I was feeling the minutes slip away, knowing there were people there singing as badly as I do and yet all of us can sound like angels in that place. I peeped in another church with some fervent evangelicals in a huddle, but it wasn't what I was trying to find, though heaven knows I'm sure those people would have received me kindly had they known what I was doing. I texted my frustration madly and the folks at home must have thought I was in meltdown, and I probably WAS, and I cried real tears (but don't be too alarmed as they come easily). Sirens were screeching about the place as they do in a busy urban setting, shops were busy even though it was 7 pm on a Sunday, and everyone was going somewhere, but not where I was trying to go, and it was like a nightmare. I had to go home to the family never having found my goal, and the lack of what I had failed to find a deep disappointment.
I knew that it was not just me lamenting the loss of time and the Oyster card bill. It was sadness at the knowledge that there was something wonderful happening somewhere in the midst of a normal Sunday in Shepherd's Bush, and no-one knew about it. There were hundreds of people all charging around, probably many in search of entertainment and fast food; what WERE they all doing? And not one of them even knew that this church was there. I was weeping for the culture that made this so. For the church and how it struggles to survive, because as some would have it, we are 'not giving people what they want'. But someone designed, and many built that noble church building and made that sound possible, and a faithful bunch of people turn up every week and light the lamps of their faith together, and it probably isn't 'what people want', but if they tried it they might find it would become that, and stop them wanting some other things. The church is:
A third time, I did the proper map-reading homework and got there 15 minutes early. After the service I met the goodly folk and made new friends over sherry after the service. It was a comforting evening in every way, perhaps more so since even brilliant accoustics cannot make 'One more step along the world I go' sung by adults sound good to me. Can the church survive this dark age? I hope so.