feast day

Cuthbert has had a good day (and the charcoal hasn’t even been stoked yet for evensong).

The wrens were hopping branch to branch along the old pilgrimage route.
A flock of goldfinch joined in procession.

There were 85 or so at the mid-day eucharist, and it felt more like the whole church gathered than ever I have known it too at the Cathedral (was it the teenagers, maybe?). The light danced on the flame-warmed air, and the transfiguration window blazed in glory.

Afterwards, the Millennium window threw colour at the Hatfield tomb.  The play of it led all but the French teenagers to stop.  One tour group got carried away touching the stone and gold leaf saying, ‘but is it the tomb or the light?’ while another were left breathless with sighs of ‘the colour!’ ‘oh, aye.’

In the cloisters, there was a jaunty Westie, who was gathered up in his human’s arms, and carried carefully to the shrine.

And then, through town, the pilgrims carried a new banner, beautifully wrought, with silver bells swinging.

Blessed Cuthbert: a jubilee gift.

Still, I confess:  I had hoped for otters at the tomb.


I caught the cathedral purring today.  Bright sun filtering through the clerestory onto the ceiling vault.  Vergers on benches or leaning against pillars, at ease among the tiny handful of visitors.  I love it like this; a gift of unmerited grace.

Then, the voicing of the organ began: a long low note from the south transept.   Voicing fascinates me, though I know nothing but what one gleans from hearing it done.  The note begins fuzzy and rumbly and is allowed to fill the space.  Then — slowly, miraculously–  it is gathered in.  The fuzziness stops.  The note rings true, and the building sighs in response.

Pipe after pipe, note after note, it is the same: each drawn into its own centre, then taught to resonate with the others.

It seems like a perfect expression of both church and prayer.  One note at a time, prayer turns the volume up on our fuzziness, till the true note sounds and we are gathered in.

It’s a slow process though.  Slower for people than organs.  In the time I was there, Jophiel and the organ tuners managed three pipes.  God and I were content with just one.