Friday, 6 August 2010

What is The Point of Wasps?

This is a question that has fascinated me for years, but is not what I want to talk about today!

I want to talk about stone [not the hamlet on the Oxford-side of Aylesbury; not about the town I once passed on the train to Manchester; not about a powder-induced state of near floaty-lightedness].

I spent a wonderful time as Day Chaplain in Orxford's diminutive but otherwise wonderful cathedral church. My job there was to dither about among the hoards of tourists, pose for umpteen pictures until my cheeks got cramp, lead short prayers on the hour and on that day, to preside at Holy Communion, Cranmer Style! It was a good day, and one that reminded me of a strange phenomenomenomenon. 

Stones, the ones that the builders used to build such edifices as Orxford Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral and, say Ripon College Cuddesdon (where I trained to be a vicah) - they have selective memories. Yes, dear reader, stones can be contrary (and almost certainly perverse). 

When I have visited great ancient churches (big and small, and the not-so-ancient, come to think about it), I have felt the power of prayer ooze from the stones they comprise. No church is silent, trust me. Even when there is no noise and you are the only person there, churches are not silent. Jubilant choruses, heartfelt hymns, intoned psalms, Great Amens, bustle and chat, applause maybe; and also minor-chord laments, the anguished cries of grieving relatives, the pathos inducing recitations of Psalm 22 as the heart is ripped from the church late on past Maundy Thursdays - every note resonates from the stones. If you think I am mad, work out a way to be alone in a church sometime, and make the journey. The noise is deafening at so many levels.

But then you get other stones that seem to have no memory at all - Teflon coated blocks of absolute silence. My Theological College is like that. Whilst it is a wonderful place and a warm and vibrant place, nothing sticks to it. Maybe because in many ways such colleges are sausage factories, airport lounges. Ordinands enter, pre-Deacons leave - in mere months it seems. It is odd having lived, worshipped and raised a family there, to visit to find it looking like it did before but n'er a note of past parties and lectures hangs in the air. Silence is silent (even in the chapel, oddly). This isn't a criticism, more an observation.

I have no doubt that this behaviour applies to house-bricks too - but in which way I have yet to establish. My manse has seen many things, I am sure - but I am not sure what, if anything, has adhered.


  1. what a lovely post... our parish church has this affect on me.
    but in reponse to the first question about the dreaded wasps.... I have been researching wasps as we heve been inundated with the little sods and my 2 youngest have both been stung this week (one on the face). So I have spent some time with my friend 'google'... Apparently they are good for the garden - they eat bugs and the like. On top of that, as I discovered when my cat decided he rather fancied a mouse for dinner, that they eat carrion - at alarming rates. Quite gross to wtiness, actually but obviously that is one of their fundamental purposes... hope thats of vague interest! :)

  2. I agree with the above remark about the quality
    of this post and would add that whilst it is
    certainly true that stones do hold sound - and in some cases images - hence ghosts, I believe
    the original function of the stones gives them
    a magnetism for those with well-developed 6th
    sense. The ability to tune-in to this should be
    cherished. My opinion of wasps is recorded elsewhere!



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