To think that a year ago I painted this for this point in the Christian calendar and that it played a small off-centre illustrative part in the Candlemas sermon last year:
So much changes in a year. This probably was me being no more than playful, but did indicate the interrelationship between the religions with ourselves as people and in presenting ourselves for service to others, plus there is a pattern here of family and religious official involved here as anywhere.
Today, as I said to a fellow churchgoer, reading this blog is very dangerous for your spiritual health. This isn't here to uphold anything. I'm in a different place now. I was today, too.
The seventy or so 'in the room' sit in such places that, arriving near the start as I do, the positions I once used to sit at, somewhat middling up and down and near the aisle, seem to be no available, and I either project to the near front on the right or find a spot towards the back on the left. Today I wanted to be at the back, because I don't like standing up to say the creed only to sit down immediately afterwards. I want to stay sat, but I don't want to do a public protest: I'm not there to suggest others agree with me, in the slightest. Though the language of the creed is no more dogmatic than the rest of it, I don't believe it, don't commit to it and so I don't want to say it. I want a more liberal relationship with this (and other) material than is on offer.
Well I was at the back for this Candlemas service, with bits added on, some of which worked and some of which didn't, but not only did I stay sat at the creed but also through the Eucharistic Prayer where people stand until the Lord's Prayer. It was actually turned out to be more 'spiritual' to just sit and listen to that rather than participate in a fractious way, and as I don't now go to the communion rail that seemed to be more consistent.
The sermon, given by a talented and intelligent lay reader, who I sat with afterwards with coffee, was neither here nor there in terms of my reception of it, but it seemed to me the whole thing is based on a sort of early days Jesus superstition and personally I find the whole Mary thing laid on too thick (I always did: I'm a good Prot). The sermon was good for describing the two-pronged basis of the Presentation and Mary regarding this Candlemas echo of Christmas past, but it's when one tries to make anything of it that it starts to lose something and become unanchored.
It seems that I am settling at this position now. It could have been temporary, and I'll admit a certain pull of the ceremony while I just listened. So I could still change my mind. But I ought to be clear to myself that the branch I sat on did snap and there doesn't seem to be a way to mend it. There may be other branches in the tree, of course, but I was sat on one of the lowest and, being a tall chap, all I had to do was stand there anyway - or sit on the ground, like Buddha did.