The Calm Before
Making Sacred Space Common Ground
– a year of transformation –
The Very Reverend Geoff Miller, Dean of Newcastle
Wednesday, 1 January 2020
The Calm Before!
Perhaps best to start at the beginning. So, it is New Year’s morning and I open the Cathedral for Morning Prayer and Holy Communion. It is dark and cold; there is the only the sound of white-frost being chipped off car window screens but a golden dawn is just emerging and casting its zig-zag rays in sharp angles across the nave from north to south.
The Cathedral is silent, well almost! Save only for the creaking heating system, wearily unaware that it is in the last throws of its life’s work. Not surprisingly, I am still amazed by the beauty of the Tower’s ceiling daring the visitor to look up and behold the dove hovering with its blessing. I unlock the Great West doors and stand before the ancient Font, still all dressed up for Advent, though waiting time is over, and now almost the festivities too. It is solid, a symbol of beginnings, and a good place to pause for a moment: I inhale the hushed, albeit radiator-creaking, calm and say a prayer for the year ahead.
‘For courage to face the future. That amid the certain chaos there may still be longing and welcome, growth and creativity, smiles and sunlight to break the dark, warmth to banish the cold and a good dose of grace to strengthen all who enter.’
Then, as always in this place it seems, the surprise: I am no longer alone. To be honest it is an unexpected congregation on this dark holiday morn but some are still hungry for Bread and Wine, for food to bless the journey that lies ahead. Among the little gathering a gentle family – mum dad and young son – freshly arrived from afar, and here to build a new life among us. They light a candle and pray. Everything is strange for them, new and potent with possibilities amid the apprehension and strangeness.
Thank God the doors were open.
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