Saturday, July 19, 2008

Canterbury's stone

Many words have been expended about the Lambeth conference underway at Canterbury Cathedral. But the words, so far, have not told me much. The photos are more interesting; I am struck by how the bishops look differently from each other. There is no sameness about them. They don’t all wear the same shade of purple. They look to be in a state of becoming. And they are in a place that is in a constant state of becoming.

Five years ago, Lori and I had the privilege of living for a week at Canterbury Cathedral. Many of the settings in the photos coming from the Lambeth Conference at Canterbury are very familiar. 

One morning while we were living at Canterbury I awoke early and went for a walk around the "precincts" of the great cathedral, and I came upon a stone worker who was taking a break. His name was Peter (pictured above), and I asked him what he was doing.

 "Building the Cathedral," he replied.

 His answer surprised me, so I said: "I thought it was finished."

 "Oh no, the Cathedral is never finished."

Peter explained that, like his father, and his father's father, he would go "round and round" chipping off broken stone and repairing it. The old church is always being made new.The work is never done. Canterbury, this holy of holy places, is always in a state of becoming. What better place for our bishops to be this week? What better place for all of us to be?

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