Monday, 27 June 2011

Welsh reflections

When we arrived at Pen y Banc, I had mental energy for little else than sleeping, watching TV and thinking. I'm not a natural meditator, though clearly MND does force you to sit and stare, as the poet half-recommends.

So here are some reflections from last week.

Early (for me, i.e. 9.30 am) on Sunday we went to St Dingat's Church in Llandovery. Dingat I learn was one of the 36 offspring of Brychan, Irish chieftain and saint, of the sixth century. Well, there were a good deal more than 36 in the congregation. Just as we pulled up outside, a couple of minibuses from, I think, Coleg Elidyr, the local Camphill Residential Special Needs School, were disembarking their passengers. The service wasn't particularly inspiring, the music wasn't especially good, the liturgy was the same as ever, the sermon was comprehensible and straightforward (memorably telling us that academic scepticism about the Trinity was "a load of rubbish"). And yet it was probably the time when I have been most aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in a church service. I was reflecting on why this should be so, and my conclusion was, "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it unto me." The welcoming acceptance of those we tend to exclude from polite society was the reason for Jesus' presence. 

I recall listening the Dream Center's Youth Pastor speaking at Kingdom Faith in the mid '90s about the vision that led the Barnetts to that remarkable church in downtown Los Angeles. On the website it says, "The vision was birthed out of the fact that in 1994, Pastors Matthew and Tommy Barnett came to Los Angeles with the intention of building a church. They found that they first had to address the physical needs of this impoverished community." My memory is the vision was expressed in dialogue form: "Jesus, we want to build a church where you are present." The Lord, "Bring in the poor, the marginalised and the outcasts - I love their company and I'll be there." 

I've mentioned before the joys of the Beamer Tramper - the cross-country disabled buggy. We first came across it at Pembrey Country Park near Llanelli, and we went back there on Thursday. Blue-badge holders can book it free of charge. It allowed us to go for a really good walk together, which is a real treat. 

We made it up to the view point looking over to the Gower Peninsular, passing en route the hugest specimens of the blue wild flower, Viper's Bugloss, I've ever seen. From the wonders of nature to the perversity of humans. Once we were up there there was a puzzling spectacle below us. Men in orange visijackets and black and green bundles were spread out below us on the grass and dunes. As we came down we discovered more. It was the debris of a student event, we were told. 70 people had been working since Monday clearing up. They still had some way to go by the look of it. The ground had apparently been covered. 

When we reached the information centre, however, we were told it had been a good occasion. I gather it's not dissimilar to Glastonbury after the festival. Both fun and creative events, both leaving a lot of rubbish. I suppose there are some similarities in the natural world, such as vultures and dung beetles. We live in an interdependent world. But surely we can do a bit better than just abandoning our detritus indiscriminately behind us? We're not merely animals.

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