October 2018 - Rector's Ramblings

Many of you will have noticed with your eyes that the Church clock has been at a stop recently.
And many of you will have noticed with your ears that accordingly the bells have not been
chiming out the daytime hour. A number of you have expressed how sadly you have missed
these comforting reassurances; and I am very hopeful that the clock (which needs expert
attention) can be mended. It is an old and complicated mechanism.

In passing, the frozen state of the clock face (at a few minutes after two) did allow me to offer
the ‘witticism’, to a 2.00pm wedding service, that this time-keeping was a deliberate plan to get
the skates on a tardy bride when she arrives at the lych gate and - looking up - has a moment’s
horror that the ceremony may be underway without her!

My own sense of dis-ease grew rather worse a few weeks ago, when I awoke one morning, in
this chime-free season, to find that a) my wrist watch had come to a stop overnight; and that b)
my bedside alarm clock had in the same 24 hours also reached the end of its battery life. I
glanced around me, nonplussed, imagining some sort of temporal radiation or end of the world
scenario that had brought all time to a halt; but decided it was simply one of those ‘and then
(believe it or not) three come at once’ moments.

What I reflected in all this, was how strange it feels (for me at least), how weird, to be without a
sense of the time of day. I lose the ability to function. I need to know the time. Yet just
occasionally I come across the unusual person who really does not seem to worry at all about the
time of day. Whilst far from my own experience, it is really rather refreshing.

Of course, many of us live our complex lives by diaries and appointments and we have to be
somewhere in particular at a set time: to lead a service; collect the kids from school; catch a bus;
or make that important doctor’s consultation. But, in those brief moments when we don’t, it can
be an enormous release to be free from the insistent demands of the clock.
‘Free’ for ourselves. One summer’s holiday, alone on the Isle of Mull, in an old crofter’s
building near the village of Bunessan (after which the tune of Morning has Broken was named),
wife Karen and I decided we’d just spend the whole day in bed! Which we did - well, to about
4.00pm. Now apart from all the wry comments that story will provoke, it was remarkable to push
aside the tyranny of the clock.

Through a great picture window, we watched seals swimming in
the bay down below, as we drank afternoon tea from the sanctuary of our duvet.
More often, it is of worth that we forget the clock’s ticking in order that we allow more time for
others. You know how disconcerting it is to be talking to someone, who in turn is fidgeting and
glancing down towards their watch. Their lacklustre attention is not worth having. In contrast,
how healing, affirming and valuing it can be when a person habitually gives us time, puts down
other preoccupations and concerns, and really listens; really attends; really allows time to stand
still that they might be present to us and our concerns.

Some cultures are famously unreliable as to time-keeping, and this can be unsettling and
difficult for the normal conduct of business. We talk affectionately, though a little wryly, of

‘African time’; the same was said to us of ‘Sri Lankan time’ on our recent visit to that
fascinating island. What such cultures can do, however, in their unhurriedness, is to receive us
very generously. (Of course, what they cannot sometimes do, is to actually be there when we
need them!).

None of us really wants to dispense with time-keeping: life, in the UK, is not like that! But
there are certainly times when a little less clock-watching, and a little more generosity with
those who call upon us (or with our own needs for rest and recuperation), … would be a good,
good thing.

There’s some truer living when the clock stops.

‘It must be awfully important, … like a party or something’, said Alice. [Oh yeah!?]
Kind wishes,

Andrew Doye

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