A hush in the market place always preceded the count down. Children in school uniform, restaurateurs and caf owners in striped aprons, landlords with fancy waistcoats, businessmen suited with rolled up trousers bottoms and anyone else who wanted to, and could, braved the late winter weather and lined up at the bottom of the hill, frying pan in hand, ready to go. Then, at the start of the gun, the roar of the crowd chilled through the spine and the adrenaline was fired up. The pancake race had begun. There were pancakes in the air, on the floor, on peoples heads and there were people in the air and and on the floor. In ten minutes it was all over. Everyone in the market town turned up. It was spectacular and it was fun.
Our world is a busy place. Our lives are busy too. However we explain it away we live at a pace unknown to previous generations. We cannot change the culture in which we live, but we can adapt to it and, if we want to, find within our busy-ness the space most of us need in which to enter, from time to time, just to reflect and think and be at peace with ourselves.
For Christian people Lent, which begins the day after Pancake Day, is a time for seeking out that space. It is difficult to find it; it maybe on the bus or train to work, walking down the street, soaking in the bath, lying in bed looking at the ceiling. There are public buildings and places of quiet, and a church is as good a place as any. Any church is your church. Religious belief or personal commitment is not an issue here. I believe that churches treasure the spirit of the community they seek to serve and represent the yearning for meaning that lies at the heart of our desire for space and peace, and justifies it.
The peace and quiet of moments of solitude need only be moments. Preparation for the race is essential, the pancake race or the race of our life. Time to rest and recover before the next race is also essential, be it for the pancake race or, I believe, the race of our life. We need to work out who we are, what we are doing and why we are doing it. And even if we can say the answer is only to have fun, then we give the race a value and maybe at the finishing line, we might just receive a prize which is beyond our belief.
|Copyright © St. Mary's PCC, 2008
(contributors reserve their individual copyrights)