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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, September 26, 2003
    Magic loves the hungry
    "Magic loves the hungry" sang Buffy Sainte-Marie. It's quoted in England's Hidden Reverse to illuminate the dark passions driving English industrial underground musicians in the early eighties. But it equally well suits the state of mind I found myself in on the floor of Liverpool Cathedral last night, partway through an hour on The Labyrinth.

    The Labyrinth's been here a fortnight and proved popular. We took twenty-plus boys along last night and they got a lot out of it. For me, it was a stranger experience. Took me back - back first to the weeks I spent researching labyrinths whilst in training for ministry, taking trips out to see the ancient labyrinths at Ely Cathedral and Saffron Walden, learning how to design and build a labyrinth and planning just that with the college groundsman, only to have the idea rejected by college powers-that-be. I was hungry for it. It would have been magic, but the magic was snuffed out then.

    The Labyrinth last night also took me further back. Back to when I was an arranger of alternative worship events in that very space - Liverpool Cathedral Well. All-nighters for 600 people. Used to be an innovator; last night at stage eight of the Labyrinth, looking into a mirror, I wondered how I've now been reduced to a mere bearer of banality, perpetrator of dull piety, sanitised sanctity, far away from the magic, having had the hunger battered out of me in the process of what's called 'ministerial formation'.

    "You created my inmost being ... I am fearfully and wonderfully made"; "What is the 'you' of you?" went the cd commentary. I couldn't concentrate because I had one eye on our boys chasing around the cathedral arches pursued by a security man. But I want to return to those thoughts because I remember how good it once was to feel the magic. And I want to discover if deep within me the hunger is still there, innate, latent, capacitous.