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

    Thursday, November 18, 2004
    From Frodsham's trees
     
    I was at Foxhill today. Last time I was there, after lunch I took a walk through the steep sloped arboretum, and at the top soaked in its phenomenal view across the Mersey Basin, eyeing Fiddler's Ferry, Liverpool's cathedrals, the Lancashire hills, the planes sweeping above the Runcorn Bridge and flying low into Speke Airport. I was drawn to the planes. On this vast canvas they were the only visible sign of human life - business class from Belfast, or EasyJet from Barcelona, inside those sleek steel shells were folk, gently arriving.

    The date was 11th September 2001. After my walk I arrived into a lounge full of ashen people gathered around a tv. The planes ... I couldn't quite believe the planes.

    The occasion was a conference entitled 'Theology Today'. It was perhaps the best place for someone like me to be on a day like that. We ripped up our two-day programme that afternoon, sat silently in the chapel, started over.

    Now, that seems a long time ago. And today seemed not as apocalyptic. If I had stood at the top of the arboretum today, no doubt, I would have seen Speke's passenger planes landing as ever - in fact, more than ever in this city's current boom phase. i would have liked that, it might have been a healing thing. But the sleet kept me indoors. In the chapel at the end of today's retreat, the silence held the same prayers as it did three years ago, pretty much. Only their intensity had changed.