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

    Monday, October 25, 2004
    The way we cross over
    The best quote in Land, is this, from Edward Said:

    "Our truest reality is expressed in the way we cross over from one place to another."

    He's writing of the Palestinian situation, of checkpoints and the perversely-knotted roadways described so vividly by Segal and Weizman. Of the way Israel has dealt with occupying the land. But it's one of those phrases which have universal application.

    "Our truest reality is expressed in the way we cross over from one place to another."

    I'm thinking of some of last week's stories, not least Jan's farewell to the island whose community she served so well for six years. After a party, all decamped to Iona jetty where clutching bagsfull of gifts, Jan stepped into a local boatman's craft and headed off across the Sound towards her new home in Mull, all fondly waving her on her way.

    I'm thinking of the death tales I've heard recently - John O'Donohue's wonderful story of the woman he prepared for a good death, who received her family one by one, making her peace with each of them, being ready then to pass on well. And of Cole Moreton's rather different (but equally profound) tale of three generations of his family's men struggling to talk to each other in stumbling attempts to address all the hidden hurts between them.

    I'm thinking of the way it was when I moved here - ie, very, very, affirming on the one hand, with so many genuine well-wishers around me, and yet on the other hand how very, very, lonesome it felt - a taste of the curious liberation and loss of ministry.

    And I'm thinking of the people of this area, especially those uprooted from their homes by local authority execs who fail to see the human consequences of their plans. Of the young woman getting married next April not wanting to leave for the church from the house on Broad Lane because she's ashamed of how it looks - a decent family home hemmed in by boarded-up properties, overgrown wasteland, urban blight. How she deals with that will say so much about her.

    "Our truest reality is expressed in the way we cross over from one place to another."

    I shall take this phrase into the next stage of my studies on the theology of place and land. And I shall take it out into the night tomorrow on another of my walks which, under this dark winter sky, will perhaps be vey different than the bright and breezy walks of summer.