At the end of my childhood garden stood an apple tree with a branch so low that it was possible for even a very small child to clamber up and sit in it. From there, no man-made thing could be seen. The view was all trees and hedges.
When my small soul felt fragmented into shards, I’d sit there until all the pieces went back together. I’ve been looking for the equivalent of that tree ever since, and never found it, but tonight, I may have done.
At our 12th century church, we broke our usual rule and celebrated the Book of Common Prayer evensong at 5pm. Everyone, somehow, knew the words, and we were carried through on a wave of knowledge and experience.
There are few of us now, but we are connected to all the people who lived and died there down the centuries, as well as those we love and pray for outside the building. So, we are not alone.
Afterwards, there was wine and delicious home-made canapés. We stood around, listening to jazz, catching up on each other’s news, sharing our lives, interested in and caring for one another.
A clear night followed a peerless day, and the stars were out over the city as I walked home.
Home hasn’t been a place that I’ve wanted to be for many months. Things are difficult. I am, mostly, unhappy and torn. But tonight, an ancient service in an even more ancient church, with a group of neighbours and friends, did what only the apple tree ever did: it put me back together again, and for that, I am profoundly thankful.