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Good things at St Clement’s.

2014 May 28
by Gordon Reid

A kind parishioner just pointed out to me that it is a month since I posted anything in this blog, and so I promised amendment of life, and here I am.

One of the reasons I have written so little here is that I have been doing a lot of other writing, and that inevitably means that writing for the blog gets pushed aside. I am, in fact, writing  an Autobiography, which I have provisionally entitled “Have Biretta; Will Travel”! As many of you know, I was a great friend of Canon Colin Stephenson, who wrote one of the most amusing autobiographies I have read, namely “Merrily on High”. I would never aspire to Fr Colin’s level of brilliant commentary  on  his Anglo-Catholic pilgrimage and his great gift of  wit and humor, but I have to admit that it was when I was writing the preface to the recently reissued  paperback editions of “Merrily on High” and “Walsingham Way” that I decided to  launch out on writing my own biography. It may never see the light of day by being published, but it is proving great fun to write, so maybe some publisher will feel that there would be enough people who would find it fun to read, to justify publishing it. We shall see. It is a long way off completion: I think I have written just about 65,000 words. I have no idea how many are in a  published book, but imagine that it would be well over 100,000.

So there is one  excuse for not appearing on this blog for a month. Another is that there are a lot of splendid things going on at St Clement’s, some of which have taken up a good deal of my time. One is the planning of the removal of six stained-glass windows from the back sacristy (the sacristy of the St John’s Chapel) and their erection in the windows of the Anchor Room, the smaller of our two church halls. These windows depict six of the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy (the one omitted being the burial of the dead) and they are among the most beautiful windows we possess. But for decades they have been relegated to the sacristy, where only  the clergy and servers ever see them. Very soon, they will be seen in all their glory by not only the congregation at coffee hours after Mass, but also by the many other groups that use the Anchor Room, such as bridal parties (it’s where I hide the bride before  her wedding), and study groups, the most recent being from the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, as well as its occasional use by the Clementine Montessori School.

This same school  has this year planted a fine collection of flowers and vegetables in the bit of the garden they look after, and their tomatoes and lettuce and beans, as well as an arch of beautiful purple clematis, are flourishing. This garden is to the right as you come into the church from Appletree St. On the left is the bit of garden under the windows of my study in the Rectory, which until recently was rather blighted by   the full-grown pear tree which  drained all the nutriments from the soil and also cast total shade over much of that part of the garden. We had this tree removed by tree-pruning experts who swung, Tarzan-like, from the top branches (opposite the third floor of the Rectory) and gradually cut their way down to the ground. It was suggested that this part of the garden might be just the place for a state of Our Lady, and we have found one, similar in size and appearance to the statue of St Francis which stands at the middle of the south wall of the church. Before installing this image, the garden has been planted with a variety of flowers (which will be added to as time goes by) which are named after Our Lady, such as Lady’s Lace, and most of them will be blue or white. Some of the hosts which were already there have, fortuitously, begun to produce either blue or white blooms. I blessed this garden during last Sunday’s Rogation Procession, and dedicated it to the honor of Our Lady and in memory of Michael Arrington, one of our most faithful altar servers, who died last year. He was devoted to Our Lady and loved the garden, so this is a very suitable memorial.

Of course, neither the window-moving project nor the various gardening projects have been my own doing. They have been planned and executed by  several members of the congregation, who have given a lot of their time and talents. But as Rector, I have been involved in these and many other bits of work, and even the discussing of such things is time consuming. So they can be part of my excuse for not blogging as often as I should and as I promised. Let’s see if I can keep up the good work!

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Stephen permalink
    May 28, 2014

    You have at least this friend who will look forward to reading your memoirs Father.

  2. Roberto permalink
    June 8, 2014

    The title sounds too much like the TV program of the 50′s Have Gun, Will Travel. I’d like to suggest a possible title as: From Under My Biretta.

  3. Stacey permalink
    June 15, 2014

    Please continue to write your book! It can be done. There’s also the option of self publishing . I like the title because it sounds like “Have Gun, Will Travel” so its a good pun/play on words: Biretta/Beretta , get it? ;)

    I do still cherish the copy of “Merrily On High” you sent me, it is still sitting prominently on my shelf.

    Have a Blessed Pentecost!

  4. Jim D permalink
    July 4, 2014

    If your autobiography is half as interesting and charming as MERRILY ON HIGH, it will be well worth reading. (I found a copy through an Internet bookseller, and had it in my hands a few days after reading your recommendation!)

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