Sunday, 15 January 2012

Preliminary canter

When I was at school our Latin master would set beginners' exercises which he called a 'preliminary canter' or PC. This was to limber up, get the hang of a new declension or conjugation before venturing out into the more demanding terrain of unseen translation.

Regard this as the PC of a blogging learner. Last week it was learning how to Tweet, so a new ICT skill a week isn't a bad aspiration for a new year. I'll give this a try through Epiphany and Lent, and see how it looks and feels at Easter. I have no idea whether there will be anyone out there is cyberspace to read this, but the discipline of wool-gathering in print feels like photography, a way of noticing, paying attention, reflecting on what we experience. If you are overhearing this (I suppose I mean over-looking it, but not in tab usual sense if that word) I look forward to hearing from you from time to time.

Inhabiting a great cathedral (Durham) where I live, work and pray, it ought to be impossible not to live reflectively. The stones cry out for it. Worship in the Cathedral twice a day calls us afresh to it, reminds us that the unreflected life is not worth living. But it is too easy to take it all for granted, forget that places like this were built to make us wise (among other things). The day to day job of leadership is all-consuming: a great galleon such as this takes many skilled hands and clear heads to keep it on course. (I learned a lot about cathedrals by reading right through the Hornblower novels when I first became a dean 17 years ago - maybe more about that some day.) But it is a privilege to lead the team of people who are the guardians of the cathedral's heritage, spirituality, common life and mission, even if it sometimes keeps me awake at night (which is when I am most likely to blog, so long silences may simply mean that I am going through a welcome period of sleeping peacefully).


  1. Just watch out for the jolly boats sneaking past the cloisters in the fog...

  2. Welcome to the blogosphere and twitterverse, Decanus Borealis. You have been my (unconscious!) mentor since you were so kind and encouraging to me when I first started the Lay Anglicana website - the results of which are now on my blog at
    I will sound the trumpets to herald your arrival!

  3. I heard the trumpet call and followed. Welcome to the blog sphere!

  4. Welcome to the blog world Michael. I look forward to reading more from you. However, this blog stuff can be the most terrible thief of time, and you and I are both short of that. I don't know why- God keeps on making it. Best wishes. Ivor ( Stolliday)
    PS I am already in touch with Laura ( above)

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