Reflection: A Spiritual Home – Adam Lynde
My Mother and I have been coming to St. James, regularly, for about 5 years. We have found here a spiritual home. To understand why that might be considered noteworthy, you have to understand that twenty years ago, my mother retired after fifty years as an organist and choir director, much of it spent with the Anglican Church. When we began coming to S.t James on a regular basis, we did so in the company of my Mother’s last boss and a dear friend, The Rev’d Canon Peter Gratton. Like my Mother, Mr. Gratton’s record with the church was a lengthy one — as my Mom was a teenaged organist in Lindsay just after the Second World War, Mr. Gratton was pursuing missionary work in Kashmir before being sent to Wycliffe College on scholarship.
Retirement from such a lengthy career in the church brings its own challenges. True, there is an unwillingness among the elderly in particular to accept change; an unwillingness to EASILY accept changes to the liturgy, or new forms of music that is uninspired or simply not well performed. There is also, from my observation, an unwillingness on the part of some younger clergy and church musicians to simply acknowledge to service of those who went before them.
It was out of this frustrating retirement experience — many years when we found that various parish churches seemed to have little to offer — that we began to come to St. James. The effect was immediate, which brings me back to my main theme this morning: St. James as spiritual home.
How this is made manifest is difficult to define. Asked recently, my Mother simply observed that it meant that when you spoke to people, they didn’t look at you cockeyed. She was being somewhat glib. But the truth is that as she has entered her nineties, she has begun to lose friends of many decades standing. But here, at St. James, she has made many new friends who, while not replacing those lost to time, she nonetheless treasures. Mr. Gratton and I still had lengthy discussions after Sunday service, but now these focused on issues raised by the homily, rather than how the service in its entirety failed to move us. For Mr. Gratton’s friends and family, his funeral service, held here at St. James according to traditional rites, with Vicar Brinton, Dean Stoute, and Archbishop Johnson in attendance was moving and fitting laying to rest of a beloved son of the church.
It is obviously difficult to adequately describe St. James as a spiritual home. It may be in a well-delivered homily that both moves and makes one think; it might be too music than spans the centuries; and than there is the warm sincerity with which one is greeted by the clergy; it may be all of these things, or it may be none of them; it may be the edifice itself, the memorials on its walls a testimonial to many earlier generations of the faithful.
If difficult to describe, it is not so difficult to explain. The sense of home that emanates from the Cathedral, in whatever form, is but the living of the presence of God among his people. Such, at least, is the only explanation I have for my Mother and Mr. Gratton, so late in life — their combined years make them older than this building — and after such a long association with the Anglican Church, both good and bad, being blessed to find there spiritual home. It is my hope that you too find the feeling of homecoming as my Mother and Mr Gratton have. And that, as we sing, let us find our rest in thee, we may mean this place at Church and King, as much as we do any future reward.