Thursday, 10 December 2009
Last night I went to the Breast Cancer Care carol service at St Paul's cathedral, which was beautifully Christmas-y; and it felt like such a great privilege to sit within that inspiring church. As a Londoner, it's easy to take the city's grandest architecture for granted (head down, rushing through the streets, rarely looking up to the skyline) but whenever I emerge out of the fuggy darkness of the underground station at St Paul's, to be confronted by the graceful outline of the cathedral, I always feel glad to be alive.
I've been involved with the charity since 1998, after my sister died of breast cancer (I co-founded the Lavender Trust that year, which provides Breast Cancer Care's services for younger women); the carol service is one of many fundraising events through the year, and perhaps the loveliest. The cathedral choir sang like angels, and there were some wonderful readings, including this poem by Rowan Williams, read by Jeremy Irons. I hadn't come across it before, but thought it worth sharing with you.
He will come like last leaf's fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.
· From The Poems of Rowan Williams, published by Perpetua Press