Library News – September

Someone had laid a small bunch of wildflowers on the plain stone altar. We were not the only visitors that day.

We had climbed up onto this high stony hill to see the chapel of St. Antoine, perched above the fields and woodlands of the valley, nearly a thousand years old. The village church was down amongst the houses. We had expected a ruin up here. But no. It was bare, but not empty. A few rows of benches were the only furniture. What it was full of was beauty and a sense of worship. The rounded sanctuary was painted from floor to ceiling, a simple pattern in faded colours. Clear light glowed on the walls and the arches and lit up the little side chapel. The whole space sang of the worship of God, and it was full of prayer.

We were in the Auvergne, a landscape shaped by ancient volcanoes. Abrupt volcanic cores jutted up unexpectedly, deep valleys cut down through the basalt to make impressive gorges. And it seemed that on every towering outcrop, on every sudden hill above a valley, chapels like these had been built. We saw them everywhere. They were all old, mediaeval relics. Placed to proclaim the power of the church, when signs and symbols said more than words. Irrelevant now, we thought. Charming, empty antiquities.

I changed my mind in the chapel of St. Antoine. This was a place where people prayed. There was a book on the altar inviting visitors to write a prayer or a devotion. I added mine. And saw these chapels suddenly as a network of prayer laid across the countryside. A network you only had to look up to seeā€¦.

We have a shelf in the Library that holds books of prayer, and books about prayer. Some are collections of prayers or meditations, some are written to help you learn to pray, some explain why we organise services as we do. I hope you will look there for prayer to learn and use. We should lay our own network of prayer across our countryside.

Rosemary Smith

No comments yet

Comments are closed