Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hydraulic civilisation?

Once upon a time - a year ago, almost exactly - I wrote a poem based on something we had done in church, something that involved filling the font with water, reeds and paper boats, something that reminded us of Moses. So why am I remembering this now?

Because I was interested to check dates. Because a couple of days ago we had that most rare of occurences: a baptism. Not of anyone from the neighbourhood, but of a delightful Irish baby for whom a small group of us sang suitable hymns and who was welcomed into the Christian family in a church far from her home. So far so lovely.

But in the frenzied preparations for this service - for these things are always a bit last-minute when there is no resident priest - I was suddenly aware that there was a sound of ... well, baling. Someone at the back of the church was baling water from the font. At the time I thought there had been crossed wires in the symbolism department - some inexperienced acolyte filling the font before the service began, perhaps. But no. Apparently when the acolyte in question lifted the big wooden lid from the font they found it full of slimy water and ... bits of grass. It was still the river Nile in there, and it took some nifty work with a jug before the service could take place.

I did tell someone, once, that the font was never used without an inner container. I did mention that the drainage was in place for its original position, in the Lady Chapel, but that there was a good chance of water in the font never leaving under the force of gravity. But there you are. I guess it'll be a wee bleach job the next time I'm martha-ing - and the odour of sanctity will be antiseptic rather than fragrant.

Never thought I'd see the day when I felt like a paragon of righteous domesticity ...

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