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And this fabulous can of soup

We went to a church flower festival this weekend, one of England’s zanier natural disasters. How it works is, they pick a theme for the festival, and a dozen or so people make flower arrangements and little tableaux on the subject and scatter them around the church. There’s usually a helpful program.

That doesn’t sound weird? Well, this is how it usually ends up: say the theme is “summer activities”, you’re going to find a vase of zinnias and a grubby sneaker in the pulpit. And a bowl of badminton shuttlecocks with petunia in the baptismal font. (Hello? Salvador Dali called: he’s a lit-tle creeped out and he’d like a ride home now, please).

There’s usually refreshments and some stalls and other fundraising things outside, in aid of the church building. Bits of this church are 900 years old. It has clearly been extensively renovated many times over the centuries. There’s a sign on the tipjar by the door that says it costs £100 a day to keep the building together.

And that’s the thing. This is a little community to pony up a hundred smackers a day. And, without breaking a sweat, I can think of a dozen villages around me with small populations and beautiful ancient churches to keep afloat.

The big ‘C’ Church helps with the costs, of course, and there are various architectural grants and things. But these great old buildings are mostly kept alive by locals. I don’t know if it’s a Christian thing, this bedrock devotion to the church building. I suspect not. It’s very powerful, though.

Oh, I won that can of soup in the raffle. Only cost me a pound in tickets. I like to imagine some nice old English lady shrieking, “oh my lord — the flower festival is today! Quick, go into the kitchen and grab something. Anything!”

June 25, 2013 — 10:54 pm
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