I read a chapter from my first book, Wandering Between Two Worlds at St. Nicholas Church, Oxford, last Saturday at a benefit reading for Divya Shanti, an orphanage in Bangalore.
One gets spoiled in Oxford, as events are rarely mediocre. My fellow readers included the poet, professor and editor, Jon Stallworthy– I owned anthologies of his when an undergraduate!–the novelist, Lorna Fergusson; a GP who writes about snails, and an American poet and playwright. And a minor bonus is that my book is now in the top 60 in the Religion section in Amazon. Not bad for a book published 4 years ago!!
Another way one is spoiled in Oxford is the wealth of history. St. Nicholas is a pre-medieval church, granted in 1122 to the canons of St. Frideswide’s Priory by Henry I. It has the oldest continuously used chalice in Britain, I was told–continuously used from the middle ages.
Since, for now, we go to an enormous church, 1200 or so regular attenders, we have had no experience of small Anglican parish churches. This congregation seemed lovely, warm, and supportive, and I was really impressed that they have adopted Divya Shanti, an Indian orphanage which they support regularly. It must be easier to get things done in a small church. They seemed cheery and good-natured, and worked together happily.
The reading raising over £1000 for a library for the school and orphanage. It illustrates Mother Teresa’s axiom that perhaps all we can do is remove drops from the ocean of misery–but the ocean would be greater were they there.
I thought too of Loren Eiseley’s starfish story.
Here’s a couple of links to Divya Shanti, the orphanage the church supports.