So today I got into work extra-early and at three minutes to nine I slipped off to church.
As I walked through the park I wondered how many people would be there. I enjoyed the smell of blossom from the trees and the brilliant colour in the feathers of the feral pigeons stomping about the grass. The sun is shining and it feels good to be alive. As I walked the bells of St John’s chimed to mark the hour and then struck nine. I would be just a minute late.
Except that when I arrived at the front of the church and at the steps I stood happily on yesterday, it felt deserted. The sign was there, advertising morning prayer. But the door was resolutely closed. I realised then that there were 3 huge sets of double doors, but all were locked shut.
I stood on the steps for a moment and took in the morning sounds of traffic, of people rushing by and the smell, wafting in from somewhere, of chocolate pastries.
Perhaps there’s another way into the church I thought. I set off around the Roman Road side of the church. High above me, I could see vaguely through the windows of the church that some lights were on and I couldn’t help but think to myself ‘the lights are on but nobody’s home’.
At the back of the church I noticed a winding set of steps and a woman just going in through a door at the top of the steps. I rushed after her, up the steps and pushed into a locked door. After a few seconds, the woman answered. I said that I was here for morning prayers and asked if this was the way in. I was told that the priest wasn’t in and the doors weren’t open yet but if I waited, she would open a door at the front soon. I thanked her, but decided just then that I might have morning prayers in another way.
I walked back to my office. Praying.
So I had my morning prayers anyway, in the sunshine and on the streets of Bethnal Green. I’d still like to attend an Anglican morning prayer, but I might check in advance the precise arrangements before I try to go again.