Some photos of Guyhirn Chapel - a place in the heart of the Fens built for the preaching of the word

A couple of weeks ago an old Oxford college friend and I went out into the Fens for a day. He and I share a great love of this landscape and its history. My love for the fens has grown over the twelve years I've lived in Cambridge but his goes much further back since he spent some of his childhood in Doddington where his great-grandparents and grandparents once farmed. One of the places we visited that day was Guyhirn and what is now known as the Chapel of Ease. It's a place built for the preaching of the word and, as a great lover of the Biblical text, I find this place overwhelmingly evocative of the kind of English Christian spirituality into which I was born and to which, for all my theological scepticism, I remain utterly loyal.

However, regular readers of this blog will know that, despite my great love of the word I'm no Biblical fundamentalist, far from it - and though I must be careful about what is meant by this in fact I'm a certain kind of Christian Atheist. Anyway, the crucial point I want to make here in connection with this beautiful chapel and the word is that although I still think there is ‘the right word to speak, the one properly required for this sentence (if only [we] can hear it)’, in the end ‘it is the word properly required only for this sentence, not for the next or the next.’ As James C. Edwards goes on powerfully put it, ‘It is the right word, the only right word; but it is not the Word of the Lord, nor of any of the Philosophical Fathers’ (James C. Edwards, The Plain Sense of Things, Penn State Press 1996 p. 234)

Here, at Guyhirn on such a beautiful spring day, I was forcefully brought before the continued need always to be seeking the right word to speak to our own fractious times.