A RADIO continues to talk
where no one is listening, in a far-off room where the
early-morning sun is blazing away. "My grandmother made the most of
her life," a woman is saying. "That's it," I thought.
My wildflower meadow is
making the most of its life, as is the white cat as she fills it
with sleep. It is the spring holiday and, all the way to farthest
Sussex, cricket is being played on greens, and trees waver with
brand-new leaves. Perched in a lordly fashion in David's Land
Rover, I survey the Home Counties of England making the most of
their lives. Cricket and lilac, from door to door.
And, finally, the Charleston
Festival, below Firle Beacon; and the familiar company, the crack
of the marquee in the faint wind, and the ghosts of Vanessa Bell
and Virginia Woolf, the softer air, the hospitality, and this
yearly treat. I am to recall Benjamin Britten, now a century old.
We listen to his cantata Saint Nicolas as it sparkles its
way through the canvas cave.
Homeward bound, David says
that we arrived here on Trinity Sunday, and I want to quote my
favourite Trinity poem, but the lines elude me as they get somehow
embroidered in the lines of traffic. I faintly remember that their
author had lost his faith - although he always went to church on
Religion fills our head with
anecdotes. Have I told David this one? The Land Rover heads home
through the Dartford Tunnel. The Thames flows above us. The cars
are like beads being drawn through an ivory rod - are all their
passengers making the most of their lives? The Trinity poem falls
into shape. It is about the longueurs of the 26 weeks to
come. Then it gets run over by the traffic.
On Sunday, we shall go to
Blythburgh, where the Son sits on the Father's lap high up over the
river, and the stone dove floats above their heads. The Middle Ages
had no difficulty with the Trinity.
The yellow peony is out. It
has one flower a year, which must not be missed. Also, the Gloire
de Dijon roses, two of them on the house wall. A cuckoo brags, far
away. I plant lettuces out, and do some heroic weeding. On Trinity
One, I shall read the great peroration on love in the first chapter
of St John's Gospel, and in which our love is made perfect.
Two contrasting figures
emerge from the Holy Trinity readings: the one secretive, the other
open and challenging; the one didactic, the other wildly poetic;
the one set in his ways, the other shouting "Make way!" The
conventional man and the heady young man who claimed to be a voice,
and nothing more. Two people, who once upon a time would not have
been capable of saying anything intelligible to each other. John
the Baptist and Councillor Nicodemus. There they stand, in the
midsummer sunshine. And there approaches the three-fold God.
The Raj sun would beat down
on poor young Reginald Heber at this moment. "Holy, holy, holy", he
would sing. He was a parson-poet from the north who had met Sir
Walter Scott, and who had won the Newdigate poetry prize at Oxford,
and who was now a youthful bishop whom the heat would destroy. He
had written of the trilogy of earth and sea and sky, and of their
mutual praise. And thus the long, long Sundays after Trinity
stretch ahead, "neither feast day nor fast".