tracing out shapes

On the corner of our estate, where there was once a church, stands a bright new health clinic. A giant dandelion clock blows over it. And, if you are lucky, the bus driver will drop you off at the entrance, even though it is between stops.

I never made it to Mass at that church, and I only peeped through the windows of tiny St Thomas' opposite where my grandparents, father, great-grandparents, great aunt and uncle once lived. I wish I had known what it was like to worship, to make peace and to seek justice in those churches. I wish I knew how they fitted into the threads of prayers and song that are woven through this community.

But there are still three churches within a brisk walk from my home. A simple building perched atop the hill is the home of the Anglican church. Years ago, I went to morning prayer there, trying to find a start to my day.

The second church is the Christian meeting house, and, to be truthful, we are all a little scared of it. 'Come and here God's word preached,' it invites us, then, flashing with fire, sends us running, 'if the LORD wills.'

And the third church. It was familiar ground even before today. I knew this church - simple, friendly, reliable. But it didn't know me, so today I decided it was time to introduce myself. I turned off the road sooner than usual - a good mile short of my Methodist home - and popped into the United Reformed Church. Light dazzled us, turning white walls to silver, and trembling voices into song. A man preached simply and honestly, lifting up his fears for us to take comfort from. A woman welcomed me in, and told me how the church keeps welcoming, all week long.

I'm taking things slow, this settling in. I'm tracing out shapes and seeing how this place, in this moment, holds together; and how I might fit into it.