Edna looked down the road, to where vast crowds of her parishioners hurried to the mosque. She welcomed Ragnar and Chardonnay into the vestry, with little Neveah holding the hand of her tiny brother.
"You see Rev", said Chardonnay, "we were thinking of a fairy princess wedding. But then we thought - maybe a christening instead?"
"Well," said Edna, given Ragnar is still married to the wife he left at home, we can't really consider a wedding..."
"So Norwegian weddings count?"
And visions passed through Edna's mind. The things she'd felt called for. A group of rosy-cheeked children and bearded basses singing the Fauré "Pie Jesu". The memory of incense in the chill of a Monday morning, gathered with a few faithful for Morning Prayer in an ancient building. Burying the elders of the village while the packed faithful sang "The Old Rugged Cross" and touched eternity. Not this round of Governors' meetings, at Church of England schools in name only. Not the endless begging for funds to replace the rusted tin roof and strip out the asbestos. Frankly, even the Lloyd-Webber "Pie Jesu" would be something,
And her colleague, Len, was retiring in Drizzleborough, next door. The bishop had already started mentioning "synergies" and "rationalisation." But those were never going to include closing a building. Some joker had listed this blistered shed as a "fine example of 1960s brutalism", and Drizzleborough had its lovely 13th century wool church - now isolated between the shattered warehouses by the canal and the roundabout on the town centre gyratory.
So this was it, she thought. The cultured obscurity of Williams's poetry, her own sense of the God's presence, all the things she dreamed - instead, snatching at divinity through a pile of paperwork and the wind howling through the cracks in the concrete.
In the dust swirling behind the young couple, George Herbert's spirit sighed, and banged his head against the crumbling wall.
"For God's Sake - Reimagining Priesthood and Prayer in a Changing World."