Church is a tricky sort of thing to me at the best of times, and this isn't one of those. Like a moth to a flame, I am drawn to it, yet as I walk through the door wounds that might have been healing become raw again. Maybe they aren't really healing. So, I prefer to creep quietly in to an open church and light a candle and chat to the aumbry or a statue - there's a particularly nice statue of Saint Andrew in Old Headington church, who is a very good listener.
But sometimes it's time to face the throng, and Easter is one of those times. S. Andrew's provides an 8 a.m. Book of Common Prayer Service which suits me fine. It was done with the charm and elegance I have come to expect from our parish priest, and about 20 of us made our Easter communion accordingly to (mostly) the old rite, and didn't have to shake hands or be nice to each other or drink bad coffee.
That was a treat in itself. But there was an even greater one on the walk to church. We are down the hill in Barton, and Old Headington is up, and the main up-road is the largest in the village (if village it is), a grand avenue, suggestive of slightly delusive designs by an over-ambitious town-planner. It was quiet, a little misty, overcast, almost no one about.
And then there was a hedgehog. The first I have seen in Oxford for several years, and certainly the first since we moved to Barton. How often do we see any mammals alive these days? It looked in fine fettle, presumably lately out of hibernation, and dithering across the road in a way that couldn't but make you fear for its future. I hastened my walk, in case my presence on the pavement was daunting it from getting off the road. And then it disappeared under a (parked) car and I carried on to the solemn mysteries of Easter with a sprightlier step and a decided sense of joy and wonder.
"Icon" is perhaps an over-lavish word, but I did think a rolled-up hedgehog might be a sign of the oneness of things. I realise this raises the natural history stakes for Trinity Sunday somewhat.
Spring is sprung, Christ is risen, and the hedgehogs are out and about.
Happy Easter to all and sundry.