I am on my first big journey for this Papal blog. As I write I am on an East Coast train, bound for Edinburgh. I am thrilled to be making this epic journey and even more thrilled that the train has free Wifi, which enables me to send this to the world, or at least those of you have tracked down this little corner of the blogosphere.
In the days leading up to this trip I have become increasingly anxious about all the practicalities. I have worried and fretted and driven my family and friends mad with talking of nothing else apart from this visit. On the platform, waiting for the suburban train to take me to King’s Cross, I told another passenger (yes, there are people who catch the train at 0531) that I was going to Edinburgh to see the Pope. He asked if the Pope was coming to London, and when I said ‘yes’ there was an unspoken question in his mind as to why I didn’t just wait and see him there. I decided not to go into details.
Another anxious wait, in case the suburban train did not arrive, as the man who runs a small shop on the platform told me it has been cancelled three times out of the last five days. But mercifully the train arrives and as I board I find the carriage already contains a number of sleeping passengers. I think about all the people who regularly get up at this ungodly hour and marvel at those who work to make it possible for me to do this kind of thing.
I said ‘ungodly’ hour, but that’s wrong, of course. No hour is ungodly, and there are those who, even as I stood on that quiet platform, are saying Morning Prayer. The Prayer of the Church, which thousands upon thousands of Monks, Nuns, Prests and people say every day, at all hours of the day. I think of the monks at Ampleforth and of my friend, Fr Bede, who has me ‘on his prayer mat’ for this journey. I think of the Anglican vicar who is praying for me, and of all those who are supporting me ‘back home’.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word.