St David’s in the seventies. A family walking the cliffs around the tiny city on the sea; well, they were walking, but she was skipping. She was, after all, six. She was lost in her own thoughts, as was often the case in those days, out with her family but alone on the edge of the world, skipping.
From far, far away, a few feet behind her, she distantly heard the frantic voices of her parents, shouting in unison, “STOP! Stand still!”
She stopped, mid-skip, and returned to reality, one foot hanging in the air, inches short of the cliff edge. The path had turned ninety degrees just behind her, but in her own little world, it was straight on till morning, and she had nearly skipped straight off the earth.
I seem to remember that David was not keen to become archbishop of Wales. He was dragged out of a peaceful life of prayer and set amongst bickering bishops and given the task of setting them straight, or turning them around, as seemed best to him. His life of prayer never left him; but he was persuaded by voices not his own that his own road would not bend to his will, but that he must be guided by those around him who saw in turn where his leadership could help the church not to fall off a cliff.
We do not discern our life’s work, our ministry, even our passion alone. We are influenced, warned, repelled, drawn out, distracted and sidetracked, and saved by those around us; those we hear, those whose stories we read, those who pray for us.
I wonder how often David, a monk all at sea in the archepiscopacy, took to those narrow ledges to wander in the quiet of the distant surf and seagulls, the plain salt air, lost in thought, lost in prayer, and who it was that watched over him.