Everyone wants to avoid the rush hour. No-one wants to be on the arterial roads between the town and the motorway when the traffic is hardly moving. The desire to avoid rush hour means that the easiest time to leave school is just after five o’clock – the motorway is reached in a few minutes.
So it was today, a sequence of green lights and an easy drift down the slip road and onto the motorway. The torrential rain that had disrupted a lesson had disappeared, the tarmac was dry and the sky a deep blue. The few clouds were a wispy White.
An annoying track came on Radio 6 and I switched it off. Steve Lamacq is usually excellent in the choices for his programme but sometimes there seems to be too much effort to be diverse. Sometimes the fact that a band has enjoyed no commercial success is a reflection not of a lack of good taste on the part of the listeners, but is instead a reflection of the reality that the band just aren’t very good musicians. Playing music by musicians who are not very good is probably not the best way to build up the listenership of the programme.
The annoying music was serendipitous. The silence and the quietness of the motorway allowed an opportunity to notice the countryside around – the Mendip Hills, the Levels, the light on the water of the Huntspill River. I wondered why I hadn’t turned off the radio on other days, why I hadn’t just spent more time in quietness.
One Wednesday evening, in days in theological college, the address was given by a saintly man called Bill Browne. Bill was known for thoughts that were provocative, thoughts that were quirky. He read us a story about “the precious present,” a story I have never found. It was not the book of the same name, for it would have been too long for an address at a service.
Bill’s emphasis on the preciousness of the present moment was one of those lessons that seemed very worthwhile, one of those maxims with which it would be hard to disagree, one of those pieces of timeless wisdom that everyone should embrace. Of course, it was remembered as a story and forgotten as a wise piece of advice.
There was a German mystic who once said, “I am here and the time is now.” Here and now can be more precious than they seem.