The early morning light

Early morning light through the vestry doorway illuminates the icon in St Mary's Swanage

Early morning light through the vestry doorway illuminates the icon in St Mary's Swanage


The tradition of building churches facing east is an old one. For those of us living in the West it means that as we sit in church we are facing Jerusalem, and also we are facing the rising sun. It is striking on an Ascension Day morning to go to St Nicholas’ in Studland, and be almost blinded by the sun streaming through the clear glass of the east window at the early morning service there. Let us hope that we are back in our churches for 21st May (Ascension Day this year) and can experience once again this wonder as we contemplate Christ’s ascension from the Mount of Olives in glory. One needs a clear morning for this effect, of course....

In St Mary’s, the early morning light shines through the magnificent east window, and, with the vestry door open, it falls on the icon, the gold leaf glowing with the brightness of the sun. I know that we may feel that to stand on the beach or walk to the top of a hill and see the sunrise is just perfect, but I love the golden light on the icon, drawing our eyes to its beauty, and our inner eyes to Christ; born for us; dying for us; rising to new life, that we too may live.

John Mann