Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Premonitions and apprehensions

Yesterday evening I had dinner with two Anglican clerical friends and the conversation turned to dreams of premonition and occasions where people apprehend the presence of those long dead or at least their continuing impact. We shared various personal experiences of this type of phenomena or stories whose source we considered to be reliable. They both had stories of historic churches where such encounters had taken place, and we also spoke about places with a sense of malevolence.

Describing such things is difficult, but we agreed that they are events that one remembers and understand as disclosures of an unseen but real spiritual force or of an unseen but still potent memory. In some instances they were anticipations of the deaths of relatives or those in the public eye, in others cases of a trauma imprinted on a place and apparent to some. We agreed that those who dismiss the spiritual from their own lives and seek to do so from the lives of others are ignoring a widepread part of human, and indeed spiritual, experience.

When I got home I heard on the radio part of Book of the Week, in which Sir Alec Guinness' well known account of his premontion of the death of the actor James Dean in 1955 was read as part of an anthology. Coincidence or what?

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