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This report is taken from PN Review 195, Volume 37 Number 1, September - October 2010.

From a Journal R.F. Langley
15 May 2004

Wendy and Noel came for lunch, and, after the meal, Noel and I were left sitting in the back garden while their dog was taken for a walk. The hawthorn tree was creamed almost solid with blossom and the wet weather had given way to steady sunshine. To make conversation with Noel I talked a little of The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, sections of which had been recently recalled to my attention and were fresh in my mind. I was cautiously not risking too much, touching on the relative values of argument and of personal experience, knowing that the time at our disposal was short and wondering what a professional clergyman might find to say, or care to say, jumped so suddenly. He was resting on a garden lounger, feet up, speaking about a holiday they were anticipating in Spain this autumn to celebrate his seventieth birthday.

He took the initiative, gently, without staggering. In his wallet he carries a small card with a very small leaf glued to it and a roughly scribbled border drawn round it. It is a silver birch leaf, but a diminutive one, browned but not brittle. And he wears a gold signet ring. Showing me the card and the leaf he explained that the ring was the wedding ring of his first wife (or, rather, perhaps, the ring she had given him when they were married) and that, after her death, wearing this, he had ...


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