Years ago when I was rehearsing for a production of ‘St Joan' in France, my director took me to Joan of Arc’s birthplace. I went into the old chapel which was built on top of the chapel where the young ‘Jeanne’ first felt she heard the voice of God. I cannot claim exactly to have heard or seen God, but as a patch of light shone over the altar something drove me to my knees. I felt suddenly as if I was somewhere between the past and present, between heaven and earth, between saint and actress. Every time I knelt on stage in the role thereafter I could feel that strange mixture of awe and wonder — something like the ‘fear of the Lord’ making my heart race and twitching in my muscle fibres. No acting was required. All I had to do was fall to my knees and remember.
Sometimes in the middle of prayer or praise you suddenly overwhelm me.
I don’t know how or why,
but I realise this is no longer a prepared speech or a polite conversation.
It is more visceral than that.
It’s like you cross the border from your body into mine.
I am speechless.
I am unsettled
Something like fear
something like wonder
courses through me
Tears rise unbidden
And all I can do is fall.
Every time it happens, I fall a little further into you.
Keep me falling into your wisdom, Lord.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant for ever.
Holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practise it have a good understanding.
His praise endures for ever.