Urban living can be an alienating experience. I live on a shortcut between a train station and a tube station, and every day, before crossing the front door, I feel myself taking a sharp intake of breath before throwing myself into the mass of people running to catch their tube to work or their train home. As everyone is stuck in their groove, in their daily routine, it is obvious that no one is about to let me through without an assertive movement on my part, and so I metaphorically pinch my nose and jump, ready to be scowled at. It gives me a real sense of diving into a dehumanised world that does not seem to have time to care.
London, and large conurbations, can be places of intense solitude despite the number of people around us. I never felt more lonely than in a march that gathered over a million people some years ago. It is the most extraordinary and upsetting experience.
In the loneliness and wilderness of the crowd, it is quite hard to remember my worth as a unique human being. But by stopping and focusing on the present moment, by creating inner silence, I know that I, and everyone around me, intensely matter to God who is present now and for eternity. This helps me to not yield into the temptation of behaving towards others as I would not like them to behave towards me.
The Rev’d Bertrand Olivier, Vicar of All Hallows by the Tower