I read somewhere that you never know a place until you have been in it in utter darkness.  It always seemed an extreme and threatening notion, until one night I walked along a beach in West Africa and bathed in the light of the cool moon and marvelled at the freedom and solitude.

 Yesterday, as our Heritage Open Day at Elder Yard Unitarian Chapel in Chesterfield came to an end, the fuse of a light blew and the chapel's natural light was heavily dimmed.  Far from being dark or threatening, we found it was suddenly deeply atmospheric.  Indeed, as I lit the two candles on the top altar at the top of the chapel, it felt warm, secure and enclosed.  The darkened light far from being chilled, acted as a cloak protecting those of us gathered in there.

Now if you haven't been to Elder Yard let me explain - In short it is the location, the home, the spot where Chesterfield Unitarians are based and have been since their chapel was built in 1692/94.  Once connected to the town via a narrow passage that was between Saltergate and Knifesmithgate, that is now closed off (The Victoria Centre sits there now) and access is from Elder Way between the encampment of Co-operative buildings.  These all rise to three and occasionally four storeys whilst the Chapel sits confident, proud and settled in its grounds and backs rom the road - an enclave of clam, contentment and charm.

Now there are lots of places where you can sit alone and focus and drift and appreciate the world around me.  But I find looking back on my time that contemplation is not enough.  Now I like my own company, I can be alone and content, but I also like people.  In particular people watching is fun, fascinating and indeed revealing and this in-short is what I find draws me into places of worship.  The very notion of folks who have gone before, their legacies, decisions, conflicts and thoughts.  That combined with the opinions, views and thoughts of the custodians of today.  And in thinking of what my view of the world around, of my faith in humanity and of what sort of world we have, we preserve and we should conserve for the future.

And so my faith, my beliefs and my views on life it is based on the fun and appreciation not just of the natural world, but also of those that have gone before and those who are here today.  It's that mix of the past and the present, the lessons of life and of hopes for the future - that's what inspires, motivates and reassures me.

So when the dark falls, when the light rises and the peppering of noise and silence are interspersed, then I remember that we are all together in this place and we live and die together.