August, summer transfiguring into autumn: begins with a celebration of the loaf mass (now forgotten) and a feast of extraordinary people. A tumble of men and women who changed the world. A feminine month pregnant with harvests, Our Lady holds the ring, with all the femininity of care, centredness; and all the masculinity of pushing the boundaries. Accepting the final cost is here too: ask the son of Tolomey. The downing sun cools as the four weeks slide away and the summer ends, sudden as rooks, cool as jackdaws. The detonation of hideous revenge eclipses in the secular mind the infinite glow of the light no fuller’s bleach can match. This is a high risk area, but no one takes notice. Schools are at rest, their dozing buildings are peaceful in the drizzling sun. Their warm doors closed to the clatter of learning feet. Children and teachers strain to re-create the space to learn. The empty classrooms long to hum again with children’s voices, and the unnatural quiet of the playgrounds make us think the Piper has taken all away for ever. Maybe there will be some painting, some building, some new thing for the new year. But nothing substitutes for the call of children. Then, from the prison camps of summer heat, incinerating our freedoms, we confess, with mothers and the lesser saints the diaconal life, the pilgrim’s way, the songs of the first-born, the pain of conversion. We rejoice in teaching and preaching, so long as others do it; the month is set for us by sitting before the one with who we have to do and, like Bartholomew, losing the rough skin of our deceit. We slough, as reptiles, the month away. Should he be Nathaniel we would barely care, even if anything good should come from Nazareth. We are on holiday and life will not start again until the month is out.