In St John's Wood, Aled Jones helps with animal stocktaking at London Zoo, discovers why Henry Olonga sacrificed his cricketing career, and introduces hymns for Lent.
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So it's almost Lent - a time to take stock of life,
and here I am at London Zoo, doing it quite literally.
I'm here counting penguins. Is that number 35 or number 36?
This week, we're in St John's Wood in London,
with plenty of pancakes, and more from London Zoo.
At Lord's, a story of sporting sacrifice.
I had a chance to speak out against injustice, and I took it.
And the sensational sound of Only Boys Aloud.
London NW8 is one of the poshest postcodes around.
It's full of faith communities, each with their own place of worship.
And you'll find plenty of blue plaques on these streets,
which tell of the movers and shakers
who lived and worked here.
It's also a place of pop pilgrimage.
Recognise that zebra crossing behind me?
It's next to Abbey Road Studios,
made famous by those four lads from Liverpool.
I've got to, haven't I?
# Roll up for the Mystery Tour... #
But what exactly IS Lent, and how do Christians observe it?
You have to use up your leftovers and you have to give up something.
If people like to eat, they'll have to give up eating,
and that basically means fasting.
Shrove Tuesday is another word for Pancake Day.
The word "shrove" originates from the word "shrive", which means
to turn around and repent of all the sins that you've committed.
The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday,
which is the day after Shrove Tuesday.
It's when you burn palm leaves and make ash,
and then you put the ash on your forehead in the shape of a cross.
Pancakes are made of egg, flour and milk.
They taste really tasty.
ALL: Happy Pancake Day!
The 40 days of Lent can be bittersweet, a time for
a fresh start, for discipline, and giving up unnecessary things,
but also of sorrow and solitude,
reflecting on Christ's journey to the cross,
and it's that journey we think of in our first hymn,
here in St Mark's Church. Praise To The Holiest In The Height.
Not far from St Mark's Church,
hidden behind the busy streets,
is the Regent's Canal.
Built almost 200 years ago,
it was far from quiet in its heyday.
International cargo passed through,
from gunpowder to blocks of ice.
Today, though, it's a haven for those seeking solace
from the busy demands of city life.
This is Little Venice, but it used to be called Browning's Pool,
after the poet Robert Browning.
Some say that he came up with the Venetian name, whilst others
suggest it was another poet, Lord Byron, who made the comparison.
Whoever came up with it, it's rather nice, isn't it?
'But today I'm not just enjoying the sights. I'm being taught to drive
'a community canal boat by skippers Dave and Kelvin.'
-Here we have a forward and reverse wheel.
'And the first thing I've learnt is you have to...slow...down.'
..and anti-clockwise to put it in reverse.
There's a four-mile-an-hour limit
but most of the time we go a lot slower than that, which is great
because it enables you to take in what's around you, particularly wildlife and things like that.
It's mad, though, isn't it, because you're in London -
the pace of life is always on and really fast.
The canal is one place where you can't. You can't go fast.
Do you find that you kind of reflect a lot, then, when you're out here?
Yeah. You can, because, you know, whilst you're concentrating,
you can still take time to think about God,
to think about what you're doing, to pray.
It's certainly easy to communicate with God when you are relaxed,
because there's no pressure.
You know, if you're held up at the lock, you're held up at the lock. You can't do anything about it,
so you just take it easy and enjoy it.
It kind of forces you to slow down because you can't go anywhere fast.
It's so beautiful and tranquil out here,
and in London in particular...
You can hardly believe you're in London.
It's like being away from the hustle and bustle of the city,
and it's like being away, like when Jesus went into the desert.
I can focus on people I need to pray for,
and reflect on my personal circumstances.
It gives me chance to be away from my business,
which is quite stressful at times,
particularly at the moment in the current economic situation,
where businesses aren't doing very well generally.
It just gives us chance to not focus on anything apart from God and
steering the boat, and just listen and be quiet and relax...
..and think about the mercy and grace of Jesus,
and everything he did for us on the cross -
his sacrifices he made for us,
and how life-changing it is.
I've always loved the look of St John's Wood Church.
It's so very, very pretty.
It really has the most lovely calm, beautiful, spiritual atmosphere.
Elizabeth Maxwell clearly remembers the day, nearly 30 years ago,
when she and her young son walked into this church.
I spent a lot of years erring and straying,
and, really, church didn't feature in my life at that time at all.
It was Good Friday morning, and Anthony, at the age of four,
quite naturally, wanted to come to the park,
which is next door to the church here.
My sight was becoming really very poor.
In fact, at that point, it wasn't safe for me to go out on my own.
And I had the most extraordinary urge...
to come to church. I've not actually had...
I hadn't had that feeling for many, many years,
and I couldn't help myself but I knew I had to come here.
He took me gently by the hand and walked me along to the church.
I felt as if we were both being drawn.
I got into the back pew and completely broke down.
It was the most extraordinary experience
because I felt as if I'd come home, spiritually.
Throughout this whole journey of losing my sight, I started to
understand and to realise that I was developing a very clear inner sight.
During Lent, I often think of it as three seasons in one.
It's a time of quiet, of reflection,
and then actual Holy Week itself is the really dark period.
And then, of course, you have the rising of Christ himself.
Liz now helps others facing the challenge of isolation,
by bringing them together for monthly tea parties.
'Losing your sight, you can become very, very isolated,
'and I think I felt that there was a clear choice.
'I was not going to let sight loss defeat me.'
..I think I had that, somewhat...
There is a big difference between looking at something
and actually seeing it.
'I see, now, from inside out - not from outside in.
'I just look and see things in a different way.
'Lent, for me,'
is a very enriching time. Rather like me losing my sight.
I mean, that's enriched my life,
so I associate Lent
with that period of great sadness,
great difficulty, reflecting on how I was going to cope,
but always knowing that there was the hope that it was going to be
all right in the end.
And I think it has certainly been all right in the end.
It's opened my mind and my heart to the knowledge
and the love of God, because without him,
I certainly couldn't be or do the things that I do today.
# Ave verum corpus
# Natum de Maria Virgine
# Vere passum
# In cruce pro homine
# Cuius latus perforatum
# Unda fluxit et sanguine
# Esto nobis praegustatum
# In mortis examine
# In mortis examine. #
If you visit this part of London in winter,
you might hear the sound of people counting,
as London Zoo holds its annual stock take.
Every creature has to be accounted for by zookeepers like Rob.
Each year we need to take stock and count all the different
species that we have here, and how many we have of each individual.
It's an important part of our zoo licence.
It helps our European and worldwide studbooks know exactly what
stock's in what zoos, so they can move animals around if they need to.
And I think we also,
we reassess that our value to conservation all the time
is something that actually has to happen not just once a year - we have to constantly be reassessing
what we're doing, and deciding exactly the right thing to do.
Ever since I was about three, I've been really fascinated by animals,
and so it's an incredibly self-indulgent job.
What do you prefer - humans or animals?
Er... Well, no human's ever bitten me.
I really like the giraffes.
They're fantastic creatures.
They have an incredible kind of presence about them.
I think it makes you feel quite small
when you work around the natural world and you realise just how
complex it is, and how understanding it is such a difficult thing to do.
I think it's humbling, more than anything.
You start to think about the relationship that
we have, as humans, with the natural world, and you see our impact,
and how to put right some of the wrongs that humanity's done to it.
We live in a time of instant gratification, don't we?
We want everything now, and we're not willing to put the time in.
-It's totally different here, I presume?
-Yeah, it is.
When you work with the animals, and the more you get an insight into their psyche
and what makes them tick, and then you also
know how to like their life better as well - more engaging and enriching.
-What have you learnt from the animals that you've worked with?
-I've learnt that individual animals
can be very, very different, even within the same species.
You have to take time to build a relationship with them and build that bond of trust
based on positive experience, really.
Making sure that the best things that happen in their life come from us.
And, yes, it teaches you to be patient and it teaches you to control
your emotions and stay calm, so yes, I suppose it's a lesson in life.
Do you live out what you believe in your work here?
I'd like to think that I get to use some of the patience
and some of the grace and the calmness.
Whether my colleagues would say I'm like that...
It would be another question! You'd have to ask them, but I'd like to think that I do, yeah.
# Our father
# Which art in Heaven
# Hallowed be thy name
# Thy kingdom come
# Thy will be done
# On Earth as it is in Heaven
# Give us this day our daily bread
# And forgive us our trespasses
# As we forgive those who trespass against us
# And lead us not into temptation
# But deliver us from evil
# For thine is the kingdom
# And the power and the glory
# For thine is the kingdom
# And the power and the glory
# And ever
# Amen. #
MUSIC: "BBC Test Match Special" theme
Lent isn't just about giving things up.
It may be the end of one season, but it's the beginning of the next.
Out with the old and in with the new.
Which is precisely what happens here at Lord's, the home of cricket.
It may be hallowed turf but every winter it's dug up
and replaced with a brand-new pitch.
For former Zimbabwe international cricketer Henry Olonga
Lord's will always be holy ground.
I think most people who love the tradition of the game,
who love the sport of cricket, understand that this is
a special ground - there is a lot of history here.
In '99, during the World Cup, I played here,
and it's got special memories for me.
I had a promising career ahead of me, but of course that all came to an end
after the next World Cup, which was held in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
With the world watching, Henry Olonga
and team-mate Andy Flower made a show of defiance against the regime
of their president, Robert Mugabe, by wearing black armbands.
It led to a warrant for Olonga's arrest,
and he was forced into hiding.
We were basically pleading with our leaders to lead righteously,
and, basically, to respect people.
I knew that I might have to sacrifice
my career, my way of life in Zimbabwe,
and, if it meant going into exile, a lot of friends and...
and just forsake the life I had before.
'Were you scared of making that sacrifice?'
'There were certain fears, definitely.
'But so strong was our conviction, we weighed up the cost and we felt that'
it was a price worth paying.
-Staying silent wasn't an option for us.
-Were you scared for your life?
'There was a time when I received some death threats.
'One of them was through my dad, who'd been contacted by a person who
'was very close to the Intelligence Organisation of Zimbabwe,
'and he said to my dad to let me know that after the World Cup
'they were coming for me, so'
I realised the game was up, in a sense,
and that I had to start thinking about life after cricket.
I really did feel like I was left out in the wilderness.
I got booed from the side by Zimbabwean supporters
and by some youth militia, and the newspapers started writing
So it was a really lonely period.
Christ himself struggled with a few things.
Hunger - we know he got hungry. We know he got tired.
We know he was abandoned by friends.
And some of those things I have been through, and it's quite comforting
to know that God isn't up there in Heaven completely oblivious
to what we are going through.
Henry now takes a stand in a new way.
He performs in Christian concerts around the UK.
'I've basically tried to share this wonderful message of God
'loving human beings and desiring to reach out to them.'
I certainly have heard that many people turn away from God
at a time of crisis, but in my own life, I've chosen to run to him,
because I've found him as a refuge in times of trouble.
'Not only has he been there to protect me and to provide for me
'in times of need, but I've also found him as a friend
'whom I can talk to.'
'But, as you said, it meant the end of your cricket career.'
My cricket career ended after eight years.
I was extremely privileged to play for my country, of course,
but there were big issues in Zimbabwe,
and if it meant the end of my career,
I'm pleased I did what we did, because
I have a clear conscience and I can at least look myself in the mirror
and know I had a chance to speak out against injustice and I took it.
Heavenly father, thank you for the simple things in life,
the things that really matter.
Jesus Christ, we thank you for your ultimate sacrifice,
for obeying the will of the father.
Holy Spirit, we thank you
for the gifts of knowledge, wisdom and insight.
So, two days till the start of Lent. What am I giving up?
Well, not singing - that's for sure.
For the next 40 days, many Christians will begin a spiritual
journey where they reflect on Christ's life,
and that's summed up in the words of our final hymn,
I Will Sing The Wondrous Story. Until next time, bye-bye.
Next week, David explores the gift of music
and how it transforms lives.
He meets young people in harmony and a choir singing away the blues.
Plus, there's music from gifted singers Laura Wright
and Ramin Karimloo, and hymns from St Mary's Church in Portsmouth.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Aled Jones discovers why Henry Olonga sacrificed his cricketing career. Aled also helps with animal stocktaking at London Zoo and introduces hymns for Lent and Only Boys Aloud in St John's Wood.