Tag Archives: Canterbury Cathedral

BDS Canterbury Tales: The Gift of PlaceĀ 

. . . The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne / Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne . . . (Canterbury Tales, Lines 7-8) 

This place is breathtakingly beautiful.  Every time I walk out of the courtyard of the Lodge I am struck by the ever present beauty of the Cathedral. Today gave us the opportunity to learn a it more about this amazing site. 

Most of today’s program was filled with two tours: a stained glass tour and a general tour which leaned into the theological roots and dynamics of this place. I was struck in both of these tours of the deep history of this place. I was struck by the way history had contributed to the preservation and the distraction of this place. The architectural and artistic inspiration this plac has had in the world is inspiring. 

Today it was easy to imagine pilgrims through the generations coming and gazing upon this sacred space. I wondered how many pilgrims tried to pray with the same hammering house I heard throughout the cathedral today. I wondered how many people were moved to tears as they knelt before altars and shrines. I wondered how many people, like one of my tour guides, still hold anger and resentment towards “the Puritans” for destroying so much of the artistic beauty of this place.

Stepping into the Cathedral is at the same time stepping into the past and looking into the futur. This place, with all its history, is a real gift. Today I realized, in a deeper way, how important this place is to the heart of my own faith and Anglican tradition. It was a powerful and humbling experience. 

While on pilgrimage, I’ve been rereading Thomas Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude. As I sat in the Quire reading and praying before Evensong I came across these words: 

The bells say: we have spoken for centuries from the tower of great Churches. We have spoken to the saints your fathers, in their land. We called them, as we call you, to sanctity (68).  

This place has called unknown numbers if people to enter into a closet and more intimate relationship with God. This place has called me into a closet and more intimate relationship with God. Today I give thanks for the gift of this place, and the important reminder of caring for our heritage and tradition: that which has been I trusted to us so that we might pass it along to future generations. 

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BDS Canterbury Tales: The Gift of Community

“Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote / The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote . . .” (Canterbury Tales, Lines 1-2) 

What a day, or should I say days! 

The Quire prior to the evening concert

We left New Haven at 4:30pm on Friday 10 March and arrived at the Canterbury Lodge at 1:15pm on Saturday 11 March. Since arrive on the Close our day has been very full. Lunch, time with the deal, Choral Evensong, dinner, and an evening concert. We certainly are making the most of it time here. 

Thus far, I have really been struck by community. The community here at Canterbury is amazing. There is a real sense that this is not just some ecclesiastical tourism destination – it is, first and foremost, a community of faith and it has been so for nearly 1000 years. It is amazing to listen to the Dean speak of the community here and how the daily schedule of worship is at the heart of everything they do. I find it truly remarkable to have a community so dedicated to maintaining the full and rich daily liturgical pattern of the Church. In some ways, it still feels like a monastic abbey. 

In addition to the present day community, there is also a powerful understanding of the community of all believes – past, present, and yet to come. As I entered the cathedral for evensong and took my place in the quire, I immediately felt the weight of prayer in this place. I was deeply moved by the rich tradition of Canterbury pilgrims that I am now apart of. No wonder I was moved to tears as the choir offer an absolutely beautiful time of prayer. Today was the perfect example of why I love evensong so much – even when it is choral evensong and not congregational evensong. What a gift to add m my own prayers to this well prayers place. 

I cannot write about the profoundness of community in this place without writing about my fellow pilgrims. There are 18 of us on this trip – 18 very different people. It is no secret that our class has not always been the most unified, but I cannot imagine being here without these 17 other people. The conversations and levels of sharing are already so deep – even on this first day. Tonight I learned things about my cohort I never had the opportunity to learn before. As our time together comes to an end, I am particularly thankful to spend this time together with my cohort. What an incredible gift. 

As a group of us walked back to the lodge tonight, we entered the courtyard and turned around to marvel at the beauty of the cathedral lit up in the hazy night sky. What a perfect end to this first day of pilgrimage. 

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