Sunday, December 23, 2012

Countdown, Day 23: A Breath of Heaven (a memory)

After taking the long climb of stairs to the "whispering" dome
 at the top of St. Paul's Cathedral in London,
 we decide to stay for Evening Vespers in the sanctuary below.
Quietly, we sit in anticipation near the pulpit and
before long a priest comes to greet us in our front row chairs.
In a soft, low tone, he invites us to sit in the choir stalls
where orange lampshades glow in the evening dusk.

Surprised and thrilled at the invitation,
 we move to velvet-cushioned seats lit by lamps.
 With soft seating and hymnals laid out on ledges before us,
 the grand cathedral quickly becomes an intimate and homey space.
"We'd like you to sing the hymns with the choir, so please join in," he said.

As the processional begins and white-robed choristers flow into the stalls on both sides of the chancel,
we are soon surrounded by a heavenly host of male voices.
The universe suddenly expands for me and I slip along the spiral of time. Here in a vestibule to heaven, I fly away on wings of songs written ages ago. Across the space, young boys sing an a capella chant; behind us men sing a response. And so it goes, back and forth, one side to the other and back again, like the echoes of young and old, now and then~~ancient music, ancient rituals and
 centuries-old architecture still vital for contemporary worshippers like us.

As I join in the closing hymn, my body thrills with the excitement of ancient and modern together in one time and place for I know that, by contrast, when the service ends, we'll speed away from this lovely time warp via the "tube" (London's underground mass-transit)
 to return to our lodgings at Dolphin Square.

But, first, a stop at THE BLACK FRIAR PUB to sip an ale and savor all we've seen and heard this brilliant London day.



Hanne Bente said...

Hello Becky
Beautiful picture you show from a beautiful church (cathedral)
Wish you a good Sunday :) Hugs Hanne Bente

Barefoot from Heaven said...

wow I totaly feel the fibes coming this way Becky.....and you made me sit very very quitely so I can hear His Voice....
Thank you so much for sharing.
But puleasssee tell me you're not in London as we speak? Couse I want to meet up with you if you're there. Only on hour flight away from me.
Hugs Dagmar

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Beautiful Becky....So you are across the pond this Christmas?

Life 101 said...

That is a beautiful photo.

tammy j said...

oh dear heart.
you have captured london again for me. i loved it always before i saw it and loved it even more after seeing it. i've now heard the echoing voices and saw the mellow lights again. . . and shared your memories mingled with my own.
you have given me a precious gift with this post. thank you!
the marine visits your blog!
i didn't even know it. he linked from mine i guess.
he said over lunch the other day ~
"that abbey writer is really something. she has a real gift."
he seldom voices praise. lol.
thought you'd like to know!
and becky . . . we saw that gift again today.
XO dear heart
tammy j

Stan said...

What a memorable thrill. What an experience to hear that back and forth and being invited into the midst of it all. Wow.

yaya said...

Such a beautiful picture and memory. You made me feel I was there with you! Have a Merry Christmas!

S. Etole said...

What a majestic place to be at such a special time. Christmas blessings to you.