Yesterday was a day where I felt contemplative for the most part. The Underground line we needed was overcrowded and Margaret and I made our way on trains that made me feel a bit claustrophobic. After much waiting, we finally arrived at the Tower of London which had a fair amount of people milling around and we split up like we tend to do taking as Margaret put it the other day, “ separate field trips.”
Having been to the Tower before, I went more slowly than I would when exploring a historical space and spent a lot of time thinking about the lives of the people who had lived within its walls as both the keeper and the kept. There is no escaping the burden and responsibility of those who had the power and those who coveted it.
As the afternoon wore on a rainstorm came up suddenly, sending people hurrying for shelter and I went in search of my sister. I was tired of thinking too much anyway … stuck as I was on what memories we leave behind when we die. It is difficult not to think about when all around you are the stories of those whose lives were impacted by their own actions or those of others.
All Hallows By The Tower
Walking away from the Tower, we came across a small church of great significance. All Hallows by the Tower has been as they put it a “ A Christian Beacon on Tower Hill since 675 AD. ” If you are ever in London, I would suggest you visit this place where The Saxon Abby of Barking founded the church as their literature states in 675 AD.
Underneath in a crypt there is a small museum complete with tiny cobblestones from a Roman floor and other evidence of city life for almost 2000 years. There is a link to American history as well as details about the almost total destruction it suffered during WWII.
All of its history and artifacts made for interesting reading, but the important part of our visit was found as one usually expects or hopes in its service. Margaret and I happened to arrive as they were getting ready for a something called a Taizé Service which is a short service using prayer, chants and silence. Simple and meditative was just what it was with a perfect mix of scripture readings and music made up only of voices.
It was exactly the thing I needed to lift my spirit and an unexpected gift on a day heavy with too much contemplation and dark thoughts. There was biblical reading about, “ all those who seek me … “ and the service finished with a simple prayer that ended gently with the words … “ Have the courage to live your life.”
Afterwards when I stepped outside on to a wet London sidewalk and looked up to see the image below, I couldn’t help but remember from the bible stories of childhood about the message from God found in each rainbow. It was an interesting finish for a doubting, but still seeking ” Thomas.”
While I don’t usually ask for gifts and I am generally funny about receiving them, I wonder if I might ask for one from those of you who are reading this today. It doesn’t matter if you come across this after September 10th, I will still see a comment if you leave one for me. If you would … please take a second to tell me your favorite post I’ve written here at Gifts of the Journey or maybe a little something about yourself if you’d rather.
I’ll be back tomorrow with Day One, the final post of the big birthday countdown and I want to say thanks to all of you who have been reading and commenting over the last few days in particular. It makes all the writing mean just a bit more to know it matters to someone other than just me. xo