Last weekend we ventured across the Channel to visit our fellow intern Molly in London. London bursts with national pride, with grandeur and eloquence and all things proper. In keeping with the nature of our weekend trips we walked miles, visiting the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The Globe and St. Peter’s. We were awed by the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and stunned by the majesty of Westminster and Big Ben.
Perhaps our most incredible experience was attending service at Westminster Abby. We thought we had missed it as I, a lover of my sleep, refused to get up at 6am to leave (silly me as I would later find out). After we finally left our hotel we decided to venture back to Westminster Abby, just to see the outside. By a stroke of luck, we were able to attend a later service. It was perfect.
No photos allowed, for an hour and a half we merely sat and looked. Words cannot describe the beauty of Westminster Abby. Every inch of the walls is adorned in marble tributes to the deceased greats of England. Larger-than-life statues tower over worshippers, busts of England’s famed turn inward toward the congregation, and plaques pay homage to those gone before. The stained glass windows give beautiful honor to the saints, and the caverns of the Abby seemed like open arms. I felt that surely there could only be room for love and thanks in a place such as this.
Molly, Sara, and myself have been raised in different faiths and none of us are members of the Church of England. I think that many of the churchgoers who visit the Abby are not Church of England practitioners. I imagine that many, like us, came to the service with the intent to see the inside of the magnificent church. However, I believe that no matter one’s faith, it would be impossible to sit there without feeling the history catalogued across the walls, without imagining the weddings and burials of England’s royalty, without feeling the power bestowed inside. It would be impossible to sit through that service, in that astonishing building, and not feel incredibly blessed.
As I sat there, I could not help but note the peace. All of those people, come to see Westminster Abby, awed into silence and prayer. I found myself wishing that the world could model this behavior more often. I wish that a mutual love of beautiful things and an appreciation for history could bring people together, regardless of religion. I wish that faith, not necessarily the same faith, but respect for each other’s faith in something bigger than ourselves, could bring us together. And I think if a few hundred people from all over the world, from all different types of beliefs, can sit together peacefully for an hour and a half… it must be possible.