A few months ago, I was down in Winchester to attend a couple of events at Winchester College and found a little time for myself on the Saturday morning, anonymous and alone amongst the many inhabitants and visitors to the town. Feeling tired and fairly tender on the day, I decided to take myself on foot to the Cathedral, in the hope of finding a quiet corner where I might not intrude, and where I might be allowed to simply be.
Whilst there, I penned the following into my notebook …
~ : ~
In Winchester Cathedral
As I walked into the Cathedral, on a video screen I saw the words very clearly “Be Still And Know That I Am God” … before they disappeared, replaced on the screen with something else. I had walked in alone, in that moment, and felt as though the stillness and trusting message was especially for me.
I asked the lady greeting visitors at the door if I might be allowed to just come in and sit down. I barely had the emotional strength to explain that I was not a tourist nor a history scholar, merely someone needing solace. I did not wish to join the milieu, nor have to walk across to the ticket kiosk and deal with the business of being there. Thankfully, mercifully, I did not have to explain to her. The lady looked directly into my eyes, and asked if I wanted to pray. I said “Yes, just to sit and pray, and to write”. She looked as though she clearly understood my need and, without hesitation, showed me the way – “towards the wrought iron gates on the left hand side, and then left into the little chapel” – which has been set aside for this purpose. I was so grateful to be able to come here and be peaceful, alone.
As I walked into the chapel and sat down, the tears that had been gathering on the long walk down the side of the Cathedral were beginning to really flow free, and I was pleased to be able to let them out, completely alone and privately. Then I looked up at the beautiful flowers, in an arrangement near where I was sitting, and noticed snapdragon heads amongst them, and realised that they are similar to the few apricot-coloured snapdragon plants that I had inherited at [the home where we currently live], before I moved them out of the area near the house, into the Stables Courtyard. Not my favourite colour in plants by any means, but I felt as if they were a link to here, a message of some sort.
I opened the Bible sitting on the pew rail in front of me; it fell open at Proverbs 19.
Then I opened another page, after reading what had been shown, and saw Psalm 126.
I photographed the pages, to have a record of what I had seen and read. Some meaning was already and immediately there, but I felt that more meaning might come later, and wanted a record of what I had felt to be special and relevant messages.
Before entering the Cathedral, I had walked around the area in and near the shop and refectory beyond it, photographing the beautiful and meaningful bits to me, nurturing myself by being peaceful, enjoying the unrushed time to absorb what I felt led to and what I wanted to see.
Drinking in the peace at the Cathedral, even with the many other visitors and voices bouncing around the huge stone walls, I feel grateful for being understood, being allowed to stop, sit alone quietly, and simply be.
“Be Still, And Know
That I Am God”
Psalm 46: 10
~ : ~
As I was leaving the Cathedral, I slipped gold coins into the donation box, in thanks for the peace and understanding shown to me, by the kind lady at the entrance door. That time in the Epiphany Chapel had been a gentle, much-needed balm to my soul. I had felt momentarily as though, perhaps, someone truly is looking after me.