Approaching Westminster Cathedral, I prepare myself to dwell on thoughts of God’s greatness. That’s what cathedrals were designed to do – draw eyes upward, aid human minds in their contemplation of the impossibly eternal. But as I step under the watchful eyes of stone apostles, my mind fades to silent.
Later I will whisper a tearful “thank you” to William Wilberforce’s likeness in Westminster Abbey or, standing over David Livingstone’s grave, feel as though members of the great cloud of witnesses are suddenly drawing oxygen right next to me.
Tomorrow, I will be at St. Paul’s Cathedral and feel my entire being still at the rich, divine sounds of the sung liturgy in the afternoon evensong service. Sounded something like this:
But here, in Westminster Cathedral, I slip into the service without knowing what to think. I feel I am not enough to be here, to understand the beauty of the liturgy, the mass, imagery and symbolism wrapped up in every delicate, deliberate detail. You’re supposed to feel God’s bigness in a Cathedral – His immensity. I also feel my smallness, the delicateness of the breath moving in and out of my body. Now caught in my throat, now joining others’ in the singing of our responses.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, have mercy.
Then a meditation on Jesus’ words from the Gospel reading.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.
And the one speaking tells us that we who believe, we who participate in Jesus’ flesh and blood, we abide in Christ. And – shockingly! – Christ lives in us. All of His goodness, His righteousness, His love, His mercy breathing out through us.
The King – in whose honor this breathtaking cathedral was built…
The King – whose name and power upholds every magnificent story painted on these walls…
The King – to whom stars and planets sing praises….
This King dares to offer me His life for the living.
All of my smallness – my brittle intentions, my fragile loves – welcoming His bigness, His willingness.
And I have said yes – yes! – so many times to the offer of living in Him. Of hiding in Him, running to the refuge of Him, slipping in the rock cleft waiting for storms to pass over.
But His promise to live in me?
What to do about that?