Don’t rush away; stay and ponder awhile

By The Revd Canon Andrew Bryant - 08 October 2015
Thursday Evening, 24th September, the Dedication Festival of Norwich Cathedral. The celebration of the Festal Eucharist has ended. The last notes of the organ voluntary have fallen silent. The air still carries the scent of incense and its smoke leaves a haze, which diffuses the lights.  And the people seem reluctant to leave.

There is something about the cathedral at night, which seems to attract and hold people.  Perhaps it is the stillness in the building which offers a calming embrace that invites the wanderer to themselves be still.  Perhaps it is the shadows that both hide and reveal the building in a different light, causing the wanderer to look afresh, offering a glimpse of the mystery that seems to lie just around the corner. Perhaps it is the sense of presence, the reminders of all those who have ever worshiped in this space and above all the sense of the presence of the One to whose glory this building was built. 

These prayer- soaked walls invite us to tarry.  Although this particular service may be over, this ancient space reminds us that there is always more.

And it is into this wonderful and evocative building that we welcome our visitors to come each day.  Each visitor is given a simple leaflet to introduce them to the essential elements of this cathedral church, guides are on hand to answer questions and reveal more of the history, there are exhibitions to be viewed, a shop to be explored and a café to be enjoyed.  And always something new to be discovered.

So much to see and so much to do, and lots of questions about what is this and why?  Explore. Ask. Enjoy. Feel at home in this sacred space.  But don’t rush away.  Before you go, find your favourite place, sit or stand there and be still.  Stay awhile and ponder and let the building question you, let it search you and let it discover you.  What is it trying to say to you?  What message does it want you to take away?

What ever brings you through the doors of this cathedral, may you enjoy your visit but may the building also gift you a sense of calm, a new light in your life and a sense of that presence that inspired those monks so long ago to use all their skill and knowledge to build, at the heart of their monastery, this great cathedral church.

If you take that time to sit and ponder perhaps you will begin to understand why, on that Thursday evening, the people were reluctant to leave.  And perhaps why you will want to return again.

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