“Because I’ve known beauty in the stillness of cathedrals in the day”
(Glory Hallelujah ~ Frank Turner, 2011)
This is not the post I had planned to follow up the previous ones from Edinburgh. I had started a draft of that follow up, but somehow these thoughts today got in the way. I’m in Dundee for a few days at the moment and after I “bagged a Munro” yesterday, I decided to take it easy today. Strolling around after some coffee, cake and a stop at the local Waterstones, I came across a sign at St. Paul’s Cathedral Dundee inviting people to the Choral Evensong at 6.15. I can’t really say, what draw me to it. The idea of finding some calm and peace by listening to an evensong? Maybe, even though I didn’t feel stressed or rushed or in particular need of peace and rest and such. I went anyway and was greeted welcomingly by the reverend on the church steps outside. And all of a sudden I had this weird flashback to a similar experience at a church in Birmingham (I think) 33 years ago.
In 1986, when I was not even 11 years old and had learned English for less than a year in school, my dad, who was an English teacher took me along when he went to a 3-weeks training course in England. He and other teachers were sitting in at lessons in various schools and I was enrolled in one of the schools he started his course. Looking back it was an amazing experience, not alone because I had my dad for myself for whole three weeks and didn’t had to share him with my three brothers. And he was happy about the company in the evenings and on the weekends and during the long drive over. I don’t recall all that much from the whole trip. Fragments of the school and classmates. The headmistress of that school, who on the days when my dad couldn’t take me to school, picked me up and even more I remember that she also took her old dog to school with her. Trips to the supermarket for some snacks and accidentally buying the wrong things. A weekend visit to Coventry Cathedral, where for the first time I started to grasp the magnitude of destruction Germans brought to other nations in WW2. (Yes I know Germany was bombed to pieces as well, but the Germans started it, so…).
I remember that one church visit including taking part in the church service in Birmingham so well, because after the service the reverend was saying goodbye to people at the back of the church and my dad started talking to him about where we’re from. They might have even exchanged contact information? I remember the surprise to learn that the service had similarities to the Catholic service I was familiar with. I also remember that it was a few days after Olof Palme had been killed in Stockholm, as there was a condolence book at the church as well and my dad wrote some words in it. He was a staunch socialdemocrat after all.
Usually I don’t believe in “signs” or whatever you want to call it. But maybe I was supposed to come across this evensong announcement today and to meet the reverend at the door and get transported back to the memories of that long ago church visit with my dad. It definitely wasn’t a “sign”, but mere random circumstances that I watched the 5th episode of Lucifer Season 4 last night, which brought me close to tears, when Amenadiel talked to Chloe about her dad and the penny dropped for Chloe.
Exactly 30 years ago today, 12th May 1989, my dad died. Unexpectedly at 56 years old. It feels like a lifetime ago and it is in a way. Memories of him are fleeting, because he’s been gone such a long time now. I don’t think of him all that often anymore, but of course he’s been on my mind – and my subconscious obviously – a lot today. And of course I also sometimes wonder, if he’d be proud of the woman I’ve become. I tend to believe that he would be. As an avid hiker himself he would have loved to see me discover my interest in that activity decades after we went on a lot of family hikes. And he probably would get a kick out of my love for ‘good old Britannia’. He started that one after all…