On first visiting Canterbury Cathedral

Categories: Church,Stories

“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing….”

Hymn 688, The Hymnal, 1982

Canterbury CAthedralIt has been many years now since I first saw Canterbury Cathedral, but the feeling I had when I first came upon the building has ever remained with me.  A feeling of something more than I could grasp, of awe, wonder, mystery, beauty, and majesty.

A small party of us traveled down to Canterbury from London, by train, and arrived at our bed and breakfast in the late afternoon.  I was so excited at the idea of seeing the Cathedral that, although it was almost nightfall, I got directions from our host, and set out, walking to find it.

It was a misty evening.  It seemed everywhere was covered in a light fog but, following the directions I was given by the owner of the bed and breakfast where we were staying, off I went.

Suddenly, I turned a corner, and there was the Cathedral!  Half shrouded in mist, looming up before me, conveying power and mystery, though half hidden from view.  I stood there for a very long time imagining the many, many pilgrims arriving to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket . How infinitely small I felt!

As I stood there gazing at this building that has meant so much to so many for so long, I thought of Solomon as he dedicated the first temple; his words then came to mind: “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18)(KJV)

Still I knew that God stood with me that night.  He was very near. I suspect that thousands and thousands who have made a pilgrimage to this place have also felt, with me, that God was near.

Joy James Williams

Director, Christian Formation and Education

Saint James in the Hills


December 2013


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