Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times – Asian Proverb
It’s Sunday. A traditional Church Going Day for some.
Why am I writing about Church Going on my Travel Blog and not on my normal cecilyswritings blog?
I’m listening to Kate Mosse (twitter.com/.katemosse), renowned author, talking about how religion impacts her writing and life. Not a long interview, and a few of her words and thoughts are very much mine.
I feel my values, though, are not solely about religion but through my upbringing. Watching and learning from my parents, my grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, close friends – all role-models. These people were not all of my religious background, so my base from which I learnt and continue to learn, and question, is wider than religion. Now that I am a “grown up”, for me, it does not matter whether or not I go to church every Sunday. It doesn’t matter that I visit other churches or partake in other religious ceremonies. What matters is how I live my life. It’s definitely about the people, not the religious beliefs. It’s about a way of life. About how you treat each other. Love has no specific religion, in my opinion.
Travelling to visit churches
Back to why I’m writing on my travel blog about churches, places of worship. Simply because there is a strong pull to churches. Wherever we have travelled, there is a church or churches, cathedral, temple, mosque, that are just a must see. Many are thousands of years old. Many are absolutely beautiful inside and out. What workmanship. Intricate. Elaborate. Others are simple but nevertheless are respected as places of worship. Simple but respected, just as are the more flamboyant for example The Golden Temple (Wikipedia.org), one of India’s incredible places.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar, said to feed over 100,000 people a day, is an amazing complex – it is not just the temple. The video below shows the experience when visiting this elaborate place. More so it’s about seeing the everyday workings of the Temple. The Kitchen. Cooking to feed thousands no matter their religion. No matter who they are. See the skills at another level in order to feed this number of people. Humanitarian.
When we travelled to India we visited churches, mosques and temples (travelindiasmart.com). So many beautiful, richly encrusted examples of skillful architecture and workmanship. Of course, we could not visit India without visiting the famous, exquisite Taj Mahal with its emotional love story. The architecture. The history. The craftsmanship. The pure symmetry. This is the pull for us. The pull to these places of worship, whether well-known or simply the local church. Craftsmen have put their hand to these buildings lovingly. In many cases maybe not lovingly – cheap labour? Slaves come to mind. But it’s many years and years of work. Beautiful places they are. The craftsmanship is second to none. Is the stone masonary craft in decline? Will we see such intricate work in the future? Here is a link to an interview with a stonemason in the UK (The Guardian). I do hope there are apprentices in these crafts, stone, wood, and other materials, so that the crafts of beautiful buildings continues and does not die a death.
Churches are fascinating
If you Google Travel and churches as like anything else, there is loads to find. Amongst them these links might whet your appetite to travel with a different aim if that’s what you’d like. There are times when travelling and visiting one more church is just one too many. However, I quite like the idea of visiting some of these quaint churches.
- The most beautiful churches in the world – The Telegraph
- Ethiopia’s living churches – The Guardian
- The quirkiest churches in the world that you can visit – Mail Online
- 7 of the coolest, quaintest churches from around the world – Wanderlust
St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean
On the little Island of St Helena, set in the South Atlantic ocean, my sisters, cousin and I visited the quaintest church up on Blue Hill, where some of our family still live. A church so very simply, but still with that aura of peace as any marvellously built, historical, architecturally, fabulous church would feel. We met our family for the first time on our visit a few years ago and heard stories of marriages, births and deaths in that little church. For such a small island, with a population of 4,535 (2016), there are many churches of all shapes and sizes, as you’ll see if you follow this link, and we visited quite a few.
I have fabulous memories of St Helena, and that is another set of blogs that’s waiting in the wings for me to write my memories. To share with you if you care to take that journey with me.
Somehow, there is a feeling of peace in every place of worship. It does not matter what the religious leaning. What the place. Peace is the overarching bond.
Back to the interview with Kate Mosse
Kate M is talking about a poem. It sounds very much like something I want to read. As is the norm, Google throws up a selection of websites in a second.
I read. I like. I want to share.
My blog is a collection of things that I want to write about. Or things that I want to remember. I want to make it easier to find in the future. Maybe someone else will like what I like, I tell myself. Maybe someone else will want to share or save what I like too. I write for pleasure on my blogs. I write as a way to relax from my day to day work.
But now, on to the poem that started this blog – Church Going. If you enjoy visiting places of worship on your travels, I’d love to hear from you.
Church Going by Philip Larkin
Once I am sure there’s nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,
Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new-
Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don’t.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
“Here endeth” much more loudly than I’d meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.
Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?
Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,
A shape less recognizable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,
Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation – marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these – for whom was built
This special shell? For, though I’ve no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;
A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.
Travelling to places near or far. This blog will trace our journeys, our travels. Will report the good and the not so good. Sharing photos and experiences that may be useful to you at some time in the future. Just saying … the posts may be written after the event!
I would love you to accompany me from time to time on my travels to places near and far. Thank you for following www.cecilyswritings.wordpress.com and www.cecilystravels.wordpress.com and look forward to hearing from you.
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