Tuesday, May 29, 2012

St. Paul's Cathedral

After our pilgrimage to the Courtauld, we walked down The Strand and paid a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral.  We arrived just as they were finishing up Evensong, so we had a chance to sit down and listen to some of the soaring and lovely music.

Here's a YouTube video somebody posted 
that shows a snippet of Evensong music at St. Paul's.  

The day we went to St. Paul's happened to be tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  It felt odd not to be in the U.S. on the 9/11 anniversary.  

At the Blitz and Firefighters Memorial across the street from St. Paul's, 
many people had placed wreaths, including some to honor the 9/11 victims, and this gave us a good chance to stand and remember that day, to think of all the people whose lives were lost or destroyed, to reflect on how our world has changed so profoundly because of what happened that Tuesday morning.

The card reads:
In memory of our 343 New York Colleagues
Who made the ultimate sacrifice 10 years ago.
The UK Firefighters Memorial Trust
11th Sept 2011

I had especially wanted to return to St. Paul's Cathedral since I'd watched a documentary called The Blitz: London's Longest Night a few years ago.  The film is a affecting mix of interviews with survivors of the Blitz, re-enactments of some events on the night of December 29, 1940, and even some footage of the fires that surrounded and threatened St. Paul's.  

As I stood at the Blitz and Firefighters Memorial, I thought of 9/11, and also I thought of the Blitz and those firemen and other Londoners whose stories I'd heard in the documentary.  There was one fireman in particular -- he had survived simply because another young firefighter had come to relieve him about one minute before a huge brick wall collapsed in flames right where the survivor had just been standing. The documentary took the time not just to listen to this man's story, but also to show him sitting quietly, still grieving and stunned by this vision of the wall falling down.

St. Paul's Cathedral
London, England
September 2011

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