Here we are. The final stretch of 2011. Instead of focusing on anything negative, I’m thinking hard about what I want for the coming year and what goals I hope to accomplish. But I still have time to finalize that…
I’m thrilled I finally got the chance to visit Westminster Abbey, something I have been wanting to do for a while. It was rainy and cold and I almost turned back. I’m so so grateful I didn’t.
To put it simply, Westminster Abbey is breathtaking. I literally gasped when I entered and there were several moments when I found myself standing in complete awe, trying my best to take it all in, to fully commit it to memory. It far surpassed my expectations, the pictures I’d seen and even viewing it live on television as the Royal Wedding took place. Nothing prepared me for its majesty. It’s absolutely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
About five minutes after I entered, a vicar announced that every hour on the hour they stop to offer a short prayer. I grabbed a chair and sat in silence, happy I didn’t miss it.
I took my time strolling around, the audio tour (narrated by Jeremy Irons) guiding the way. I hadn’t known much about the history of the Abbey so I was completely shocked when I walked right into “Poet’s Corner.”
There was a statue of William Shakespeare that caught my attention first. Next, I was taken by the numerous plaques honoring several other notable poets and writers like Burns, Dickens, Marlowe and Wilde. The experience gave me chills—I am a literary geek at heart, after all. I stopped at Chaucer’s tomb and looked around at the history surrounding me, while fond memories of my favorite works came flooding in. It was something I will never forget. I noticed one particular inscription underneath the Bronte sisters’ names. It stated, “With Courage to Endure.”
What a poetic and perfect way to sum up my year.
The tour finished shortly afterwards and as I was about to leave, I noticed a small area of candles. I walked over to admire the sight of the lights flickering in the now darkened church. Just as I was about to turn away, I glanced down and saw a small ivory stock card.
“Westminster Abbey Prayer Request: Twice each day prayers are said in the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor. If you have a special request for prayer, please write it on the reverse of this card and place it in the box beneath. Your prayer will be offered in the Shrine Later.”
Without thinking, I flipped the card over and wrote the first thing that came to mind. For all my many thoughts each day, it really was quite easy to simplify it when I had to; it turns out eight short words can capture the essence of what I want most in life. I felt such peace when I dropped the note into the box filled with hundreds of others. It seemed like so much emotion was contained in one spot and I felt lucky to be a small part of it. I silently wished everyone else’s prayers would come true too.
It was a stunning and memorable experience, one I will never forget.
Thank you for letting me end 2011 on a positive note, one filled with peace, love and hope.