Old Donation Episcopal Church
As you learned from Paddington, we spent yesterday at Stonehenge, Salisbury, and at George Herbert's parish church in Bremerton. Today we were in Stratford-upon-Avon all day. As you might expect, we saw and learned a lot about William Shakespeare. Most of the group attended "Romeo and Juliet" at the fantastic theatre of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
We were joined briefly at the end of today by the Rev. William Howard, seen in the picture beside here. He was formerly the rector of St. Botolph's in Grimston and has been to ODEC in past years and kept up with us. Here are a few reflections from members of our pilgrimage.
Romeo and Juliet could be called The Story of Clueless Adults. Every time I see it I want to yell out to the nurse and the friar “No, don’t do that. It will only lead to a real tearjerker.” The excellent young actors, the perfect staging and direction let me truly know that I was at ground central for all Shakespeare lovers. And the story of Juliet and her Romeo always brings me to tears. It was a fine choice to end our time in the charming town of Stratford. The halftimbered houses seem natural here, not just being quaint. The swans on the River Avon remind us that they are really big fierce birds and don’t they all belong to the queen? For me this was the highlight of the trip. I’ll dream of this day when I reminisce about our time together.
This was my second visit to Salisbury Cathedral on a pilgrimage. In 2012 I was focused on whether I could succeed in climbing the tallest church spire in England! Salisbury captured my heart this time.
I remember the pillars as darker than other cathedrals, but this time I saw them as seasoned and appreciated the way that light comes in. I appreciated the fan vaulting throughout that spreads the weight of the massive ceiling.
Every hour on the hour prayer is broadcast over the speakers and everyone stops to participate or at least allow space for focused prayer. Altars around the Cathedral are dedicated to prayer for special needs such as healing of memories and prisoners of conscience, in addition to intentiond centered on specific saints. Another special feature at Salisbury is the Charter House where an original copy of the Magna Carta is on display.
On the tour of Salisbury Cathedral Friday, our guide wanted to show us the “dip stick”. He asked if anyone could bend down to pull up a small square piece of the flooring which had a stainless pull. Well, with my very long arms I don’t have to bend over very far to reach the floor. So I volunteered. I easily lifted the cover. He inserted a long pole and there was water at the bottom!
This Cathedral does not have a crypt, cellar or basement of any type. The water level is so high that at times it is only four feet below the floor. The Cathedral sits on wet gravel and if it was to ever dry out, then the walls would start collapse. When it gets too much rain, it can flood. So they have places they check for water like you check the oil in your car. ~ Jonna
Bremerton — George Herbert
Our final stop Friday was to visit George Herbert’s tiny church at Bremerton. He was an extraordinary rector in the way he cared for his congregation, a musician whose hymns can be found in our hymnals, and a poet who wrote about his relationship with God. The picture of him in the church’s stained glass window illustrates his poem “The Window.” The lovingly made altar cloth with its individual flowers illustrates his poem “The Flower” and attests to a man who continues to inspire even these present-day pilgrims. ~ Barbette Timperlake