We have a guest blogger for today’s post! It’s Mom to me, Judy to Julie, and Juda to Lydie and Cassie.
After a thorough research of castles and gardens, I (Will’s mom) requested a visit to Coventry Cathedral. The original cathedral in Coventry was one of the most magnificent in England, but it was bombed by the Germans on November 14, 1940 during WWII. Immediately after the bombing, Coventry rejected feelings of revenge and bitterness and embraced a mission of peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness. On Christmas Day 1940, the leader of Coventry broadcast a statement of peace over BBC Radio, even as the war continue to rage, saying “we are trying, hard as it may be, to banish all thoughts of revenge…. We are going to try to make a kinder, simpler, more Christ-child-like sort of world in the days beyond this strife.” Today, the mission of Coventry continues, and it serves as an international peace center.
Much of the Hubbard experience in the UK has looked back in history. Coventry likewise has a historical dimensions, building from the ashes of WWII. But the cathedral also looks forward to a time of peace among the people of the world, and the modern architecture of the rebuilt cathedral reflects this view towards the present and the future. The burned-out skeleton of the original cathedral remains attached to the modern edifice and serves as a reminder of both the cost of conflict and the capacity of people to forgive.
We started our exploration of the cathedral outside, where Cassie, Lydie, and I helped St. Michael vanquish evil in the world.
Even on the gloomiest of England’s rainy days, light and hope shine through inside the cathedral.
Light also passes through the Great West Wall, which links the bombed-out old cathedral with the new. Etched on the glass are alternating rows of saints and angels.
The fourth row includes the patron saints of the British Isles, including St. George vanquishing the dragon at the far right and St. Patrick with a snake two saints to the left. Cassie and Lydie enjoyed feeling the ethereal etched images, while I walked in the courtyard between the old and new cathedrals and enjoyed looking through the glass at them from the outside.
In an attached chapel, Cassie found a collection of paper cranes folded by a twelve-year-old Japanese girl named Sudako, who was a victim of the Hiroshima bombing. Sudako tried to fold a thousand cranes for peace from her medicine wrappers. When she died before finished her task, other children completed her challenge — a powerful tradition that continues today.
For me, Coventry is a powerful place, and I enjoyed walking once again through the modern cathedral in silence.
Lydie and I also lit a candle for my sister Gwen and her husband Bob, who are both facing health challenges. To me, it was a bright candle of Hope.
The altar at the far end of the church includes a cross made from some of the medieval nails pulled from the burned wreckage of the original church, another symbol of peace emerging from conflict. Lydie and Cassie signed the log book on the way out. I was glad to see that they “got” the message of Coventry. I hope they keep it with them.
We ended by walking around the ruined original cathedral. Perhaps it was the bias of a mother/grandmother, but to me, it looked like the wonderful atmosphere rubbed off on the Hubbards. They all appeared to be glowing.
The framework of a massive stained glass window stands as reminder of the tenacity and resilience of the human spirit.
In 1987, we came to Coventry as a family when we were living in England for six months. Will was 11 and his brother Josh 13, but they still have strong memories of that visit. Returning thirty years later with his own family and his parents, Will is the father – and passes on to his children the idealism of Coventry.
I hope his daughters remember their trip and remember the mission of Coventry. I hope that they live to see a world where more people are “trying, hard as it may be, to banish all thoughts of revenge,” where more people follow the example of Coventry and strive “to make a kinder, simpler, more Christ-child-like sort of world in the days beyond this strife.”