Like many of my fellow Antipodeans, I have journeyed the world and marvelled at its wonders, from the Pyramids of Giza to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and most everything in between and beyond. At places as diverse as Oxford, New Delhi ,Paris, Florence or far Kathmandu, I have feasted my senses on the glorious club sandwich like monuments and ruins created by layer upon layer of history. Emperors, fire, wars, kings, queens,revolutionaries; they, and many more, have all played their part in the sights and scenes we love to absorb in to our very souls.
Yet, it was only yesterday, in a church yard, that I had an inkling of what it was like to be the mashed egg or the sliced salami in the sandwich. In other, more sensible, words, what it is like to be the present moment in the history of events. Today, we can stand in awe at, say, Coventry Cathedral, but how did the people feel about its brokenness when first it was bombed? Horrified, angry, shocked, despairing and, perhaps, slightly hopeful of a future. Did they imagine people would come from all over the world to see the cathedral in its new manifestation? Did they realise that the essence of their experiences would be enfolded into a creation that spans not only their experiences but those of multiple generations? Could they sense a future building, made all the more beautiful by its layering foundation of tragedy.
I glimpsed all those puzzlements, and more, as I stood on the rough, stony ground that once supported St Luke’s in the City.The surroundings were sad, lonely and mostly broken to bits; the solitary bell tower excepted from the broken category. Then I spied a poppy,and some more poppies;
a new incarnation of the canvas labyrinth previously housed within the now vanished St Luke’s. This one is made from materials recovered from the earthquake devastated Church. As with the originally commissioned labyrinth, it is a replica of the 13th Century labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral.
So there it is, in its raw, stark simplicity; a half kilometre pathway, encapsulating a church community’s essence and its experiences. It stretches way back to 13th century France, and then onward and inward and outward to the current Christchurch community, as an offering for its healing and peace. It is a foundation for whatever may come next.
How did I feel at the threshold of the Labyrinth? Hopeful, connected, a small part in a larger picture (or a bigger sandwich). Still a little forlorn, but not quite alone anymore. And, what was that I heard faintly in the silence; bells ringing, songs singing, people smiling and loving and admiring whatever combination of old and new that has arisen. How delicious!
Question? Does seeing history in terms of club sandwiches, make me one sandwich short of a picnic? 😀