God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us…
We went to church at St. Paul’s Cathedral today. My first Anglican Eucharist, which I actually found lovely. I had some trouble finding the entrance, which sounds odd until you realize it is an enormous building with at least six different sets of doors, only one of which remains open. I accidentally visited the crypt on my search for the doors, and would have liked to investigate more but didn’t want to miss the service. I arrived just at the end of Mattins. At first I started looking for Delorey, but an official fellow in a fantastic black jacket with enormous tails, and wearing a red ribbon from which hung an enormous round medal with crossed swords on it, told me that there was “No looking for friends during the service,” and he politely pointed me towards the nearest seat. When Mattins ended he came up and told me, “Now is the time to look for your friend,” and commented that it was not the best place to meet somebody. I heartily agree, especially when that person actually wasn’t there at when they said. So I moved to a seat near the front directly off the aisle; moments later Delorey, Chris, and Mike appeared, and the service began not long after.
Turns out I picked a perfect seat, because as the choir processed in, they walked right by me singing, as did everybody else involved in the service. Then, later in the service, two of the assistant people (who later did Communion, and who were wearing the second-fanciest robes) plus two boys carrying enormous candle holders and one wandsman (?) all stood directly next to my seat – I could have touched the reader – for the scripture reading. And then during the time when everybody shakes hands, the woman leading the service, who they called the President, came and shook everybody’s hand on my side of the aisle. So I shook her hand and told her “Peace be with you.” I took Communion there, as well, because they said anybody who had been baptized could do so. It was very different, with real wine and wafers, and them saying “the body of Christ,” and “the blood of Christ” as you eat the dipped wafer. I really couldn’t sing any of the songs, but at the same time I didn’t want to: the choir and Delorey sounded so lovely, my hesitant, stumbling voice only marred the beauty. The President leading the service had an amazing voice as well; she reverberated for quite a while after her chanted lines. I loved the seriousness of the service, as well as the interesting, more theological message about the Trinity (upshot: it’s a faith thing). Unfortunately the dome section was closed off because they were taking scaffolding down, but still the church was lovely. It simply amazes me that we can come in and participate in a service at such a place.
Afterwards we went to Delorey’s for lunch, and Mike, Chris and I ate way too many chips before lunch because we were starving. Then lunch came. John Delorey makes wonderful, but absolutely enormous multi-course meals. Today I had homemade carrot and ginger soup (which had a bit of a bite!), a salad with homemade dressing and fresh hot bread, and some shell noodles with homemade red sauce. I really couldn’t enjoy the main Italian course because after the salad I thought I might explode. I also read the Sunday Times’ article about most overrated places to travel, which crackedm me up, and an article about artist Lucian Freud, grandson of the famous Freud. Eventually we bestirred ourselves to return, and arrived back at IES about 5:40. As we left several of the guys commented that “I never read my papers after I’ve written them,” which made me cringe. You cannot edit as you go; some things simply cannot get caught in the first go-round! That’s one of the greatest problems with WPI writers, though: they won’t go back and edit their work. There’s no sense of writing as a process, only the desire to finish the assignment as quickly as possible. I weep for the engineers of the future and any written work they produce.
When we got back I pontaneously walked next door to the fire department building and, after walking around it in puzzlement – there being no distinct front door – I found a fireman and asked what the tower (middle of the picture above) was for. Training, he told me; apparently they run ladders and such up there. With the Off License, that’s two British mysteries solved. Now, on to the pound coin and driving on the left side of the road…