(Favourite photographs of my stay here)
Now returned from my retreat in Salisbury, I reflect on my time there.
I certainly miss the surrounding peacefulness, the rhythmic regularity of structured prayers, of choral heavenly voices and time to read, contemplate and meditate. But there is thankfully space for at least a bit of that here in Bramhall!
Would I return to Salisbury? Well, I would gladly say yes, if it were not for the time I spent in the Cathedral outside of services. It was very distressing for me to see barriers, turnstiles, security guards, and several people only a few years older than me told to leave because they wouldn’t pay the “voluntary” donation. And when I got inside I wanted to go somewhere quiet to pray, and found the chapel of St Michael with a sign that said that it was reserved for prayer and to please be treated with respect. So in I went, only to find that most people came in anyway whilst I was there bowed in prayer, some even taking photographs of me like I was a tourist attraction, and several young teens coming in with food and laughing about, mocking even, Christianity.
Sarum College was amazing, and the services in the Cathedral were glorious. Whilst the tourist inappropriateness is not the fault of the Church, their forcefulness in “pay to pray” was unbelievable.
I’d gladly return to Sarum College, but I can’t pretend that I’m ok with the very unChristian attitude of the big church at the centre of the peaceful location.
Will I return to Salisbury? I hope so. I loved it there. But please God the Church pulls itself together and remembers who she is. I’ve been told by many that the Church faces a dilemna. She needs money to keep herself up and running. Well, I don’t think that should be our primary concern. The real dilemna we are facing is in fact, do we forget what the Church is actually meant to be and turn it into a tourist site that only opens the doors to those with money, or do we realise that the beauty in the loving Church will live on if we show people what she truly is, and spend less money on golden chalices and unnecessary heating (wear a jumper!), and give to the starving in countries that wish, pray, we’d pull ourselves together.
Will we answer their prayers? Or will we close our doors and ask, “pay to pray?” What would Jesus do? Hmmm?