The picture above is of the entrance to Liverpool’s (Wigwam) Catholic Cathedral: one of the most stunning interiors and spaces I think I have ever visited. The light and mood constantly changes as the day progresses, playing through the different colours of the stained glass and casting pools of ever changing light onto the floor. If you haven’t been it is well worth a visit.
I am sure we all have memories of our own favourite cathedrals or churches or even more natural sacred spaces… places which infuse us with peace and calm… and which rebalance our minds and spirits as we sit and absorb the beauty around us.
I was thinking about the effect of such spaces as I sat upstairs in Holy Trinity this past week with the wonderful sounds of piano and violin flowing over me during a concert of the Lammermuir Festival. So many of the artists and staff at the Festival have commented on the beautiful space which we have in the church. They praise the acoustics… the light… but more often than anything else they comment positively on the peace and ambience of the place. Many of these people are probably not church goers or engage in any form of active faith – but still they comment – they feel a connection and an uplifting of the soul whilst in our lovely church.
As I sat in Holy Trinity I mused over the music our walls must have heard over the centuries – classical, liturgical, hymns, children’s songs, Christmas Carols, as well as the more popular… the sound of which must have seeped into the very stones. Over the years countless prayers too have filled the place… prayers for the world, the people present and those living near and far. And the church has seen many activities and changes in its last 250 years – many different social gatherings filling the space with laughter and conversation and connection with each other. All of this surely cannot help but have a positive, reverberating effect on the space which we, in our turn, now enjoy and perhaps subconsciously absorb.
Holy space… life giving space, I think, is one where real listening and soul searching can take place. It is a space which is there, often for much of the time, empty… but which offers the deep quiet capacity to meet the inner needs of those who sit and immerse themselves in it. Sacred space is one in which a soul can rest…search and ultimately ask questions – the answers of which may remain out of reach – but there is great benefit in the questioning itself.
It is hoped that by the time you read this we will have opened Holy Trinity again during the day as a sacred space for all and for any who would like to venture in. And it shouldn’t be a surprise, I think, that the offer will be taken up far more than many realise. I know that you all appreciate the gift that our building provides – but ultimately what makes the difference is the presence of the divine which is always ready to touch the hearts of those who seek within its walls.