Monday, October 18, 2010

Tombstones and Sermons

There is a church building across the street from our flat (you may recognize it from a picture I posted earlier, which I am posting again here).  The church has small gargoyles outside and a tall steeple.  It was the first place in Cambridge that I explored and I really fell in love with it.  I have been back multiple times since.  It is dusty, gloomy and falling apart.  But it is also quiet and still and old, which I think is a virtue!  There is something tenderly nostalgic about being in a place that has witnessed the crossing of so many generations of people.


This window is a beautiful tribute to women. 
This box is a memorial to those boys in the parish who died during World War 1.  Their names are written on both sides of the Crucifix.  I almost cried the first time I saw it.  This would have been only one congregation of many in Cambridge but there are so many names here!  The wars hit Europe so much harder than we realize in America...



There are tomb memorials on the walls, some of which date back into the 1600s.  There was one particular message that struck me.  I wrote it down there while I was pondering.  It was found on the monument for James and Martha Gifford, who died in 1774 and 1769.  James had been the mayor of Cambridge in 1757.  The epitaph said that James had been "indefatigable in his beliefs" and said finally of both James and Martha: "This monument was erected in their memory by their children, who deeply feeling the irreparable loss of such parents, found their chief consolation in the hopes of rejoining them in a blessed immortality."  I was struck by the simple and profound beauty of such an expressed hope and look forward myself to the great day of reunion in which families the whole world over, spanning millenia of the earth's history, will be rejoined through the power of the atonement.  What an inconceivably joyous day that will be!  

Today we had stake conference in Ipswich (see the map link to the right).  The session didn't start until two, so Courtney and I decided to attend the Presbyterian service that met in the church at 10:30.  It was a lovely experience actually, but the thing that most touched me was the precious little boy sitting two rows in front of us.  He must have been between 4 and 6 years old.  He had blond hair and was kneeling on the bench facing back for most of the sermon.  There was a small smile on his face the entire time - not a mischievous smile like one might expect on a little boy's face, but a smile of perfect content and happiness.  He rocked back and forth from one knee to the other and looked over our heads at the back wall - maybe at something that delighted him, maybe at nothing in particular.  At times he would lean his head gently on his mom's shoulder, at other times he would bury his little face in his dad's shoulder (he was between both parents).  I felt, keenly, all his angelic innocence and the precious nature of his little spirit.  He helped me remember the tender relationship Heavenly Father has with all of His children, wherever they are.  It was a beautiful few minutes.    

2 comments:

Ashley said...

Amy!! When I was in London, one of my favorite things to do was find all the small little churches. I love how you captured the amazing beauty that they have. It's touching the spirit we feel when in a place built by believers in Christ, even so many centuries ago. I love it!

Paulita said...

i loved reading this post, amy. when we lived in germany, visiting the villages churches was also one of my favorites. the heart-rending reading of the list of those lost in the wars is just as poignant when they fought on the other side . . .

Post a Comment