So, I’m back in Cambridge, England to do more work on my faith/science book that focuses on the physicist/priest John Polkinghorne. On every street there is a cathedral announcing a Christmas concert — choirs, bells, orchestras — and it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit. I wandered into a few cathedrals today and heard organists practicing. It was furious, loud and beautiful.
It’s chilly outside here — maybe about 40 degrees — and rainy. But the streets are full of shoppers and nervous families. Students are being interviewed by professors to see if they’re the kind of people Cambridge University wants to admit to one of its colleges next fall. At lunch yesterday I overheard some professors discussing the many students they were going to turn down. The students will have to be chosen by another school in another town.
Still, it’s unmistakably Christmas in Cambridge. And nothing says Christmas like a group of American Indians playing Silent Night on their wind instruments and doing an interpretive dance in the cathedral of the street.
And I was nearly chased down another street for not paying my tithe to the robot after listening to him sing in an outer space voice about Santa Claus.
The one quiet place I found was the Westcott Chapel, where Polkinghorne said the daily office and prayed during his seminary training back in the 1980s. It’s a simple chapel — wooden floor, just a few benches, little ornamentation, definitely not a cathedral. But on the front wall, illuminated by a single candle, was the icon commissioned by Polkinghorne and his class of theology students. It is a picture of Christ, and the words of Jesus taken from John’s gospel — “You have not chosen me. I have chosen you.”
That’s worth celebrating, whatever costume you’re wearing, and regardless of what the professors say.
4 thoughts on “Inside the Cathedrals in Cambridge, It’s Bach and Handel; Outside it’s Indians and Robots”
Totally jealous of your Advent & Christmas stay in Cambridge. Enjoy those cathedrals for me! How I would love to pray the Daily Office in one of them! Aaah, well, a living room in Alpine with Fr. Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity did well enough this morning. 🙂
(It’s in the low-40s here in Pine Valley, too. We’re spending our last day of homeschooling until January huddled up to the fire in our wood stove, reading American History and practicing our German.)
A blessed Advent to you!
Susie — you lead a very interesting life. I trust that you’re paying attention to all of it. I really admire how you’re doing it. I hope you get a sense of the Holy this season!
How cool to be in Cambridge with the Indians and robots! But you missed Jordan and Riley hamming it up on stage for Jesus today! And Dorothy Adey was MARY!! I asked David if it was humbling having the Mother of God in the house…
Glad you escaped the crazies and found your quiet place to pray. Nice.
Happy Christmas Prof!
I wonder how that Christmas program would have played in a Cambridge Cathedral? I’ll ponder it. And I hope you and your tribe have a great Christmas as well!
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