The story is that during the Civil War (the British one, not the American one) Cromwell sent a group of Royalist soldiers to be imprisoned in Coventry in 1648. The locals, who were Parliamentary supporters, refused to speak to or have anything to do with these Royalists. For more information on this expression see here.
John and his fellow OCMS students went on an outing to Coventry and I got to go along. I wasn't really sent to Coventry, though, as we had an enjoyable time with the group. Why Coventry?
Coventry is most famous for its two cathedrals, side by side. Coventry was a
John and I climbed up in the spire (for a small fee). It was quite the climb on a spiraled staircase that went straight up! Fortunately there was a railing -- one of my recurring nightmares has to do with falling down stairs or off ladders!-- so I'm ok if I can hang on. The view from the top was worth the climb. Here is a picture looking down into the bombed out cathedral.
As you can see, it was a rainy day (and very cold!) so we didn't linger in places like we would have had it been warm. But here are a few of the things we saw:
In two of these pictures it looks like the windows have glass in them, but it is really the glass windows in the new cathedral which is just beside the old one.
After the cathedral was bombed, somebody (I'm not sure who....) wrote on the wall "Father Forgive". There were two charred beams which were tied together to form a cross and Coventry Cathedral became a place of reconciliation. It is important to note that the words weren't "Father forgive them", but "Father Forgive". The decision to rebuild was made the morning after the bombing, not as an act of defiance, but as a sign of faith, trust, and hope for the future of the world. This statue depicts reconciliation and there is a similar statue in the Peace Garden in Hiroshima, Japan.
Each Friday at noon the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation is said in the ruins. It is so appropriate for Easter so I thought I'd share it:
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.
I'm so glad for Easter, for Christ's death on the cross, for His forgiveness of all my sins. This was a great reminder that all sins need to be forgiven not just horrendous ones like bombings. I am no better than a murderer or a bank robber or anybody else. I need to be forgiven just like those who commit atrocities need to be forgiven.