The Christmas morning service was scheduled for 10:30 AM followed by the Bell Ringing. I arrived at the Abbey early to ensure seating. The flow of celebrants reflected multiple nationalities and covered the full spectrum of age groups from toddlers to the elderly. All appeared filled with Christmas cheer and smiling faces. A cherub-faced usher handed me a program and escorted me to my seat.
A middle-aged couple with two preteens filled the seats next to me and introduced themselves. They were from Belgium and attended the services yearly claiming that London was very close. Shamefaced I realized I didn’t know where Belgium was located or where London was in relationship to other European nations.
I shared my inspiration to hear the Bells and felt their supportive understanding. Once again the emotion of inclusion embraced me and reminded me I was connected to a larger group. The Abbey satisfied its alternate title -“Parish of the World”.
The service was Anglican and very similar to the Catholic mass I was raised in. It felt familiar, yet contained elements I wished for in the Catholic practice. There were female priests and attendants. English was spoken. The sacraments were up close and personal. The pageantry was celebratory and richly presented.
Again, remembering my earlier trip to England, I had attended an Anglican church with another student for several weeks before I realized it wasn’t Catholic. I even confessed my error believing I had sinned by missing Sunday services. Fortunately, the priest I confessed to assured me I had not sinned since my intention was present. Afterward, I found myself excusing my presence from mass offering my intention from my bedroom. That was my first introduction to meditation.
The choir was uplifting and charismatic. It filled the space with an unanticipated magical resonance.
There was an inclusive non-punitive quality to the sermon I had not experienced in the Catholic rituals.
The emotional energy of joy mirrored that of the birth rooms I attend as a trained nurse midwife. This awareness produced a smile on my lips. The Christmas service was a celebration of Christ’s birth after all. The ritual drew all the connecting vibrations to heal mankind, as it should.
The sound proof quality of the Abbey’s walls became evident as I exited and was greeted by the urgent pealing of the bells. The sounds wrapped around me and lifted my spirit. I inhaled deeply eager to absorb every vibration into my pores. This was the moment I had been waiting for and I allowed my imagination to flow.
The ringing had no agenda other than to link humanity in awareness of the moment. It didn’t discriminate or profile its audience by sex, race, age or monetary worth. All were included in its offering. In my mind’s eye, I could see the expression on its recipients’ faces – a look of hope, of belonging to something greater than the self.
Returning to the present, I observed my fellow listeners outside. They were sprinkled like cookie crumbs beside the Abbey and across the street. I enjoyed watching the walkers moving briskly then suddenly slowing down to listen caught in the bells’ spell.
A young man with floppy hair approached me and asked what I was doing. I pointed to the bell towers and explained about the Christmas Bells. He told me he’d lived in London for several years and had never listened to the Bells. He thanked me for sharing my story and moved on.
It was time to return to my hotel for Christmas Dinner. I was delighted to have my favorite Yorkshire Pudding with Roast Beef and green beans.
When the meal was complete the poppers were pulled sending streamers to nearby tables. Some of my streamers landed at the adjacent table where two young women were seated. They immediately retaliated with giggles and a burst of confetti from their own Poppers.
The women asked if I was American and introduced themselves as also from the States. Soon we were deep in conversation. They invited me to join them on an evening walk about of the London sights.
The night lighting and presence of memorial structures like Parliament and Big Ben created a timeless setting which the women filled with details. I was treated to a tour of Harry Potter sights and entrance to all the open lodgings offering Holiday parties. The Royal Horse Guard’s housing was spectacularly decorated. Its elderly residents welcomed us to chat by the live fires without qualification.
The women were anxious to cross the Thames and ride the Eye. I was ignorant of much of the changes in London’s scenery. When we walked on the bridge across the Thames, I thought it was London Bridge and was shocked to learn London Bridge had been dismantled and purchased by an American. The Eye looking like a giant Ferris Wheel was closed, as were all the sites along the Thames.
We focused on the sculptures and again the women introduced me to the art of bringing solid monuments alive and personal.
by Alexander 1980.
Mankind is capable of an awareness that is outside the range of everyday life. My monumental sculptures are created to communicate with that awareness in a way similar to classical music. Just as most symphonies are not intended to be descriptive, so these works do not represent figures or objects.
December 25, 2007 London
Midwife Dianne births new friend through the Jubilee Oracle sculpture.
The great EYE is waiting in the background to continue its circular voyage. Big Ben chimes the hour across the Thames River.