The bells from Westminster Abbey summoned me with their promise of Christmas Magic. I was exploring sound vibrations as a healing tool and revisited earlier studies of tones to balance the body. An Internet search produced links to songs, instruments and ancient methods of inspiring wellbeing through toning. The sound of a bell was frequently cited as the purest healing form.
Inspired I hunted for this sound to experience for myself its ability to stimulate. Tinkling, ringing, dinging, jingling vibrations emitted from my speakers. The emotions they produced were not unpleasant but did not feel therapeutic.
Then I clicked on – chiming. My being was filled with the sound of Westminster Abbey’s bells and I was enthralled. The vibrations reach out and connected me to humanity. It embraced my being with a deep knowledge of belonging and bliss.
As I read about the bells, I learned they have been ringing from the Abbey for almost a thousand years announcing events and binding the community. One event was consistent in its yearly celebration – Christmas Day. I wondered how it would feel to stand in the Abbey surrounded by the sound of the bells. Would I be transported through time to experience the vibrations of the past?
My life was filled with a purpose – to hear the Bells of Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day. I have been told that the preparation for a quest is as transformative as the actual journey. Certainly mine exposed me to multiple decisions and required choices of the heart as well as awareness of my own fears. Where would I stay, how would I get to the Abbey, what would I wear?
Finally my journey was set. My reservations made. I choose to fly first class through the night to arrive in London on the day before Christmas. A hotel for two nights within walking distance of Westminster Abbey and a reserved place at the hotel’s traditional English Christmas meal completed my preparations.
Some believe the journey is more important than the goal. I disagree. It is not an either/or situation but an and/both event much like a musical counterpoint. I followed the melodies presented to me with each step and was filled with magic.
I savored the attention and ease of first class flight. Beginning with my wait in the comfort of the First Class lounge with luxurious seating; continual supply of food and drink; lavish restrooms with real cloth towels and a consigner to remind me of my departure time.
I felt the thrill of boarding first and the personalized attention to my seating. Legroom for my 5’8” frame and being offered three course choices for dinner completed the introduction steps of my journey. I knew the increased fare had purchased this treatment and chose to appreciate and savor every moment of this gift to myself.
The sensation of flying always inspired a quickening of my heart. My favorite part is the take off with that little thump of exhilaration as the wheels leave the tarmac and the plane ascends on pure air.
I am seated next to the Pilot’s wife. We chat as if this is a common voyage and perhaps it is for her. I notice the other first class passengers also vibrate a relaxed ease and appreciate the inclusion into the group. We arrive at Heathrow Airport.
My memories of a youthful sojourn to England burst unbidden as I recalled my attendance at Porlock Vale Riding Academy to attain a Horse Master’s certificate. My three months of training were filled with indescribable adventures and an introduction to a different way of being. My instruction was intense and packed with praise that didn’t prepare me for the failure notice from the British Examiner at the end. Now I was back having been inoculated with the pain of failure and had created a fearless life of successes.
A modern train ride followed by an English style black cab brought me to the entrance of my hotel. It had a cozy old fashion ambiance with all the amenities of a larger establishment.
Navigating to my room reminded me of passing through a rabbit warren turning left and right up two stairs and down three. There were no straight shot halls or elevators from the ground floor. On the outside it was clear that several buildings had been joined together to assure equal accesses to the windows. Safety was assured since a stranger could not predict a guest room’s placement by its number. Room 206 could be across the hall and one step down from 307.
Hungry. I was enticed to the hotel bar for a small meal with tea. My waitperson noticed I was undecided on the type of tea and suggested Blueberry Tea, which I had never experienced. Its base is a brandy glass 1/3 full of steaming black tea to which a slice of orange is added and stirred. Another third of the glass is filled with Grand Marnier Liquor. My waitperson encouraged me to inhale the aroma first then slip slowly to allow the warm liquid to perform its magic.
It was time to introduce myself to Westminster Abbey. I spied her towers a few block away but felt her presence as soon as I stepped from the hotel lobby. The doorman reminded me of the change in traffic flow and to look RIGHT before crossing. This small change in pattern added to the exotic feeling surrounding me. As I approached the structure I had an overwhelming desire to bow. A deep reverence for its symbolism and strength of character reminded me of the bond between nature and man.
I walked around the Abbey noting its brickwork and garden gates guarding the interior. Finally, I completed the circle and was back at the main entrance with its worn brick walkway leading to the arched entry reminding me of hands folded in prayer.
Nothing had prepared me for the actual experience of stepping into the Abbey. It felt like entering a sacred shrine constructed to provide sanctuary. The smell of candle wax and incense floated in the air among the wooden pews and prayer stalls. The stone walls lit by stain glass windows created a mood of protection. Here was a safe place to connect with one’s soul.
My feet moved slowly along the aisles stopping occasionally to read the placards covering the walls commemorating people for their achievements. Several elaborately carved casket filled grottos along the way and alerted me to the possibility that the Abbey was also a burial chamber or crypt for generations of notables through the ages. I recognized several novelists like Jane Austin and poets as well as musicians and politicians held in memory.
When I glanced down at my feet I became aware of another surface dedicated to memorializing people of the past. The first inscription I read on the floor was to a plumber at the Abbey in the 1700’s. More names, dates, and achievements spread about me. Some had the inscription “Here lies…” reminding me that there may be bones beneath my feet.
I returned to my hotel filled with anticipation of the morning much like a child expecting St Nick.