My Empty Nest

It's not always empty.

A Canterbury Tale

An inner pilgrimage, umbrella not required.

The drought of March -- that's what Chaucer called it. That's what's going on right now in England. Merry olde, soggy old England is in the middle of a drought. Even its robust production of Singing in the Rain is threatened by it. I should know. I'm in London and I just saw the musical last night, in seats just far enough back so as not to be drenched by the dancing in the title tune. If it doesn't rain soon, they may have to turn the water off.

Droughts. We've all been through them, and I'm not necessarily talking about the meteorological ones. Droughts of faith, droughts of inspiration, droughts of love and light. The arid patches or stretches of our lives that seem to go on forever.

My husband and I made a pilgrmage of sorts to Canterbury last Sunday. We wanted to see the cathedral. We've been watching a series of lectures by way of dvds on the history of cathedrals, mostly the ones found in France, but also some in England, and even a few in America. We decided we'd try to see a few in the flesh, or maybe I mean the stone.  Since it's almost April, Canterbury seemed like a good place to begin. Canterbury, death place of Thomas Becket. Canterbury, eponymous title of the famous Tales. We traveled by high speed train, also known as an iron horse, or maybe in this case a tensiled steel one. We've made many journeys together in our 26 years of tandem life. Still counting, still counting on more to come. Marriage is a long and winding road trip. Best not to think about the destination, best to just enjoy the ride.

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Our visit was uneventful, and I mean that in a good way. Trains arrived and departed on time. Weather was good, cool but not cold. The cathedral wasn't crowded. The actual cathedral wasn't exactly awe inspiring, but it wasn't a let down either. It led me at least to consider what exactly is awe inspiring in this ephemeral world of ours. Certainly anything built by human hands in the 12th century qualifies for some degree of awe. And yet I'm far more awestruck by the simple things we cannot see, qualities of thought - persistence, determination, faith, hope, love. I didn't say easy things. Everything I listed, including determination, takes determination to accomplish and maintain. Ah yes, that's the word that describes what inspires me most these days.
Maintaining. The step beyond attaining. The abililiy to keep on keeping on, preferably with a song in your heart. Possibly a song like "Singing in the Rain."

And yes I will in fact pray for rain, for the drought to end. Self defeating as a prayer like that can seem when one is a tourist.  But prayer really shouldn't be grounded in self interest, should it? Dear God, please make it rain, but not while I'm on vacation.    And while I'm praying I will also be grateful that the sun is shining and it's spring again. In the northern hemisphere at least, and in also my most persistent heart.

Madora Kibbe is a Christian Science practitioner and writer who lives in New York.

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