Cantebury Cathedral - Shrine location of St. Thomas à Beckett
This is probably my favorite photo of my entire trip. There is nothing particularly spectacular or great about it - but for me it's the memory of that moment. Let me try and explain.
I wish it was easy to explain why I feel a sense of peace and serenity in cathedrals that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with history. It is just happenstance that cathedrals are old and have so much history in the very stones themselves. It's like the millions of human lives that have revolved around them have somehow dispersed their energy into the very bedrock that they sit on and I feel somehow that I can tap into it. I don't mean in any supernatural way. I just mean that I can really grasp the sense of history and it gives me this elevated sense of being --- I cannot express how much this feeling is intensified in even older places. Stonehenge and Avebury and the Barrow Downs (as I like to call them ;) ) was so beyond anything I can't even invent a superlative to put proper tone to it.
It was a Sunday when we went to see Canterbury and it was between services when the cathedral opens for visitors. But being February it was quite empty (not a soul in the photo ;) ) but the whole cathedral was permeated with the smell of incense. I've been to loads of cathedrals in my day and I have attended at least half a dozen masses. None of them used incense that I could recall. Something was quite special about that beautiful smell in that most hallowed of England's cathedrals.
This place in the photo has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. The shrine has been removed - but this is the location. When you look at the stones on the floor, they have been molded and bent by the millions of visitors to the shrine. It's spectacular.
I think I would have loved to have caught a glimpse of this place in it's prime - when it was a place of pilgrimage and it was swarming with humanity (smells and all). So much of these places now seem a bit sterile in comparison to how they used to be. I'm grateful for my good imagination.