At the Cathedral we're very good friends with the altogether lovely people at Radio Coventry&Warwickshire - so it's always a pleasure when they phone up and ask if someone is free to talk. This time, they phoned me on Tuesday to ask if I'd do their Sunday Thought for the Day - and, reflecting as I was on the contrasts in Cathedral life this week, I was delighted to say "Yes". Only later did I realise that it might be a wee bit odd for a Christian priest to be speaking on Pentecost Sunday without mention of the Holy Spirit - but by then we'd agreed a topic and, as #2S suggested, I might well find myself using the whole 2 minutes trying to explain who the Spirit IS, before I could even start thinking about what I might want to say. So, Pentecost went unmarked - and I'm not really ashamed of that. Instead, here's what I offered...
It's been a bit of a week for the Cathedral – the OLD medieval Cathedral of S Michael that is- for it was its turn to take the lime-light, with two rather different special events.
On Tuesday evening we celebrated the disappearance of the scaffolding that has been in place continuously for the past few years. Of course, we weren't trying to rebuild – as a Coventry child said to her grandma “If they fix it, how will we remember?” Instead, the scaffolding helped us to preserve what remains.
The ruins are important, you see – an iconic symbol for the city, with an influence that stretches far and wide. They hold a special place in our affection, as a link with the past and a reminder of that remarkable decision made here 75 years ago, to choose peace and reconciliation rather than bitterness and revenge. I think it's really important that we didn't simply tidy up and build over the rubble...because those ruins speak of all the mistakes that we've made in our everyday lives, all the people we've hurt and the dreams we have shattered...but they represent future hope and fresh starts too, because of everything that flowed from the events of November 1940. When we held a service of blessing and thanksgiving there on Tuesday we recommitted ourselves to that agenda and all that goes with it...putting peace-making at the heart of our lives in the Cathedral and beyond.
On Thursday night things looked rather different, as Coventry University held a summer ball, transforming the medieval walls into a magical backdrop for students to dance the night away - a last hurrah before moving on from their time here to enter the world of work.
I love the thought that the ruins are a pivot point for such different experiences – not to mention providing welcome for the hundreds of people who just spend time there quietly sitting, eating lunch, meeting friends. Somehow the ruins speak of both past and future – and of a way of being that accepts past wounds without being tied down by them. If these walls could speak – I know they'd be worth listening to.