After arriving in St Davids this morning, our group of four wandered down High Street to the market Cross and on to The Cross Hotel for lunch. And after lunch we drifted in the cool mist further down the hill to St Davids Cathedral. Looking down into the area enclosed by stone walls, we wondered about entry access for a transport chair.
[Note: Chair is the difference between a large old church building and a cathedral. The bishop's chair or seat is located in a Cathedral.]
As I pushed friend Karen Goodman in the transport chair down the asphalt road-ramp, we all stared in awe at the exterior majesty of the cathedral. The photo above is taken about half way down the ramp to the south entrance.
We rolled in the south door to the Nave and the mystery of this spiritual adventure resonated a deep peace in my soul. We then sat quietly soaking in the physical beauty and architecture of the interior.
I could imagine the sounds of the pipe organ or the voices of choirs. Peace. Community. History.
With more to experience, we moved about as a group walking with one friend riding in a transport chair. A beautiful biblical connection developed in my mind from Mark's gospel, 2nd chapter, the story of four friends searching for access to bring a paralyzed friend closer to Jesus.
Our rider is one of the most spiritual people I know, that is my friend Karen. And being connected in group with her and being conscious of the need to have walk-assist or transport chair access for her became the lens through which I viewed this cathedral.
I would not change anything about today. I was not leading. I was following the lead of the one riding. We adjusted our route to the north entrance via an outside ramp which yielded access for us to come closer to the Quire, to St David's Shrine, to the Holy Trinity Chapel, to Lady Chapel, and to art work displayed in the north and south chapel aisles.
While we toured the North Quire Aisle, a young man near us in the North Transept uncovered a piano and proceeded to play and sing as part of a presentation to middle-school aged students who were near St David's Shrine.
Serendipity is an understatement. The two Lauras- Laura Harris and Laura, Karen's sister, moved about us examining all the many treasures of this space. Karen sat in her transport chair no more than ten feet from the piano. It was as if the music had opened the final access point to entering the mystery of peace in this place.
We all reconvened and continued our self-guided tour. But in that moment, it became clear to me that an experience of pilgrimage, clarified with spiritual friendship and the need to find access, would become the theological context for the day and maybe of this adventure.
And the notion of a seat or chair that provides access to experience the divine among us... well, ... I am fortunate to be one that gets to push the transport chair of a dear friend who travels the same path.
Along the Way
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend