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July 19, 2002

Subject: England Trip - Letter #10
Friday, July 19, 2002
Dear Friends,
This morning began after a very sound sleep which lasted 11 hours. I was exceptionally tired last night, having spent they day walking and standing. Last night I went to bed at 9pm and was asleep immediately. My alarm clock sounded at 8am to awaken me.
During breakfast this morning, the hotel manager came to me and said that I had a phone call holding. It was 3am in Denver and Christine wanted to say hello and tell me some good news. She had a great meeting with Rob (our rector (pastor)) and is finalizing her plans with him and will be starting a young singles group at St. Gabriels. It was great to hear her voice!
Since today is my last full day here, I decided to take in some more of the sites. The Underground is back in full service and that was a great relief. I spent most of the day at Westminster Abbey. It took only about a 10 minute walk to the Tube station and then a 10 minute ride to the Westminster tube station.
As I was walking out of the Underground, the magnificient chimes of Big Bend chimed. It was 11:45am. It is amazing what they can do with digital audio and lots of audio power these days. (Just kidding.) It was another 10 minute walk past Parlimant and St. Margaret's Church to the Abbey. Westminster Abbey is certainly a unique place. This time I took no talking taped guide machine along nor did I hire one of the tourguides. I took my little guidebook and read and read and then read the gravemarkers and placards. As always I felt in awe as I stand over the grave of George F. Handel (loving uncle, bachelor, former organist at Westminster and prolific composer). I did notice a discrepancy in the dates of his birth. On the stone in the floor it was carved as 23 February 1684. The placard place near it stated the dates of his life to be 1685-1759. I will initially trust the etched stone in the floor, but now I will have to check to be certain.
Nearby were the remains of more famous English persons that one could recall - thousands of them. I studied the quire (choir loft in American) and noted that it must be important because they have lamps (candles or lights) at virtually every seat. Each chorister has a music stand on which to place their order of service, music, prayerbook and hymnal. The main organ at Westminster is above the screen and divided onto the two sides. It looks quite large. I have heard it in the past as well as on recordings. It to has that unique English cathedral sound.
There was the coronation chair in the back where the English monarchs have been crowned since around 1200 AD. I did note one change that was dramatic. The large stone that had been under the chair for centuries was missing. Many centuries ago, this stone was taken in a war against Scotland. The crowning of English monarchs, who were sitting over the stone, was a great symbol of dominance by England over the Scots. There was a note that stated that this stone was returned to Scotland in 1996. Certainly that is amazing. Each tour in the past had made such a big deal over this stone and its symbolism.
II stopped in the nave and light a candle and prayed for someone close to me who has a big decision coming up next week that will have a long term effect on her life.
I then attended the service of worship - the celebration of the Eucharist. It was a familiar service in many ways. There was no music, but much of it is like our Rite 1 service. They clearly like the old English texts and prayers. I did note that they said "forgive us our sin" where we say "sinS". I wonder if that is a theological distinction.
Following the dismissal I strolled into the bookstore and gift shop, looking for things that I did not know that I needed. What I immediately noticed is that their AC was off! That meant a very brief time shopping for me.
Next I thought it would be fun to revisit the Tower of London. I took the tube over and walked around on the outside, but did not fight the crowd to go inside this time. It is very large and the walls around it seem towering when you look down into the large separate area that isolates the inner area from the walls at the outer edge. The tower is were there were numerous beheadings of well known English men and women. It is rumored there that you were to tip the executioner well to make certain that he beheads you completely on the first attempt. We will move on....
The next trip was on the tube to Victoria station and then out to walk around that part of London for a while. I found a little sandwich shop and purchased a prawn and crab sandwich which was just outstanding! It was accompanied by a room temperature coke out of a can, since they don't sell glasses of ice there. This part of the English tradition will not be missed by me when I return. /dt>
II then boarded bus number 52 which took me back to the Kensington Park area where my hotel and this fine internet establishment is located. I will leave here for my nightly trip to Safeway for a bag of ice and a bottle of fresh squeezed orange juice.
Thanks for all your notes and stories that you have sent me over these past two weeks. I have made my arrangements for my cab pickup for 6am tomorrow for the ride to Heathrow. Unless something dramatic breaks, I will send you one more letter once I am safely back home tomorrow night. For those of you at St. Gabriels, I will be at the organ on Sunday morning.
I hope you have had some enjoyment out of my daily epistles. The experiences and the musical composition as well as the nice persons at the Wesely Chapel will be long remembered. I will finish off the composition work when I return and send them copes of the works. I can hardly believe that I made this trip much less wrote about it daily. I also give thanks for each one of you that have been receiving these notes.
One final thing that hit me was in seeing so many graves over here -- Charles Wesley, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Handel, John Wesley, Susanna Wesley, Isaac Watts, Daniel DeFoe and many others. Each of us is eternal. We live only part of it as a mortal. These fancy tombs in Westminster were probably for the wealthy and the prestigious persons. The ones that are more simple were for those who were infamous or not afforded the promotion of the state. There are many more whose tombstones were engraved with named that were unknown to me. Yet even more whose markings had been washed away by the rain and wear and tear of centuries. J. S. Bach wrote a beautiful organ chorale prelude based on the German hymn, Hark! A voice sayith all are mortal". This expresses in music this great truth. Each of these individuals was born and lived a life that was significant to someone. They had close friends and people who did not regard them as friends. Each one of them died. That part we all have in common. I hope that we all are making the choices in our mortal life that will offer God praise and love and service to our fellow humankind. We see so much turmoil in the world, I hope that each of us will make every effort to bring love and peace to those around us.
May the Lord bless you and keep youbr> May the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and give you peace.

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