It was a warm afternoon. The town square was busy on what looked like a Latvian bank holiday. An impromptu stage was set for a choir of children, getting ready to sing. Dominating the square is a red bricked cathedral. We went inside to catch a rumour of the holy.
It’s Lutheran decoration was plain, and the air was cool in its cavernous space. For all it had been busy outside, in here there were only a few people scattered, wandering the aisle or sat on the long wooden pews.
I walked down the centre aisle, slow and deliberate steps, to the beat of the old prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Unseen, on either side of the empty pews I sensed the saints gathered, watching this small pilgrimage. Ahead of me waiting in the chancel I sensed Jesus.
It wasn’t until I was upon it that I noticed the rope spread out at the foot of the chancel keeping the whole area in quarantine from pilgrim feet. I walked back along the ﬂagstones and at the back of the church lit two candles: One for my children and one for myself and the prayer that had fallen short.
We noticed a door that led outside and walked through into the quadrangle that surrounds the alfresco heart of the cathedral. In the centre of the quad long dry grass and weeds were growing together. Some steps led down onto its parched ground. We sat on them, and added our presence to the loitering silence.
Behind us a woman and small boy appeared walking along the open air corridor of the quadrangle. They were holding hands. As they approached the door leading back into the cathedral, the boy did something, unremarkable in itself, a little gesture, but it rippled the quiet with reverence. He removed his cap form his head.
A sacrament of intention
At that same moment we heard them. Adrift like pollen all around us ws the music of voices, childrens voices. It was the choir outside, they had begun to sing.
From wherever it is that memories find us I remembered the last time I heard children’s voices carry across the distance. I was standing by the graveside of a girl no older than Jairus’ daughter. That day we were found by the playground hullabaloo of a primary school just half amile away. The childrens voices gently lilting over us as we commended a little girl to God’s safe keeping.
I hadn’t paid it much attention at the time, but here and now, I recognised that same sound and knew how that days blessed cacophony was a sacrament of God’s intention: the sound of children playing at a childs graveside – a crack in the darkness where the light creaks in with this truth:
One day everything will be ALRIGHT.
Evil will disappear in the coming Of God’s alright. Death will die of supernatural causes and no one will mourn its passing. It’s sway over us will end and in ending seem such a trivial thing compared with God’s mending. Our innocence is remade in the alright as we are unwounded.
Like a mother’s arms cuddles a nightmare out of us in the bedroom darkness. It’s going to be alright.
Like a skint knee is dabbed by cotton wool and dirt drawn from it. It’s going to be alright.
Like a hand is held after diagnosis and against its grain we say: it’s going to be alright.
I had caught an echo of St Julian of Norwich:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.Julian of Norwhich, Revelations of Divine Love
We left the cathedral and wove our way through the squares saturday revellers, not wanting to squander what we’d been heard on words. We found an old tavern with stairs Leading steeply down to a basement. Inside was dark and cool and we sat in candle light listening as a girl played music on a chord zither. We sipped black beer L i s t e n I n g; past the delicate zither to what we’d just heard outside: the world rippling with God’s goodness. The coming of God’s alright.
And that’s the world this song comes from…