Tuesday, July 8, 2008

To Canterbury We Wende

Whan that July, with his shoures crappy
The droghte of dust hath perced to the roote
And bathed every Jason in wanderlust,
Of which vertu engendred is the truste;
Whan Elizabeth eek with her sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge Ja-son
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne, (WTF?)
And smale foweles maken melodye, (birds)
That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen Jason and Liz to goon on pilgrimages
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende!

So this last weekend to get the hell out of London we took a pilgrimage (slow train ride) to Canterbury, home of Canterbury Cathedral, the shrine of Thomas a Beckett, England's best-known Martyr, and destination for pilgrims since medieval times, when Chaucer wrote his famous tales. We didn't tell stories on the way - we had our usual Sunday chat instead - and didn't see much of Canterbury apart from the high street and Cathedral, but I'm told there isn't a hell of a lot to Canterbury apart from those two things so I think we did alright. The Cathedral is probably my favorite in the UK aside from Durham, as it's an amazing Gothic construction, impossibly huge and beautiful in a way no other Cathedral is. Even with all the Cathedrals we've seen here and across Europe, there's something about Canterbury that's different. It's one of the few that feels warm on the inside, whether it's from the lighting or the choice of stone. It feel like what I've always believed God's house would be like. It's a strange, homely feeling at once historical and immediately present.

I admit that I'm biased to Canterbury based on my first experience there almost ten years ago, but returning this time with just a little time before it closed and the rain alternating between annoying sprinkle and outright downpour it still held its magic. There's very few things I can say that about, especially after so much time has passed. It was a strangely refreshing trip, even if it was just for a few hours. And just what we needed to get out of the city.

Flickr set here.

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