How we choose to fight our personal battles can have far-reaching effects.
When my husband planned our recent European adventure, he jokingly said our goal was to visit a castle, a church and a museum every day.
We certainly saw a lot of them, including a great variety of churches, from the super-huge to the really tiny. We visited St Giles Cathedral, Queen Mary’s Chapel and a Salvation Army church in Edinburgh and a famous chapel in Rosslyn. In England we attended a Salvation Army service in a Methodist church in Newcastle and St Paul’s Cathedral in London for Evensong. We saw York Minster Cathedral, Coventry Cathedral and two small church graveyards that hold the resting places of British authors C. S. Lewis and Roald Dahl.
While each church or cathedral had its different characteristics, there were also many similarities. I loved observing their special areas and distinct points of decoration, looking with interest for symbols and items that glorified God.
Of all the churches we saw, the one that brought me to tears was Coventry Cathedral in the West Midlands. As we approached it, I remember the sight of it taking my breath away. I stood looking at the contrast between the bombed-out remains of one structure standing in the shadow of the new cathedral built next to it. After the bombing and fire that destroyed the original church during World War II, the townspeople decided not rebuild it, but to leave it instead as a memorial for peace and reconciliation. It seemed better, somehow, than building a new structure and eliminating what was, erasing the pain of what was lost.
For me, Coventry cathedral stands as a stark reminder of what happens when evil reigns. When one party decides they are right and their enemy is wrong, then they justify the destruction of lives, homes, businesses and places of worship. So much harm has been done over the centuries in the belief that these types of actions are necessary, but what is actually necessary is more forgiveness. More “I’m sorry”. More grace. More compassion. More tolerance. More love. Much, much more.
While none of us can have much impact on the course of world history and conflict, we have plenty of choice with regard to our own personal wars. We have the choice to destroy or to reconcile. We can offer forgiveness.
On the wall of the new Cathedral in Coventry is a striking sculpture depicting St Michael standing over a bound and defeated Lucifer. I love this imagery of good being victorious.
The way the people of Coventry chose to respond to what happened to them on that devastating night on 14 November 1940 meant that they were not overcome by it. I pray with God’s help that this is so for my life, and I pray it is so for yours, too.
Belinda Davis serves as a Salvation Army officer (minister) in regional Victoria. Her blog is at www.ablessedlife2017.wordpress.com