Saturday, July 19, 2014

45 Days in London: Day 26

Orrest Head, Windermere

This morning, despite advance booking, we were unable to get into HillTop (Beatrix Potter's Farm) as planned, so we shifted gears, and walked to one of the best viewpoints in the Lake District, called Orrest Head. For some reason we chose the steeper, rockier of the two trails (I'm sure there's a metaphor there), but it was pleasant, regardless. Light intermittent rain, perfect temperature. And the views were incredible.
Partway up we saw the classic Lake District walled pastures with sheep. But the real payoff was at the top—a 360-degree vista over lakes, fields, and farmhouses. Our gift from the heavens was this beautiful cloudy mist sheeting out of the sky, only visible at the top, creating a perfect watercolor backdrop for our journey.

After our hike, we spent an hour in the town of Windermere, eating, shopping and just enjoying the quaint village. Then we boarded our bus and headed south.

Coventry Cathedral

When I heard we were going to Coventry, I fully expected to be wowed by another big gothic cathedral. Instead we were greeted by quite a different site. Coventry Cathedral was bombed by Hitler during World War II—not for any strategic purpose, but in sheer retaliation after the church in Dresden was destroyed by the allies.  that remains of Coventry Cathedral is the outer shell.  Rather than rebuild it after the war, the Coventry community chose to leave it that way as a reminder of the ravages of war. They later built a brand new cathedral next door.

 But the interesting and most inspiring part of the whole story is this: The people in Coventry who lost their place of worship chose to take Jesus's commandment "love thine enemies" literally. Once the war had ended, villagers found huge medieval nails in the rubble, and with three of them formed a large cross and sent it to their former enemies in Dresden as an act of friendship and forgiveness. They made a similar cross of nails that is now mounted in the altar of the apse at Coventry. Inscribed there it says "Father, Forgive." Later they have sent similar crosses to other places who had their churches and cathedrals destroyed, and formed a small society called The Community of the Cross.

There is a plaque near the entrance unveiled by Queen Elizabeth in 1990 that says, "For nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:4) So what could potentially be a disturbing sight has now become a place of peace, forgiveness, and hope. 

Our Home away from Home

When we pulled into South Kensington that evening and unloaded our bags in our flat, it was amazing to realize how much this little apartment has come to feel like home. As sad as we were to leave the Lake District, it also felt good to be in our own familiar space.

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