A glimpse of hope
by Bathsheba Wells Dion, our intern based at Coventry Cathedral.
This week we are moving our focus from Rose Castle to Coventry Cathedral, a stark contrast from the rolling green countryside to a concrete, industrial city. What they have in common though, is their history full of conflict.
This particular story begins on November 14th, 1940. The infamous Moonlight Sonata operation - an ironically beautiful name for one of the worst nights of the Blitz that England experienced. Despite the best efforts of a few brave individuals literally kicking away incendiary bombs from the roof of the Cathedral, the building burned along with the city. Over eleven hours, 515 bombers decimated Coventry.
It would have been easy to react with anger and hatred. The cathedral, which had been a home and a sanctuary to so many, now lay in ruins. As cathedral stonemason Jock Forbes looked over the rubble of the cathedral, what he saw was not only destruction and suffering but also a glimpse of hope: two of the roof beams had fallen in the shape of the cross amongst the fallen stones and broken glass. They were later placed on the altar, with only two words written behind them: Father, Forgive.
Jock was not ordained, he wasn’t a high profile leader. He was a person who had witnessed the destruction of his home town, but was determined to find new beginnings and pursue the possibility of transformation.
Standing in what's left of the original cathedral today is a powerful impetus to consider how we ourselves respond to conflict.
Another pivotal response from this tragedy came from Provost Richard Thomas Howard, who began reaching out as early as 1946 to German churches and communities who had also suffered from the war. This was the beginning of Coventry’s Community of the Cross of Nails (CCN), an international group of churches, charities and peace-building centres which work to fulfil Coventry’s three core values:
- Healing the wounds of history.
- Learning to live with difference and celebrate diversity.
- Building a culture of peace.
Over the past several decades, CCN has grown into a world renown community, now also involving the International Cross of Nails Schools (ICONS). This coming Wednesday, September 26th 2018, around 65 people from CCN partners across the globe will gather in Coventry for the International Gathering. They will share their stories and attend workshops, while also eating, worshipping and singing together in a celebration of how far the community has come and how much more it still has the potential to do.
Join us this week as we continue to feature Coventry Cathedral and the Community of the Cross of Nails.