Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Europe (excluding the United Kingdom) (02/19/09)
TITLE: Among the Shafts of Cathedral Light
By Jim McWhinnie
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As I leaned my weight into the door, its majestic weight began to yield. Then with its closing behind, I left the world of crowded, noisy madness into a solitary, quiet of holy light and shadows.
At first, the cathedral hushed the world I had left me, taking away its heated breathing. But then, not long after, the cathedral snatched away my panting breath and then began to breathe into me its timeless, eternal breath. And indeed, I must say, I could hear this sacred lady that had lingered here all these many generations whisper to me her sighs and prayers. She breathed the air of ancient saints, the air of faithful prayers, the air of candle smoke mixed with five centuries of hymns. She spoke in Latin; she spoke in French; she spoke in the language of farm boys now grown old.
My footsteps echoed off the stones and upward into the lower realms of heaven. I felt that if listened ever so carefully I might hear the very footsteps of immortality, the weary feet of humble pilgrims finishing their journey from once where they were to where they were called to be. Six hundred steps it took to make my journey down the holy mile, to stand amidst the shafts of stained glass light that descended down through dusty air and unto me. I closed my eyes so that I might feel that light, that light of majestic red and regal blue and old, so very old gold. The light felt warm. The light felt like mother’s grace. The light felt like the touch of wisdom far wiser than my own.
There I prayed midst the grand and noble towers of granite and glass. There I prayed humbled by the vastness of it all, in what ought to have been a strange land for a soul saved in white clapboard, country chapel. Yet, it felt like home. I could still hear townsfolk singing the well-worn hymns; I could hear the old preacher giving it all he had one more time; I could hear the water being poured into the baptismal font as a sinner knelt down to pray.
Yes, here among the shafts of cathedral light, the God who stops and visits country churches that are nearly lost on backwoods roads, came to sit with me in the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
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