Winchester Cathedral

It’s in the crypt of the cathedral that I understand.

As the notice explains, the crypt floods during rainy months, and we’ve had a few of those; the air is damp, water lingers in corners, though the pumps are quiet.

And in the middle of the wet, beneath 12th century arches, the stilling figure of a man in contemplation, created by Anthony Gormley.

And it is here, beneath the rush above, and eased from its grip, I understand.

The rush must be, we all know that – let there be rush!

So, above me now, with deadlines to meet, the cathedral choir rehearses; tour guides hurry their tour groups along; stone masons chip, chat, shave and shape.

And above me now, proud tomb stones of those with cash or fame; battered pilgrims seeking side chapels for prayer; bells ringing, tills ringing… cash-flow flowing to keep this ancient show on the road.

(£9.95 for eternity in stone, cheap at the price.)

And these things must be; the calm and frantic rush above my head, the vergers gliding, the parents watchful; the clergy, fretful, last-minute prep for evensong – ‘Who’s reading the lesson?’

And so the cathedral dance goes on.

Though it’s below the rush where essence is found; and eased from its grip, alone in the crypt, I find another land

And understand.

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