Monday, May 25, 2009

When in Rome, do as the Romans

Yesterday (Sunday) morning, Jess, Ashley and I went to church at Westminster Abbey. I figured I couldn’t pass up a chance to attend services at such a famous site. Traditionally, it is the site of coronations, weddings and burials of the British royals and other important figures. Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare, among many others, are buried there, for instance.

(On a side note: Princess Diana got married at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is somewhat uncustomary for the royals. However, I definitely see her point. Don’t get me wrong … Westminster Abbey is absolutely beautiful; however, it doesn’t compare to St. Paul’s Cathedral in my book. Really, none of the buildings I’ve seen do.)

It is an Anglican church, I think, but I found the service to be quite like the Catholic ones back home. The “Apostles’ Creed” and the “Our Father” were slightly different, but, overall, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

One definite difference was the music. Many of the songs had a round style to them, in which one section would start singing and then the other sections would follow, as opposed to singing every word together.

I also found that people’s dress was a lot different than I expected. I assumed that people would dress up; that’s just what I’ve learned to do in respect for a place of worship. I don’t know if it was the denomination or if it was because it’s a big tourist attraction, but a lot of people did not dress up. There was a girl, maybe 13 years old, in a T-shirt and jeans. Another woman, probably a few years older than me, wore a green frock dress with black leggings and rose-colored Converse high-tops. Two teenage guys wore T-shirts and khaki shorts, with one wearing beat-up sneakers and the other wearing sandals. 

… Not that I know what people really wear to church on regular basis. Religion never really had a particularly stringent presence in my life growing up, and I was never much of a churchgoer. Without getting into too much detail, religion and religious practices have always been complicated issues for me — ones that I’m still trying to figure out.

That is what surprised me about Sunday. I’m not one to be particularly emotional about such things, but, sitting after Communion, I found myself tearing up. I still have no idea why I was so moved: Westminster Abbey is very nice and all, but it’s not an earth-shattering experience. I suppose all the emotion of being in London and seeing and experiencing so many new things finally caught up with me?


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