During my summer break I went to a cathedral which is one very close to my heart as I have been going there since my childhood and even got permission as a child to do some brass rubbings there which I had to get permission from the Archbishop himself to do. He was rather impressed with my work too. Nowadays one is not allowed to even do that. So it was an honour to have been able to do that.
Anyway I often go there to pray, light some candles for family and friends, and meditate. It is my spiritual sanctuary. I like the idea of being able to leave messages as well. I often write letters addressed to God. It is my way of getting closer to the Creator. And now knowing what I have learnt and been told, it would not surprise me if those you loved so very much who are no longer here are looking over your shoulder as you write. I find that to be of immense comfort and the knowledge I have learnt recently has given me the piece of mind I have been seeking certaintly since 2002 but I have been seeking truths since I was a child.
So you see when I go to a place of worship it is to pray and not treat the place as a tourist attraction, which I find obscene. For the best part of a decade, probably more, my cathedral has been charging people to go in. I have never paid a penny. Why? Because I argued that I was there to pray and since when did the Almighty introduce Pray As You Go?!! I also put to them that a bloke 2,000 years ago turned over chairs and tables for such behaviour. They knew I was right and never contested this.
However to my great surprise and pleasure this summer holiday I was visiting the cathedral with a friend who unfortunately is seriously ill at the moment. I knew on this visit it would for once not be a full prayer visit, as I tend to do that alone as I feel it is a very private thing to do. So I was dreading the prospect of having to pay. But I discovered they no longer charge! I wonder what brought about this change in policy? The one I had fought all this time? I did get to light a few candles in the end and a quick note whilst my friend was in the chapel part of the cathedral. I'll go again in August when I shall spend time to myself and do a proper visit. I might even take another look at the Chapter House as I felt uneasy there and discovered a priest was buried underneath the Chapter House. Last time I had that sensation was when I visited an old house in Cornwall and I asked if it was haunted and I told yes it was by a surprised curator as it was not public knowledge.
Getting back to the point of this post however, I think it is important that in a place of worship once does not force charges on those going there. They are places of worship not museums. I will happily pay to visit the National Gallery or Science Museum in London for example, but I don't think it should be forced for visiting a cathedral or church etc. Voluntary donations sure. I have no problem with that.
I am sure in the Bible it was written that when Jesus ascended He said he would be among us always. I like to think that means that He would be here right now mingling with everyone, having a cup of coffee in Starbucks or something, visiting all sorts of places and so on. I would not mind having that cup of coffee with Him as I have so many questions to ask! Being a writer and full of imagination I could not help but muse the notion that He has visited my cathedral incognito. I wonder what He would have made of the charging regime! I realise there are very high maintenance costs in running these places and fundraising events do take place up and down the country to repair the church roof for example, but really come on, the Church is steeped in money, surely they can apply for a grant of money from the Church admin offices. The Vatican is rolling around in funds, that quite frankly just a small share of that fortune would eliminate world poverty overnight.
Well I have said my bit now. I just had to share my thoughts on what I think is an important topic. I hope you found it of interest.