Doing is believing!
Our faith is built up by doing, not just by thinking
Yesterday marked the end of the ‘Being Human’ art installation that has been part of our Cathedral life for the last five weeks. Tens of thousands of people have come through our doors and engaged with it. Many people, as observed from their comments, both written and spoken, have been deeply impacted by it. As we head into very uncertain times, it has been a real tonic to be reminded of the core of our humanity; our need to create, connect and reflect, and to become more aware of our identify with reference to God.
The reflective area of the exhibition has been the ‘leaves of hope’ in the War Memorial Chapel. Five thousand metal leaves, in various stages of rusting, have made us stop and think about death, dying, grief and loss. Not just in terms of people, but of way of life, world peace, health and well-being, the shock at recent violent crime in our city, to mention just a few. Each leaf, containing the word ‘Hope’ drew us on to reflect on where we can find hope. We encouraged people to take a prayer card, with a picture of a leaf on it, and to use the prayer on the reverse. The QR code enabled them to leave a prayer request on our virtual prayer wall. And many did. What has struck me more is the response to the other activity around the ‘leaves of hope’. We offered paper leaves, on which people could write a prayer, or draw it! Each day we have been laying those leaves in front of the High Altar of the Cathedral – the main focus of worship – to show how much these prayers matter to God. Quite spontaneously, people also started laying their prayer leaves in front of the ‘Leaves’ installation too! Along the kneelers that flank them. That way, they could lay the leaf for themselves, and be able to read the messages that other people had left on their leaves.
It has been a powerful lesson to me. Many people find it helpful to do something in the Cathedral, rather than just look and think. We’ve known this for years, of course. Why do so many people want to come in and light a candle? It’s a ‘sacramental action’ – an outward gesture which signifies something very deep within us. In the light of the terrible shootings in Liverpool in recent weeks, when we’ve all felt shocked and helpless, lost for words in the midst of such terror and suffering, there is real solidarity in the apparently simple act of laying flowers or attending a vigil, along with many other people. These sacramental actions represent many deep emotions and spiritual intentions – often where words fail us. Knowing that we have done something deepens our connection with the place in which we did it. What is fascinating to me is how we enjoy seeing how other people ‘do their thing’ here too. There is a blessing in knowing that we are part of something bigger. We are not the only ones who are impacted by the challenges that life throws up.
Which leads me to think about what I can do over the coming weeks and months that will mean so much to other people. Perhaps a simple act of kindness or thoughtfulness which will signify to someone else that I care and that they are not forgotten or taken for granted. I sense that we are all going to need to do and receive those sacramental actions even more than usual.
Of course, with Jesus, doing was always connected to believing. So it may be that the simple act of writing a prayer leaf or lighting a candle helps us to pause and reflect on what, or rather who, we believe in. If that is you, and you want to deepen your faith journey, then you are welcome to join us at the Cathedral as we travel on our faith journeys. Our regular services are always there, plus we have quite a lot of special and seasonal services in the autumn term. You are also welcome to have a look at the ‘Exploring Faith’ pages on our website. https://www.liverpoolcathedral.org.uk/exploring-faith/exploring-faith/
At the end of September, we shall be starting two gatherings for people who are wanting to deepen their relationship with God. One is a Wednesday lunchtime 4-week series, in person, based on Mindfulness. The other is ‘The Prayer Course’ on Wednesday evenings on Zoom, which is based on the Lord’s Prayer. There are also some great prayer resources for those who want to pray but are not sure how on the ‘Try Praying’ website: https://www.trypraying.org/
Any of these could be a great way in to exploring our relationship with God, and encountering afresh the God who knows us and loves us. After all, that is our guiding principle at Liverpool Cathedral. It is what we do!
With good wishes