On my second day in Scotland, after I’d slept off some of the jet lag, I ventured onto a tour bus that took me to the Glasgow Cathedral. In the bright sunshine, the cathedral stood as a dark example of Gothic architecture, built before the Reformation, older than Lutheranism and anything I’d experienced since my college trip to Europe almost 20 years ago.
A tour guide told of how the cathedral used to be called “The Pink Church” because its stones had a pink hue, but with the Industrial Revolution came soot and grime. Cleaning it would damage the exterior, yet the shaded stone holds a beauty of its own.
It was a warm afternoon yet once I stepped into the church it was dark and cool, with tourists milling around quietly. I first noticed signs of church life in the main area, including a sign-up for coffee following worship services on Sundays. The cathedral is still an active Christian congregation and part of the Church of Scotland.
The main worship area is surrounded by stained glass windows, including one portraying the beauty of creation with a river running through the trees:
My next steps led me to a small table with candles, blank note cards, pencils and a box that said this:
In that moment, so far from home, I felt the common bond of prayer, a bond that surpasses distance, time, language and even death itself. As I wrote my prayer and tucked it into the box, I was grateful for those who would share in my prayer, experiencing a vision of congregation members in Glasgow praying for the people of my church in White Bear Lake. I thought of the stream of tourists flowing through the cathedral all year round and the people who prayed for them all.