As I push the dark oak door, a breeze of snuffed out candles and warm spices brushes past me. It’s a reassuring smell that reminds me of Christmas and I know instantly I’m somewhere safe. I stand in the doorway for a moment to compose myself as the rain drips off my coat, making little puddles on the hard stone floor.
A vast energy stirs.
It’s as if my entering has woken a large sleeping beast and I sense the whole church shift and sigh before falling softly back to sleep as the door shuts slowly behind me.
I look up instinctively, into the belly of the beast. My eyes trace the ancient stone beams that scoop and rise into a formidable ribcage. A thousand tiles glitter a deep gold in the shadows of the triforium, their colour reminding me of old kings and pirate’s gold. The rows and rows of polished pews span out ahead, like two great ladders leading to the altar.
I take a few steps forward and slip apologetically into the pew closest to me, shuffling along until I reach the very end, so I am tucked away safely in the corner. Those dark corners of the church hold statues of saints with the soft glow of tea lights littered at their feet. I stare at the flames, watching them flicker and splutter as each breath transcribes a prayer into the mind of God.
There’s a bible in front of me, a pen and some slips of white paper. I take a piece of paper, and resting the paper on my knee, I begin to write down words.
Taking me wholly by surprise, the church is suddenly saturated with a copper-coloured glow. Impulsive sunlight breaks the rain and streams through the tiny stained glass windows at the very top of the four walls. Beaming down beyond the pews, the warmth kisses the tips of the saint’s stony toes, as if He, himself has caught those prayers and laid down glimmering pathways from heaven.
I take a soft, deep breath and close my eyes. I’m aware of my breathing and how loud it sounds in such a quiet space.