A moment of rest at St. Giles Cathedral

My Grandma and Grandpa Fraser both died when I was four years old. I don't remember a lot about them, but I sure do remember their Scottish accents, their love for Fraser tartan, scones, and purple thistles; and the green and black plaid carpeting throughout their house. I'm reminded of that carpet every time I see photos of certain rooms in Queen Elizabeth's Balmoral Castle.

Being an American, I understand that we didn't want the to be subject to the King of England any more. But being the granddaughter of Scottish immigrants...well...it's hard for me to not love this queen! I actually think it's rather lovely that she passed away in Scotland. Her mother was Scottish and they say that the queen loved that country dearly. Her coffin was taken to St. Giles' Cathedral on Monday, where 26,000 people filed past, paying their last respects to their queen. When I heard that she was taken there, I couldn't help but smile.

Because I, too, found a moment of rest in St. Giles.

36 years ago, I was on a field trip with my high school to England and Scotland. I lived in West Berlin, Germany, at the time, so a field trip to the United Kingdom wasn't the big deal that it would be from here. We took a train through East Germany into Frankfurt, West Germany, then our journey continued on a bus through Germany, into The Netherlands and onto a ferry across the English Channel. We saw a few sights in London and then continued on our bus up north to Scotland. By the time we got to the Royal Mile, where St. Giles Cathedral is situated, I was mighty tired of being with all of those people!

And so, despite the fact that we weren't supposed to go anywhere without our assigned "buddy", I made my escape, leaving the group to their shopping. The rain was pouring down but I didn't care. I ran across the street and slipped into St. Giles. It's a small cathedral, dim, chilly, as most European churches are. A string ensemble was rehearsing while people came and went, wanting to see this place where John Knox himself decried against Mary, Queen of Scots and, together with other Reformers, claimed the building as a Protestant church.

Churches are places of refuge, and St. Giles was that for me that day. I sat on a pew for no more than ten minutes, but that gave me the strength to return to my group in peace. I needed that space. I needed that prayer. I needed just that little time to be alone with my own thoughts after hundreds of miles and days upon days surrounded by my classmates.

For Queen Elizabeth, St. Giles was a moment of rest for her body along her journey to her final resting place.

It was that for me, too.

"Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken." Psalm 62:1-2


Nancy - September 17th, 2022 at 11:50am

Even then you needed “ your space” Interesting

Gretchen O'Donnell - September 21st, 2022 at 10:26am

Yep! I needed to get away before I shouted at someone.