Recently I was staying in London and a friend told me about the ‘Gaia Exhibition’ in Southwark Cathedral, a focus for thought & prayer for the care of our planet. It’s a travelling exhibition that’s been in other cathedrals, and the entrance was free. I was ordained in the Cathedral many years ago so it’s a place that has significance for me.
Intrigued I went along and was taken aback by the sight of a huge revolving model of our Earth, hanging suspended in the Nave of the Cathedral. Many people were present, of all ages & nationalities, walking around, or standing and gazing wrapped in wonder at what they were seeing. There was a still & prayerful atmosphere. I went & stood in the Chancel and looked down the length of the building.
Suddenly I remembered. It was a day in later November 1991, thirty years previously. I had with others edited a book ‘Approaches to Prayer’ that contained a wide range of different prayer exercises, and we had organised a Day of Prayer in the Cathedral at which many of those prayer exercises were available at different times & at various stations around the building, led by those who had written them. Large numbers of people came & it was a wonderful day. I had nothing to do but be there. The Cathedral always had a Eucharist at midday, so that was one of the prayer exercises, and I was asked if I’d administer a chalice. I was stood during the service behind the altar, and I had a vision: I saw our Earth in space, floating at the back of the Cathedral, prayer was rising like incense from all over it. And God said that all this prayer, from many faiths & centuries, offered in many languages, was all acceptable, as was the prayer being offered around the Cathedral at that moment. I was astonished and my understanding of prayer underwent a dramatic deepening, which changed me.
Gradually it dawned on me that my vision was now being fulfilled, in the Gaia Exhibition’: people of all faiths and none were gathered in the Cathedral praying for our Earth and all their prayers were valid & acceptable. This at a time when the issues facing our world are everybody’s issues, and they need us to cooperate in addressing them. Our various faith leaders need to set an example to our political leaders, one of mutual acceptance & affirmation.