In my experience, there are often places that you come across that give you an inexplicable sense of holiness. Whether it is on a wind-swept hermit’s island off of Lindisfarne or a grandiose cathedral with its intricate arches and gilded altars. These are places that faithful people over many years have gathered and worshipped in. These are sacred spaces.
Often these places resonate with something deep within our souls. The Celtic people would have identified them as ‘thin places’ – where you could imagine the thinnest of veils between heaven and earth. Where connections could be felt most keenly between God and his people
During my recent ‘Worship Weekend’ at Cuddesdon, when we learnt amongst other things about worship, liturgy and church paraphernalia, our worship itself was held in the Bishop Edward King Chapel. This building is new. Its footfall so far light in numbers, its interior still pristine and its audacious appearance still startling on entry. Yet it feels immediately like a sacred place
The architect of this incredible building, Niall McLaughlin, talks about creating something from an image of a buoyant, tethered boat, with its elliptical shape resembling the nave of a boat with “Jesus asleep resting on a cushion in the prow… and the community gathering within mirroring the expectant disciples’ or of ‘ people collecting together around a hollow in ground [there is a natural hollow on the site of the chapel] ‘This hollow would represent the still place of origin. The tethered boat above would float above it, pulling up as if at sea…. you are drawn upwards yet your feet pull down to ground you. It is this dual motion of cleaving to the earth and being lifted that we want the building to communicate.”
And communicate it did… celebrating Communion, as rainbow patterns chase each other across the nave floor and flickering sunlight bounces off the walls, as the trees that surround the chapel move in rhythm of hymns and breeze, leaves you feeling that God is not only filling this space with his presence, but that the space the building occupies has become part of his creation
“As the priests were leaving the Temple, it was suddenly filled with a cloud shining with the dazzling light of the Lord’s presence” 2 Chronicles 5:13-14
Hopefully, the pictures give you some sense of the college and architect’s vision, but if you do every get a chance to visit maybe you will discover it for yourself
God cannot be contained in one place….. but containers can be a place to meet him!
Follow this link to find out more about the Bishop Edward King Chapel and the vision behind it http://www.rcc.ac.uk/downloads/Edward%20King%20Chapel%20Description.pdf