16 March 2013

St. David's of Llanddew

We attended a snug little church building in the traditional cross shape all built up with sandy Welsh stone, filled with old wooden pews, and decorated with such things as you expect to find in an aging church. The small organ filled the central room to the very edges without overpowering the low murmurs of the congregation as they entered. As a group of sixteen, we more than doubled their attendance that morning and the leaders went into a back room to pull out more hymnals.

It was a beautiful thing to see the congregation, all over fifty and most around seventy, get excited over a group of twenty-somethings arrive at their door. One of the women told me after that it felt like the hymns and the congregation had been filled with new energy by it.

As the organ slowed and stopped, one of the men got up, walked to the front of the church, and began ringing the bell rope that hung right behind the pulpit. We could hear the bells muffled through the ceiling as though the sound were falling from the top tower and sliding down the roof.

The heating system wasn't working. While the wind from outside was stoutly blocked, the cold radiated from the stone walls around us and our breath condensed and mingled above the pews and over the pulpit.

As it was Mothering Sunday,* we were unexpectedly treated to little flower bouquets and a chocolate each from the box that was passed around. After the service, chocolate cake was advertised in the back room and we followed the congregation to their side hall where we found much appreciated warm tea and coffee, chocolate cake, and the white haired ladies telling us that we really had to eat more, freshly home-baked chocolate cake.

One of our guys sat in a corner with two old darling little ladies and made them giggle for the whole half-hour we were privileged to stay after the service. Their cheeks were pink with both the cold and the idea of having an attractive young American man talking to them. I have never enjoyed listening to or watching a conversation more.


* Mothering Sunday was the Sunday before Easter when young people in the service of the large houses of Britain were allowed to go home and see their families. Unless disaster struck, it was the one day they were allowed to see their mothers. They would often be given a pudding from the kitchens of their house to take with them, hence the tradition of Mothering Sunday being the one day during Lent when you can indulge in whatever you have given up.

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