The Carlisle Church

You are entering the grounds of Carlisle Cathedral. A cathedral church has been on this site since 1133. Enjoy the beauty of this ancient sacred place.

To say that the atmosphere around me visibly changed as I approached the entrance to the Carlisle Cathedral is as close to the truth as I can describe. I wasn’t even thinking about Kenya in any real sense as I humbly walked inside.

Old buildings such as these let me really think about God. I sit on a wooden pew, admiring the architecture when I hear the strangest yet most familiar sound….

“Is that Swahili?” I think to myself. The official language of East Africa here on the grounds of this old church in the border town of Carlisle? I hear music wafting from somewhere, yet I look around and can not locate the source for the life of me.

The music grows louder, yet no one around me seems to notice.

Well I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?

The Soweto Gospel Choir is a group I first heard on my inaugural trip to Kenya in 2009. All of their music is inspirational, but the version of the song “Hallelujah” has always moved me to tears.

The song seems to only be playing for me, and it has me paralyzed on the pew. My life over the last ten years flashes before my eyes. The death of my sister which brought me to Kenya in the first place. My experiences in the Soweto slums that will have forever changed my perspective. I let go of all the guilt I have been harboring, and accept the fact that what I did was enough.

There is always more than can be done, but it is not my responsibility alone to do it all. Seems simple enough, yet it has been so hard to accept.

As the music continues to play, seemingly from the heavens above, I let the tears roll down my cheeks. I priest comes up and embraces me . This stranger only can see the hurt in my face.

I remember each embrace I gave to the students, teachers, and friends of Kenya. I tell them to not give up, that God will provide as long as they have faith. I always felt that I was giving them false hope, as I’m not sure I believed myself what I was telling them.

Yet this priest was consoling me without knowing what I was going through. His faith was enough for him.

One person can have such an indelible impact on someone else without even realizing it.

I can hope forever that I had some sort of positive impact during my time in Kenya. I’ve accepted though that what I did, or at least tried to do, was enough.

The music ends. Perhaps it never even began. Regardless, it doesn’t matter. My sister’s voice comes to me loud and clear as I rise from the pew, telling me “it’s time to move on“.

Hallelujah.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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