Day 2: Forgiveness in Coventry
In planning for my walk, I was concerned that on some days I might take a lot longer to get to my destination than I’d intended. What I hadn’t expected was that it might take a lot less.
I’m pleased to report that I arrived in central Coventry early this afternoon, much to my own surprise. People who know me well (and probably people who know me slightly) will tell you that being early, or even being on time, is not an obvious characteristic of mine.
I visited Coventry Waterstone’s, where I used to work as a bookseller over six years ago. It was great to meet former colleagues, though the context was slightly odd (“What are you up to these days?”; “I’m walking from Birmingham to London”).
I’m really looking forward to meeting with Coventry Peace Church this evening. They have kindly offered me food and asked me to talk with them about my pilgrimage. They are inspired by Anabaptist ideas, and I expect I’m likely to share much of their outlook.
I felt almost guilty after my early arrival today, as if my walk were more authentic the more time it took. This is silly. My walk is neither a test of endurance nor an attempt to impress people.
The unexpected time this afternoon not only allowed me to restore my energy ahead of the meeting with Coventry Peace Church but gave me time to pray in Coventry cathedral, a long standing symbol of reconciliation and forgiveness.
As I knelt in silence in front of the words ‘Father forgive’, I contemplated the nature of forgiveness and its relevance to homophobia and prejudice. I was interrupted by a cathedral steward shouting to visitors that the place was about to close, fortunately I’ll have plenty of time to contemplate these questions further over the next two weeks.