Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner September 29, 2022
Thank you sincerely and admiringly to the people of the U.K. for the week of September 11, which you gave the watching world so fully. We will never forget living through it. Four billion of us, they say.
The utter civility of it all: the goodwill, the quiet and peacefulness, the patience of tens of thousands of ordinary people (and some extraordinary ones, such as soccer star David Beckham and actor Tilda Swinton). People standing in lineups of 12 and 13 hours; the kindness, the precision, the clarity of ancient symbols and rituals, the beauty and colour. Plus the prayerful attitudes and religious references, psalms, hymns and readings.
It was a balm for sad and wounded souls around the world. A sign that we humans are not so bad after all. We can gather in huge numbers to commemorate a long life lived with honour. And a long female life to boot.
Alerted by a small notice in The Peterborough Examiner, I made my way down to St John’s Anglican Church, the great, tall, Gothic church opened in 1837 on Brock Street, next door to its vibrant outreach ministry to the homeless, One Roof, on September 15.
I am not a member of the congregation, but of a sister denomination, and an admirer of their social outreach. I felt the need to reflect and pray with kindred spirits.
Rev. Brad Smith led the service, singing hymns with gusto, and preaching even-handedly about the pros and cons of monarchy, and the virtues of the deceased monarch.
Elizabeth II, the head of that denomination constitutionally via historic precedent from the 16th century, had died after a remarkable 70 years on the throne. Her son, Charles, 73, now ascends. He has wisely said he will not only be a defender of the faith (Anglicanism), but a defender of all faiths. What the world needs.
Believers must rediscover the peaceful, loving texts of their respective great faiths, set aside the divisive ones, and put the best into practice.
During the week, there was a stunning photo of Canadian leadership when four former Prime Ministers, (Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Kim Campbell and Stephen Harper) and two former Governors General (David Johnson and Michaelle Jean) met at Canada House with the incumbents in those offices, P.M. Trudeau and G.G. Simon.
That gathering was presided over by our High Commissioner to the U.K, the genial Ralph Goodale. Trudeau gracefully took the occasion to bestow on former Prime Minister Harper the Order of Canada.
Television provided us with almost intimate feelings of participation: BBC and American PBS and CBC Newsworld were valuable. Commentary, especially that from British historians, provided solid education. Canada’s Ann MacMillan was ever astute. We still need commentators who are knowledgeable in the field of religion, to communicate fully what we are seeing and hearing.
There were Mounties on horseback, members of our armed forces and Indigenous leaders.
The most profound moment for me, was in Windsor Castle chapel on Monday when the three symbols of monarchy, the crown, sceptre and orb, were removed from the casket and set on the high altar, to be given to the incoming King Charles next May at his coronation.
Then under the casket, which contained the remains of a person being restored to simple status and returned to her family, an opening in the floor leading to a vault below appeared, just as in a Shakespearean play at Stratford. The coffin descended. A Scottish piper walked away from the chapel, playing a mournful lament.
Rich in moral significance, and having had profound success at bringing people together, the service also took a political position in not inviting six countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Russia, Belarus and Myanmar.
Every detail, they say, had been worked out with the Queen herself. What became clear at the end was her ardent religious faith, and her commitment to her church.
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at email@example.com or from >Amazon<