It was a different kind of quiet day. A morning train carried us just past Cambridge to Ely, a little town with a grand cathedral.
A cool breeze blew and the sun shone, some of the first really warm light I've felt in a while. Wandering through the meadow that sits on the Cathedral's grounds, I felt giddy in the green-leaf air.
The whole day had a cozy woolen feel as High Street opened up and we gazed longingly at the hand crafted pottery lining the shelves. A small garden called us over and we wandered in circles through its beds, our bodies soaking up the vegetal air like starved city sponges. I stood, brimming over with the sight of flowers and vine covered brick.
Making our way to a tea room just below the Cathedral, we met some of my extended family over cream tea and sandwiches and caught up on two years of life-lived.
Somehow I forgot how blissful a simple cup of tea with cream and sugar can be.
With no need for grand sights or jealousy-inducing photographs, our whole group chose to walk down the street to a small little shop under the eaves of quaint flats where a small family has owned a shoe repair shop for decades. For all its simplicity, its beauty struck me deeply as laces in every color you can imagine hung on the walls. Rimmed with little pots of polish, shining shoe horns, and a few leather crafted goods, the space feels genuine and down to earth, like hearty grain bread or clean broth.
We watched as the son, now in his fifties and on his fortieth year working in this cozy little room, hand cut a pair of cotton laces and placed metal crimps on the ends. My heart longs to find moments like these at home in the United States where the depth of history and craftsmanship is behind something so small and simple. Where there's a face and a person and a life connected to the things we use everyday.
Determined to keep ambling and with nowhere particular to go, all five of us settled into a coffee shop for yet another cuppa to continue our chatting. We left time open with only the cathedral's vesper's service as a reason to get up again.
Inside the cathedral I discovered yet another layer of quiet, one that I haven't felt in a very long time. It's the quiet of settled dust and quiet footsteps; a quiet that can be shattered in a single moment but which soon fills the space again. It's a quiet that surrounds buried bones and follows choral hymns.
The cathedral itself is battered and torn at the edges. The walls are scraped clean of the vibrant pigments that once adorned it and pedestals stand empty on every wall. The figures that could not be removed all at once stand in their robes, their faces chiseled or snapped off at the neck. Cromwell is long dead and buried, but the scars of his work are still scattered across England.
An unsettling tension comes off of these walls with their rows on rows of headless figures. Yet, as the choir files in and the shuffling of their robes echoes back and forth against the walls, there's a moment where you realize that the tension will melt the moment they open their mouths.
Happily dozing on the underground, the train rocking my tired body back and forth, I clutched the pork pie tighter. The butter smell of the crust wafted up through the cloth. Keys in the lock, clicking the door closed behind us, bags down on the side table, and a single light on to see, we cut open the pie and yet another kind of quiet fell -- the quiet of good food after a day stretched out by conversation.
What are your favorite kinds of quiet? Comment below or share on the facebook page.