From Inspiration to Fruition

BY LAUREN KAWAM

I stroll around St. Paul’s Cathedral, my footsteps echoing. The ceilings seem endless. The air inside has a cool tinge to it, even though the front doors remain closed.

A group of what looks like fifth graders hurries past me, whispering and trying to keep up with their absent-minded teacher.

In the time between when I arrive at the cathedral and when I sit to enjoy evensong, I muddle through my thoughts. I think about religion and God—and what religion is meant to do in our lives.

I think about how some people just rebuke religion as a man-made fluke, while others revere it as the guiding beacon in their daily lives.

I decide to do a story on what religion is meant to do in our lives. I’ll ask people of various religions the question, and record their answer. 

Once I finish the tour and have a chance to sit back and absorb, a woman’s voice comes over the loudspeaker and tells churchgoers that evensong is about to begin. We sit in the stalls, next to half of the all-male choir. This perspective was something unlike any other. Seeing facial expressions — both good and bad —  and hearing the different melodies was almost a sensory overload.

One man in particular looked to be a peer of mine instead of a child or a grown man. He was no more than 25. When he first came out, I barely recognized his as someone my age. Once I saw his eyes, however, I realized he was a dedicated, albeit relatively young choir singer. From the passion he put forth when singing the hymns, I feel as if religion plays a large role in his life.

Michael Shrewsbury, the prebendary, makes his way to the podium after three or four hymns. He recognizes us in his scratchy not-quite shaky voice and thank us for being in the cathedral.

He gives some inspirational words but doesn’t speak for more than two or three minutes. This time is not about giving a speech. It is about the music.

The choir sings about 20 hymns, seamlessly, before processing to their unknown hideaway behind a large mahogany door.

I’m intrigued to ask Michael what religion is meant to do in our lives, but first I head to the streets to get a feel for what others think.

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