So, here is what you see outside the room I wrote about last time. I will always remember the first time I saw this sign over a decade ago and followed the arrow, intrigued.
It's impossible to describe in words what it's like to walk from the hustle and bustle of the airport, the constant movement and noise, into the quiet place that sign points to. It's such a welcome and unexpected contrast. We get so used to functioning in noise and tuning it out to the extent we can, that to walk into, and then sit in, such deep silence, causes the body and mind and spirit to move into a different realm of perception.
It takes a moment to adjust, and then you begin to notice things around you and within you that you simply would not have noticed, could not have noticed, with the noise.
This was the first time I noticed these hymnbooks on the shelf near the entrance. Maybe they were there before, but I had not seen them. Again intrigued, I picked one up and opened it.
And it's not possible to put in words either the sense of "walking into" that hymnbook. We were far from home, in a country where neither of us has lived, on a continent that has largely forgotten the faith that once infused its history, literature, architecture, ethics, and sense of identity.
So to sit in that place, open this book, and see hymns that I grew up singing in church was just a lovely surprise. This is even the same tune we used with this text when we sang it in church.
And then to see it written out in so many languages, and to know that people have been singing it in different countries (or else why would it have been included?) for many years, expressing the same thoughts and beliefs, even though their languages and cultures and histories and habits were not the same, just filled me with a beautiful sense of connectedness. I didn't feel so far from home.
Especially because we had this sung at our wedding, with its other tune, known as Hyfrydol.
This one started off with the Italian, at least on this page.
And here it begins in English. They included so many languages that they printed the music more than once for readability because they wouldn't all fit on one opening.
We also had this song at our wedding.
And we did not have this one at our wedding, which will surprise no one, probably, but it was one of my favorites growing up.
And eventually our time in the prayer room ended, and the journey continued.