Laughter is the Foundation of Reconciliation
11th March 2021
Usually at this time of year the Inters visit Coventry Cathedral as a part of their religious studies course. However as with so many other things, it has had to be cancelled this year because of the pandemic. And it really is one of my favourite places to visit, not only because of its amazing array of 20th century artworks, but because it bears witness to a message of Peace and Reconciliation. The message is writ large in the architecture and art of the cathedral in a city which was devastated by incendiary bombs in WWII. Following the bombing instead of choosing a path of retaliation, Coventry and its cathedral chose the path of reconciliation, bridge building between nations torn apart through conflict. This work continues today and the city hosts delegates from areas of conflict around the world and brings them together to seek solutions.
When we experience disagreements and conflicts coming together to share stories of our experiences humanises the ‘other’ with whom we may be in disagreement. And if we can find common ground for humour and laugh a little at our own conceits, so much the better. It really could as St Francis de sales says, provide a ‘foundation of reconciliation’.
I want to finish by sharing with you Coventry Cathedral’s litany of reconciliation. It was written by canon Joseph Poole in 1958 and is prayed on a daily basis in Coventry Cathedral as well as at other centres of reconciliation around the world. On our usual school visit there is always a time when we sit in the cathedral and hear the words read.
The Litany is framed around the seven deadly sins and serves as a reminder that when we pray about problems of the world around us, we need to begin by acknowledging the roots of those problems in our own hearts.
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.