Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Tower of London-June 22
The Tower of London was a surprise.It was many narrow stone towers and other large castle-like buildings.It was a beautiful day, sunny with the beautiful Thames in the background.The other choice on the tour that Sunday was a boat ride on that river but I chose the Tower.Despite the cafe, the gift shop and the ice cream vendor, the Tower is a serious place.I felt that.There are places here called the Bloody Tower and the Scaffold Site.
I've learned enough history to know that many were executed here.The inconvenient Anne Boleyn: the unmovable John Fisher and Thomas More.The towers where the prisoners were kept are narrow, rounded and with one entry, guarded always, no doubt.The guards are gone, the cells empty, but a light shines from this place that has flickered through the centuries.The one thing that Thomas More did not want to do was die. He languished in a cell for 15 months. He had a career, a much loved family and a deep faith.All he had to do was sign a paper saying that wrong was right with fingers crossed behind his back and he could have retired to the lovely countryside to read and dote on his family.How many prayers did he say asking for relief from the quandary he was in?Or for strength.Finally, the King, one Henry, could abide this resistance no longer and the time came for a visit to the scaffold.How does one walk to it?
This is how;"I do not care very much what men say of me, provided God approves of me."Thomas More 1532.
Saint Thomas, you may be surprised to learn that the Church has not forgotten you.Co-incidentally, today she celebrates your Godly life with a feast day.The same day that I came to witness where you walked.
All this happened centuries ago.I plodded along never expecting to be moved by empty tower rooms.But then I saw it: scratching on a tower wall, left by a Jesuit prisoner.I am sure he visited the scaffold too, but left behind a sign of where his strength came from.Under a protective plastic, are the letters I H S ,a monogram for Jesus Christ. I believe that this was the man's last thought as he walked to the scaffold and his first sight after that.