It’s cold and windy outside. It’s tempting to eat lunch at your desk and avoid going out. Still, you know that a wander will clear your head and lift your mood. Instead of staying in or going out in search of coffee, you could try something a bit different. How about visiting a nearby church?
You certainly don’t need to be religious or go to pray. If you’re based near the city, here is a map of churches in the square mile. I’m on a mission to visit all of the 48 churches in the City of London* – here are some of the more welcoming and regularly open churches I’ve discovered so far.
Here are a few good reasons to visit a church during a work day:
- Tranquility. Unlike so many spaces in the city, churches are designed to be peaceful and reflective. You can sit quietly in a pew or walk quietly around the space, with no need to speak to anyone or do anything. Just be present and peaceful. Tranquility can be so restorative and fundamental to our resilience.
- Explore your area. There may well be a church a few streets away that you’ve never visited. Finding nearby churches will be an opportunity to explore the local environment and take a detour through new alleyways and streets.
- Architecture. Look up and you’ll see the spires and towers of churches, many dating back to medieval times. It’s a chance to learn and many churches provide leaflets with information about the building.
- History. Churches are fascinating places that connect up to their local community now and in the past in interesting ways. In the city churches I’ve come across links to seafaring, patten makers, refugees, haemophilia, the Samaritans. There is frequently a relationship with particular saints or royalty as well as survival stories of buildings being bombed or burnt down. Every church has a tale to tell.
- Decoration. Churches are filled with wonderful decoration such as stone work, wooden carvings, paintings, stained glass, hand crafted kneelers. There’s always something beautiful and/or unusual to discover.
- Multi-purpose. As well as religious services, your local church may have a number of other uses such as being a cafe, home for a choir, concerts, talks, exhibition space or even yoga. What happens in your local church?
- Churchyards. Many churches have churchyards that you can sit in or wander through. You may come across new sculptures or discover new places to find tranquility or eat your lunch in the summer.
- Pray. You may also wish to pray or light a candle. Some churches share a prayer that you can use.
- Donation. You may also be invited to make a small donation by putting a coin in a box or even making a contactless payment.
(*Special thanks to my friend Barbara – a church watcher and medieval architecture enthusiast – who not only opened my eyes to the accessibility of church buildings but also has guided my mission to visit city churches with oodles of knowledge, stories and insight).
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