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(The kind of meditation I am about to introduce was first experienced by me at Unitarian College, and it comes from Eastern sources. In its more intensive form it facilitates with eyes closed your own visualising into a flight of fantasy though time and space. The meditation allows a lighter alternative of listening to a fantasy story with open eyes. Which you choose I leave to you.
(For those choosing the lighter approach I ask you to spend some moments relaxing and bringing to yourself a sense of history of the worshipping community meeting here. When the meditation begins, I will use the forms of the more intensive approach, but try and see it as a story of a journey. For those choosing the more intensive approach there are a few preparations.
Please begin by having a comfortable posture. Look ahead as you do and see the strength of light, the colours around you and the view that is yours. Now, slowly, close your eyes and bring to your mind's eye that same picture. It is as though your eyes are open but they remain closed. Hold your image and relax. It is not a photograph but more dynamic, as if you are seeing. And now without opening your eyes, imagine further that they are open. Hold and keep that sensation a moment and let it become normal; you have your visualisation of you in your church.
Now you see a growing intensity of light above, shining down and over what you see. For the roof of this building has given way to white light. You are rising. You are rising; you are privileged and leaving others behind. They are praying, they are going to be singing, they are worshipping, but you are rising, and you see everyone still below, but now you rise - and rise above the building, and as you look down the roof of this church forms itself back. You are above, and free to look and view, to see anything that goes on anywhere around. Pause and take a look around: see what you see - the church, the houses, the road, the traffic, the views beyond, anything. You see the cityscape, see the bustle of activity. And now you know you can slide through the air and you can go anywhere. So go: go first at speed towards the old fish docks... And there they come, down below. You see them... but you see them as once they were. You can see fishing activity return and smell the fish. Look, the Clive Sullivan Way is vanishing, and has disappeared. Railway sidings are reappearing as you look around.
So look across the cityscape and go above the old Hessle Road. Look down upon it and see the area busy with through traffic. What about the city centre? Go over to there. Wide busy roads are where pedestrian ways were built, wide busy tarmac roads and noisy one way traffic. Hear the traffic. And you can see, fading in, buses and cars and lorries are earlier models, and the one way system as it was is becoming two way, and now you see wires and trolleybuses. And travel around, look down and around. Those trolleybuses are on rails, in fact trams on rails under the wires. Roads are getting narrower; and look - some buildings are disappearing to rubble. The bomb damage is ever more extensive; you hear echoes of air raid sirens, and many small old buildings replace those gaps of rubble.
See below, see the narrow streets, see more horses. See at a pace how the road surfaces have changed. The noise of the city is changing to few cars, coal is smellier than before, small vans, horses hooves, trams and carriages are all over, and people walk over the streets again between the horses.
Now go over to the Old Town. Will this be familiar? There is no wide Alfred Gelder Street, only narrow streets, but you recognise the pattern. But look up and around to the far horizons: fields are coming in to where once you knew houses and streets. The population must be less: but here, below where you are, it is still busy and bustling. The Old Town now really is the town. Look across at the small sailing boats on the Humber. Below is Whitefriargate and Silver Street, and the people mingling, and just a little north from here you can see an Octagonal building with arched windows. You hear music. Time is paused; it must be a Sunday. Go above the octagon and listen as the sweet singing rises.
You would like to float down and join them. You can just hear a voice speak of liberty, Jesus and their new church for the worship of God. But as you float down, you cannot enter the building you saw, for now below you it is rectangular, and you pass through space into a hall and its people sat in huddles. Another Sunday? Join them, sit with them, either side of you, in front of you and behind you. They do not see you. They are all listening to the minister dressed in black. He is preaching hard that the blood of Christ saved the elect and it is the duty of the saved to put to flight the evil all around. Everyone is listening hard, praying hard that they are saved. This is a strange land, a strange place - so you are rising towards light.
You are above again, looking down, and the rectangle becomes octagonal again. You know the scene below you is a rush, and time is rushing forward. Fly fast to the west, and the north west, fly back to where you came, for ahead will be a church and steeple and there is among the grand houses of Park Street. You hear again the noise of traffic, you smell less coal. But there is singing. Another Sunday still. Go above. Look down. You would like to go in, so descend. But as you do towards the high steep roof it gets lower, and as you enter the narrow space you know your own seat is below; for though the brightness you are ariving where first you were, feeling the seat, touching the ground, the brighness above declining, and seeing in front in your church as you saw before.
For you are back with everyone else, with those you do know, in a time you understand, for you have been on a privileged journey to a past where no one else can ever return, and your eyes can open in the present.