Words are such poor servants.
The ones I can find from my 62 years of life I think cannot describe what I just felt.
In Old Riga where I am staying the buildings are tall, well tall for me. But wherever I have gone I have not lost sight of the spire of St Peters Church.
(How appropriate that it is named after my favourite apostle, the one I have felt a kinship with because of a name). Today I pulled out another of my brave cards that I have been saving and decided to find my own way down the narrow, bumpy, snowy streets to that church.
Someone I talked to said it would be open and I could go in. For a small price I was taken up in the spire in an elevator by a warmly clad lady. From there I could see all of Riga. The river, the roof tops, towers and bridges. I didn’t know the names but still the view was spectacular.
The lady waited to take me back down in the elevated when I signalled I was done by pressing a button. If she had not been there I think I would have died of exposure because it was cold and a damp snow was falling.
It was nice, interesting but it did not prepare me for the inside and its gothic style architecture.
Pictures could never do it justice it was just too beautiful. I studied art history and for close to 40 years I wondered what it would be like to stand under vaulted ceiling 3 or 4 stories high. Today I know. It was indescribable. The best I can say was that I imagined coming from a humble house with ceilings of a regular height hundreds of years ago and then stepping into all that vertical space. The eye can’t help but be drawn up to our heavenly home. It could be no less awe inspiring hundreds of years ago than it was for me today.
My camera battery gave up and I took very few pictures, which was a blessing really. Instead of through the eye of the camera I saw it all through my own eyes.
I sat in the front row of chairs (like I always do in church) and just cried. How could I be so blessed to have come from the prairie to this grand vaulted building in Latvia? To be in a church the likes of which I could only dream of experiencing. I thanked God.
And then I thought, it’s sad I am here alone to experience this. But as I looked at the carving of my Saviour at the front I knew I wasn’t alone, I am never alone. He always is with me.
I felt like I could hear the prayers of thousands through hundreds of years, pleading to the Saviour for help. Riga has had a turbulent history as one of the statues can attest; he bears the telltale mark of a bullet in the thigh. Perhaps they prayed for release from oppression and bondage. As I looked at the carving of the Lord on the cross I realized that all those prayers had been answered, maybe not from the bondage they had invisioned but rather from the bondage of sin, of death. When He hung on the cross he set us free.
I wiped away my shameless tears so they would not freeze to my face and left to walk back to the hotel a much better person. My very soul had been touched by the Spirit in Riga.
I am afraid when I leave, a piece of my heart will stay in this beautiful old city.