A Visit to The Old North Church

A short walk from the Italian restaurants and bakeries of the North End of Boston, I sat in a pew at the Old North Church.  Yes, there was that Paul Revere oneth by land, twoeth by sea light signaling business from the top of the church that ushered in the American Revolution but, first things first, this high sided box pew made me feel safe and protected for a few minutes yesterday.

As our republic goes through its current economic and political crisis, I find it excruciating to read or listen to one more word about it.  The difference between me and Sarah Palin?  I know when I’m clueless.

So, yesterday, I went to visit a spot that helped give birth to our country in search of I don’t know what.   I sat down in one wooden box pew toward the back and looked at the tourists filming the chandeliers, the windows, the balcony.   A young man was at the front of the church giving a five minute talk about the church and its historical significance.  He was on speed delivery as there was a private event starting in five minutes and all of us had been warned that the church was going to close to the public for an hour and half.

I liked my pew.  It made me feel safe.  The sides were high and felt a bit like a small ship berthed in port.  The sense of safety came from the sheer presence of history around me.  It was built in 1723 and some of the marks on the floor appeared very old indeed.  It had endured.  We as a nation had endured.  I thought about ducking down and sitting on the floor while everyone left and the private event started.

I would have except if I got down on to the floor, I  was not absolutely confident  I could get back up on my own which is when my fleeting moment of safety and protection vanished.

This is pretty much how I feel about everything right at the moment.

I left the pew along with all the other camera toting visitors and went out to find me a big ol’ cannoli.

©Pat Coakley 2008


8 comments on “A Visit to The Old North Church”

  1. Ahhh, but where did you go for that cannoli? Mike’s or Modern? I’m a Modern man, my self. The line tends to be shorter too.

    I know what you mean about going back to see where it all started. I find my self doing the same, either through reading or going to the places. I find that it makes me profoundly sad but glad for the perspective. One of my favorite places to go is the Old North Bridge in Concord. I have an audio book of “Common Sense”, read by Adrian Cronauer that I keep on my iPod and re-listen to pretty often. I think it helps me feel good about why we started this country and give me some kind of hope that we can get some of that back some day.


  2. Ah, neither of those two, Turkish. Can’t remember the name. Am glad you have a resource to keep your eye on the fundamentals…now, could you lend it to Congress?

  3. It’s so inescapable- this feeling of being overwhelmed, that maybe it’s the perfect thing to do- seek the kind of sanctuary that serves to ground you and finish it off with a pastry.

    I spent a day in the company of a few hundred others, protesting with signs outside Government House here. Our electric rates are the highest in the WORLD. Yes, that’s right.
    And businesses are closing, people are doing a coin toss to pay utility bills or prescriptions.
    I came home, head weary from exasperation and anger and my husband looked at me and said- ” should we just kill ourselves now”? He is of course, kidding, and the eternal optimist.
    I said yes.
    He asked how.
    I said ,” by pie “, lots of pie “.

    So I’m right there with you sister on the cannoli train.

  4. Highest rates in the WORLD? My, my, MY! Yet another complication. Oi.
    Death by pie is not exactly Rilke but the suffering will be muted and if blueberry, your tongue will be already be blue. I am writing this while not watching THE debate. Can’t do it.

  5. another beautiful amazing picture Pat… why oh why isn’t my camera here yet???

  6. The symbology in your words with regards to how people handle and crave religion intentional? I’ll opt for the cannoli, it is the best comfort food in the world apart from Macaroni (but then they are similar species) AND left overs are microwavable unlike left over politicians, though…

  7. Amber, what kind of camera are you awaiting and why is it taking so long?

    SF: Thanks for pointing this out because it truly was not the religion symbology that was reassuring to me. And, as you know, I believe in the church of cannoli more than any other. Having said that, I should have made clearer that it was the high sided box pew itself and the historical and enduring symbol of the church that I was feeling and which was so pleasing for a few minutes. Plus, I could sit down!

  8. I thought as much but felt I needed to make sure – I also thought it could’ve been symbolic in the sense of false security given by churches with regards to this religion thing.

    Ah a seat is always nice, I hope they provided cushions, for some reason churches here never do. Naturally this is one of my biggest reasons for never stepping inside them.

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