I recently returned from a trip of a lifetime to England. I didn't hang out in London at all. Instead I spent nine days inspecting very rural southwestern England. The real England I'd like to think.
I experienced places of worship from pre-Druid through new Druid. I lit candles in some incredible cathedrals, wandered around 900 year old country churches, marveled at Stonehenge and Avebury Circle, meditated at the Temple of the Goddess, and read some Gospel at John Wesley's pulpit. And though technically not places of worship, I experienced more than a couple of tea rooms and a pub or two. And while you probably think those places didn't have much in common, I reckon they really do.
People like to congregate. The ancient Druids liked getting together at the huge, wondrous stone circles at certain times of the year. They drummed and danced, probably. The cemeteries at the old stone churches tell the story of generations of congregants who met there to sing and pray. The magnificent cathedrals with their elaborate carvings, acoustics and grand scale continue to provide places for people to perform grand ceremonies. And in Glastonbury, the Temple of the Goddess provides a place for people to gather and perform brand new ancient rituals.
You might think that the pubs are about cider and the tea rooms about tea and scones. But let's face it, you can drink cider and tea at home. Those places, too, are about congregating and rituals. All these places are about community getting together to wonder at miracles.
Surely the ancient people who somehow put Stonehenge together were in awe of the miracle of the celestial cycles. And people who visit Stonehenge are in awe of the mystery of how it was built. People lighting candles in the grandeur of the cathedrals wonder at the peace and grace they feel. Women in the Temple of the Goddess perform Blessing Ways for infants, marvelling at the miracle of new life. And the boys down at The Royal Oak lift their pints and laugh and wonder about the glue that holds people from all walks of life together, seemingly making psychotherapy obsolete.