‘Father Forgive’: Coventry Cathedral and my life's journey of discovery
- Kamran Mofid
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"Father Forgive": These two words which I discovered at the ruins of Coventry Cathedral in 1973 changed the course of my life.
This is the Story of a Boy from Iran who became a Man in Coventry
Photo: Anne Mofid
This is the story, “My Coventry Story”
Prof. Kamran Mofid
ST MICHAEL'S HOUSE, Coventry Cathedral,
11 PRIORY ROW CV1 5EX
7.00pm Wednesday 26 July 2017
My Story is My Witness: A Story of Hope, Suffering and Hope again
(With special thanks and gratitude to Revd Canon Dr. Sarah Hills, Coventry Cathedral’s Canon for Reconciliation Ministry, for her kind invitation. I also thank the Reconciliation Ministry Team at St. Michael’s House for their support.)
Prof. Mofid and Cannon Hills, St. Michael's House, Coventry Cathedral, 26 July 2017
Photo: Anne Moid
Dear Canon Hills, distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. Thank you very much Canon Hills for your very kind words of welcome. It is a great pleasure for me and for my wife, Annie, to be here tonight. I feel very nostalgic about this talk, returning to Coventry Cathedral, where my journey of discovery started all those years ago in November 1973.
Indeed, it is true, life is an incredible journey of discovery. There simply is no way to know everything that will happen in life before experiencing it.
The joy of finding the ‘Coventry Cathedral Story’ has been, as I will explain shortly, very highly motivational to me. There is no fun in life if we presume to know it all. It is this journey into the unknown and finding gems of truth along the way that makes life so interesting, worthwhile and meaningful.
Amongst the first few gems I discovered first was that:
We Are Here for the Sake of One Another and we need Hope, and we need storytelling and storytellers
This is why, I very much wish my story to be positive and be driven by hope, something that so sadly is missing, to a large extent, in this so-called modern, gadget-driven, fast- moving world.
The world needs hope; every person, everywhere, needs hope. HOPE gives us life. HOPE connects us. HOPE fuels us. HOPE moves us. HOPE keeps us. HOPE grounds us. HOPE protects us. HOPE anchors us.
As far back as the 6th century BC, the Greek poet Theognis of Megara said:
“Hope is the one good god remaining.” The poet Theo Dorgan reminds us that, hope is a profound act of imagination, the most important and the most neglected of the civic virtues. In the face of the present societal and global crises we can lie down in despair, or we can choose hope — which means placing all our faith in each other and in the boundless capacity of the imagination to reinvent circumstance, to establish new truths.
Moreover, ‘My Coventry Story’, I hope, represents me in a true and honest fashion. Therefore, tonight I am going to share a series of stories with you, personal and professional, covering the period from 1973 to this evening in 2017, 44 years of travelling, engaging the world, different peoples, cultures, civilisations, faith traditions, learning from each, becoming aware of the beauty, wisdom and necessity of dialogue and friendship in the interest of the common good.
Stories are very important as a true form of communication, reflection, meditation and engagement. In my case, they are also significant in what I am going to share with you this evening. They have formed and guided what I am, who I am and why I am.
“Storytelling has the capacity to touch our deepest emotions and it can allow us to peer at beauty. We glance at our own creativity and breathe our own thoughts. But more than that: Storytelling is also a wonderful path to set ourselves free, by opening our hearts to others and letting them in; becoming one with one another. Because, after all, as many have reminded us, the best way to know truth, wisdom or beauty is to try to express it and share it with others.”
I firmly believe that storytelling - opening our hearts to others - is instrumental in enhancing inclusion, social justice, cultural life, and improving physical and emotional health at the individual, local, national and international levels.
Moreover, storytelling nurtures both the young people and the older generation by providing a spiritual path to a meaningful and rewarding intergenerational dialogue, benefiting each group equally.
So now let me tell you a bit of my story: Let me open my heart to you.
There is so much that I can share with you. But in the interest of time, I need to fast track to November 1973, the day I visited Coventry Cathedral for the first time.
But, first let me recite you a beautiful poem, from a master teacher, the wise philosopher of love, the genius of Persia, Molana Jalaluddin Rumi:
The Story of My Life-Rumi
The Story of My Life | Allspirit
i was ready to tell
the story of my life
but the ripple of tears
and the agony of my heart
wouldn’t let me
i began to stutter
saying a word here and there
and all along i felt
as tender as a crystal
ready to be shattered
in this stormy sea
we call life
all the big ships
board by board
how can i survive
riding a lonely
with no oars
and no arms
my boat did finally break
by the waves
and i broke free
as i tied myself
to a single board
though the panic is gone
i am now offended
why should i be so helpless
rising with one wave
and falling with the next
i don’t know
if i am
while i exist
but i know for sure
when i am
i am not
when i am not
then i am
now how can i be
coming to life again
since in this world
i have many times
like my own imagination
been born again
that is why
after a long agonizing life
as a hunter
i finally let go and got
hunted down and became free
And Now, My Story, My Coventry Story