July 29, 2021


During the past year, I began watching Morning Prayer from Canterbury Cathedral on YouTube.  Cathedral Dean Robert Willis sits outdoors among a variety of trees, flowers, animals in the deanery garden. In addition to the liturgy, he mentions historic events that have taken place on that date.  It’s been very educational!

Today he mentioned three events connected with the date of July 29—and I seemed to have some slight connection to all three.  One was that 40 years ago today was the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  We got up early and several of Heather’s girlfriends joined us for tea and scones as we watched the exciting television coverage.  Everything seemed like a fairy tale—and of course, we learned later it was far from that.  Drama, separation, divorce, and her tragic death followed.  Everything seemed to change.

I have a set of commemorative crowns issued by the Royal Mint between 1953 and 1990, one of which is the one in the photo above—in honor of the Royal Wedding.

Dean Willis also mentioned that on this date in 1970, famous British conductor and cellist Sir John Barbirolli died in London.  I actually “met” Sir John Barbirolli at a small grocery store in Houston, Texas!  From 1960 to 1967, he took the position of chief conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and during those years, spent twelve weeks annually in Texas.  He and his wife had a penthouse apartment at the elegant Warwick Hotel near Rice University.  

The year after we married, we lived in an old apartment building a few blocks from the Warwick. The neighborhood grocery was too expensive for our budget but they had a weekly special on ground sirloin.  One afternoon I stopped in to buy some and in front of me at the meat counter was a short older man in a long black coat and velvet slippers.  He had a very fancy little dog on a leash and in his British accent, asked the butcher for some of the ground sirloin.  He was buying it for his dog!  We spoke briefly as he left and the butcher told me it was Sir John.  Nothing was too good for his dog—and we enjoyed our sirloin burgers, too!

The third reference for this date was that on July 29, 1905, Dag Hammarskjold was born. He was Swedish and the second Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1953 to 1961. He was only 48 when appointed to this role, the youngest person ever to do so. He provided outstanding leadership and worked tirelessly for peace until he was killed in a plane crash.  He was on the way to negotiate a cease-fire in the Congo crisis.  The exact cause of the crash had never been determined and there is evidence it was a deliberate plan to kill him.

A deeply spiritual man, he kept a diary from the age of 20 until shortly before his death.  He left a manuscript in his New York house with a letter to an associate giving his permission to publish it.   He said the writings concerned “my negotiations with myself–and with God.”  Translated from the Swedish, Markings was published in 1964.  

When I decided to make a career change, I did a brochure type resume—the cover had a quotation from Hammarskjold. I enjoy reading from Markings and admire his integrity, humility, and faith.  His short prayer in 1953 is a favorite from Markings. “For all that has been—Thanks! For all that shall be—Yes!”

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