Have you ever felt like everyone was looking at you, and you didn’t know why? That’s what happened to Coy and me in Stratford-upon-Avon. Every day while we were there, we found ourselves stopping along the River Avon at a spot directly across from Holy Trinity Church. If you didn’t know, Holy Trinity was William Shakespeare’s church, but the church was old even before Shakespeare attended. The building was built in 1210, but there are records of a church at that site, going back to 845 AD! Incredible!

From the river, the view was perfect, and the first few days of our stay it was quiet and peaceful. Things changed on the weekend when a carnival came to town and set-up in the public grounds behind us. The carnival music did drown out the birdsong, but it was still a lovely view.

Another product of the weekend was more tourists. The shops got busier and so did the river. While we sat on the park bench talking and looking at the church, tour boats would go by, filled with phones & cameras poised to capture the perfect shot.

And they kept aiming at us. At first, we waved and laughed, thinking that they were being funny, but then we realized that they were unaware of the spectacular scene on the other bank. Half the people in a tour boat were floating down the River Avon, and instead of looking to their right at the gorgeous, historic church, they were snapping pictures of two middle-aged Americans on their left.

What in the world? Coy gestured to get them to turn around, but few did. We didn’t understand. What was so interesting about us?

Of course, it wasn’t us, it was behind us. The carnival. The flashing lights and the loud music were very effective in drawing the attention away from the eight-centuries-old church sitting in quiet dignity. Could they really find a temporary diversion that would be dismantled and packed away by Monday more interesting than a church that had weathered the better part of a millennium? Tragic.

But more than likely, the choice was made without thought. The urgency of barker’s call kept them distracted just long enough that the opening in the trees was passed, and they missed a glimpse of sublime beauty. Maybe the carnival was the picture they wanted, but I can’t help but pity those who looked back too late at the steeple rising above the trees and wondered at what they missed.

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