Sunday, September 11, 2005

I step off the bus and travel back in time, before me lies an anachronistic structure reaching to the heavens: the Washington National Cathedral. I’m not a religious person; in fact I have no faith at all, but I am still awestruck by the manifestations of adoration. Mass is just letting out and confronted with droves of worshipers, garbed in their finest and ready to reenter the here-and-now, their religious fixes satisfied for another week.
I push through the herding flock and enter the massive building. In an instant I’m bathed with a host of colors streaming from the kaleidoscopic Rose Window overhead. The mysticism of the church strikes me even though I don’t connect with the faith. It really does feel as if I’ve entered another time completely; the building smells of –if such a smell is even possible- age, a mix of stone, stale air and reverence. The ceiling seems almost nonexistent; reaching so high I could imagine a cloud or two taking up residence in the cavernous structure. Renditions of the Crucifixion and Pieta, however hackneyed they may be outside the Church’s walls, are at home here. I’m compelled to leave a donation and light a prayer candle; the Cathedral, after all, had provided me with the morning’s folly. The air is so still I can track the small stream of smoke from my candle up until it reaches another stained-glass window, disappearing into the rainbow of color.
Before getting back onboard the bus I look back to the Cathedral and try again to take it in. Gothic nooks and crannies, flying buttresses and gargoyles loom above as a flock of pigeons zooms into a hidden nest within the building. I feel so insignificant next to a God I do not even believe exists, and I am unsettled by this realization. A shiver runs down my spine and I am compelled to leave; I need to reenter my time and state-of-mind before I get trapped here with God. I feel comfortable back on the bus, but it is nice to know that the middle Ages are only a short ride from my own life.


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5:41 PM  

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