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Monday, July 20, 2009

Back to Reality - but not before a short side trip down memory lane

Well, and it was "hit the ground running" today.

Tonight is the first chance I've had to put the events of the last two weeks into perspective. Images are still emerging and thoughts are coming together.

I'll be writing more on this later, no doubt. Right now, I'm enjoying the memory of the one morning I played 'hookie' and went to The Getty in LA with two friends who were visiting from NY.

It was wonderful. What an amazing place!

There was a sacredness about it - the architecture, the reverence for the creative art in a variety of forms: sculpture, bronze, paint, landscape.

It was one way to hallow the gift of creativity and imagination that has its source in The Holy One.

It was just the right antidote to the craziness of the schedule of General Convention. But, we had no idea of the Balm in The City of Angels that was awaiting us.

This is the Roman Catholic Cathedral in LA. Interestingly enough, it's one of the top five tourist attractions in this amazing city.

I'm no fan of modern architecture, but this one had so much integrity, it was astounding. It is not hyperbole to say that I was awed.

Clearly, this is a holy, sacred place.

The above is a picture of the walk-in baptistry which was near the narthex.

There is a beautiful progression of a tapestry of saints - ancient and modern - which the artist created from photographs of 'real' people.

You can see the altar in the distance.

All around the walls were these angel sconces - all in various poses and with different facial expressions.

Some were dancing. Others were frowning. One was in a full belly-laugh. (The picture I took of it was too blurry to reproduce.)

I LOVED them - especially the one in full belly-laugh. I even went to the Gift Shop, specifically looking for him. Alas, none were on sale.

This is the Paschal Candle in front of the baptistry, with a picture on the back wall of Jesus being baptized.

I found it a very compelling rendition.

This is a reproduction which hung in one of the alcoves of the church. I sat before it and had a lovely meditation.

The altar is also very compelling. I couldn't get the shot I wanted - the one from the altar straight back to the baptistry. It was breathtaking to see the baptismal font and the picture of John the Baptist and Jesus.

Interestingly enough, there was no outward and visible sign of the Incarnation - no manger scene. Not even a statue of Blessed Mary. Not in the sanctuary, anyway.

I know. I know. It was a Roman Catholic Cathedral. Why didn't I go to "our" Cathedral? Because I wanted to see THIS Cathedral, is why.

Never mind. It was a wonderful couple of hours away from the church as institution to visit a sacred space for art and the church as holy space.

It's one memory I'll treasure whenever I remember the 'blur' of exhaustion and politics that was General Convention 2009.


Anonymous said...

WOW! Elizabeth, thank you for this wonderful venture to such a holy place. I could feel it in the emotions of your words. Great post!

Brian R said...

In 2007 my sister and I spent 24 hours in LA mainly to recover from the jetlag of the Pacific before travelling to New Orleans, we had both been to LA and did not really like it. We decided to visit the Getty and were wrapped. If I have to stopover again, I will put the RC cathedral on my itinerary.

walter said...

Dear Elizabeth,

I have not many words these challenging days, but I can say that I do love you.

Walter Vitale

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

I have always liked the chairs, in contrast to the pews w e have in most churches...

Movable, and light!

The picture of S:t John the Baptist with Christ is beautiful.

So is the procession of the Saints.

David@Montreal said...

WOW indeed Elizabeth
this is the second time I've seen pictures of this holy space
but never was it so awesome as when experienced through the benefit of your eyes and spirit Elizabeth.
thank-you. the rendering of Jesus' baptism is an image which will remain with me


Brother David said...

Just a note to those who might really ask the question, the Episcopal Diocese of LA does not really have a cathedral. Yes there is the "Cathedral Center" which is a parish church and the offices of the diocese. They have also designated another parish with a large building as the pro-cathedral, but they do not have a cathedral.

The LA RC cathedral is on my list as one to see. The other I wish to see is the new RC cathedral in Oakland, CA; The Cathedral of Christ the Light. There is a huge iconic Christ the Light behind the altar which is pinholes in sheets of steel with the light passing through.

Gracias a Dios, that you had one day to yourself with friends.

IT said...

I find the LA RC Cathedral rather cold, myself

But that may be me projecting. ;-)

it's margaret said...

Elizabeth --I am SOOO glad you got to see these places --and I truly agree about the Getty!

What a happy day!

(IT --I think it is cold when empty --it is the people that fill it with the color it needs... just thinking about that space....)

Fran said...

I love that Cathedral and have been there many times. The art director for that project, Father Richard Vosko, taught the first grad school class that I took in the fall. He is brilliant and much hated! As you might imagine. Me - I love the guy... and his work. That baptistery has his name all over it.

That procession of the saints made me weep the first time I saw it.

Glad you had this portion of the journey too. Sending lots of love and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Elizabeth, I have relied on your blog to inform my own thinking and to grace my own blog. I have quoted and linked to your story of the anointing of the workers in my own blog:

Theodora May said...

Elizabeth, beutiful cathedral. Looking at the pictures, I can tell that it is a holy space. One thought. You sounded a bit surprised at the lack of the Incarnation of Christ (Virgin Mary, etc.) I belive the Incarnation of Christ is present in the people gather to worship God. We are called to be the Incarntion of Christ.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks for the link, Obie.

Theodora May - I do, too. I was speaking specifically about statues of the BVM. There was a magnificent statue of Guadalupe in one of the little coves that surround the outside of the sanctuary which was simply lovely.