Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

Yesterday, I found myself leaving the emergency room of St. Luke's Hospital. I had developed a "subconjunctival hemorrhage" and a slight amount of "petechiae". This is a fancy way of saying a very small blood vessel popped in my left eye and I had a few tiny red freckles around both of my eyes. I was panicked that I was experiencing the beginning of a very serious medical condition. Turns out that all of my blood work and diagnostic tests came back completely normal. I'll just look a little weird for a week or so.

I called my mom to update her and let her know that nothing was seriously wrong with me. I wandered down the street, into the children's sculpture garden of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. As I was explaining to my mom that I was just fine, I found myself tearing up. Maybe they were tears of relief, or fear, or maybe it was frustration with the week I had just finished. Over the past few days I have discovered many more of my friends have lost their jobs. I'm beginning to wonder how I've been so fortunate to escape that situation in this economy. I work very hard, though not any harder than my friends who have been let go from their positions. I'm beginning to think that luck has a lot to do with it.

I sat in that sculpture garden for about 20 minutes and had a good cry. The sun had come out, the wind was blowing, and I felt lost. I'm worried about the uncertainty we're all facing, despite the fact that I have managed uncertainty so many times before. I feel like the ground is shifting beneath our economy, and there is no sign of it settling down any time soon. I was angry for my friends who have been let go from their jobs - hard working, talented people who were seen as a line item on a company's excel spreadsheet, an expense rather than a resource and an investment. I felt shaken.

I had never really looked at that giant sculpture next to Saint John the Divine. It's a collaborative piece of work based on Noah's Ark and the triumph of good over evil. The Cathedral has been closed for some time for renovations and recently re-opened. I was weary from my hospital visit though felt drawn into that incredible cathedral. I wandered in and it was nearly empty. The choir was practicing and I felt drawn to sit in the center of the space, letting that beautiful music wrap around me like a warm hug. Though I am not a religious person, I felt that God was very close to me at that moment, that he knew what I was going through, and wanted to help.

I let my eyes tear up again, I was cemented to that seat, transfixed by the music. After a little while I got up and walked around the edge of the cathedral, stopping to look at each of the small chapels. The light shone through them so brilliantly. I had never seen stained glass that colorful and perfect. By the time the choir stopped, I got to The Poet's Corner, a small area that pays tributes to literary greats such as Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and Gertrude Stein. They each had their names and birth date engraved into a stone, along with a quote they famously wrote.

One quote particularly caught my attention. Theodore Roethke said, "I learn by going where I have to go." I thought about this quote all the way home. It reminded me that I have places I need to be, where I've committed to be, and there are things for me to learn there and to take somewhere else. Today, I just need to do what I have to do. The acts of hope and faith are a daily process. Just keep showing up.

The image above can be found here.


runner52 said...

I've been to the same place, both physically and emotionally, at St. John the Divine. As my father always said, "things work out for the best"..your friends will bounce back, and you will do well..I'm glad you write

Christa said...

Thanks, runner52. The writing helps. And I agree with your dad - this will all work out somehow.