Friday, December 22, 2006

A Year of Churches

I've been thinking about that "Why church?" question that I want to address in the new year, and I've taken a look back at where I've been this year. It's been rather an amazing twelve months. (Most of these images enlarge reasonably well with a click.)

December 24, 2005: The United Methodist Church to which we belonged for many years and where we still spend Christmas Eve. When the congregation raises its 500 candles at the close of the service, the sight from the balcony is awesome.

The Chapel of the Martyrs, Paris, July 7, 2006: I spent an hour in this place where St. Ignatius and his first companions made their first vows together, thereby creating the Society of Jesus. I was nearing the end of my year long Ignatian Retreat-in-Everyday-Life experience, and I count that as the most moving hour of my personal 2006.

St. Chappelle, Paris, July 7, 2006: We visited in the late afternoon and returned for a Vivaldi concert that night. Listening to The Four Seasons in St. Chapelle was the perfect ending to a moving day.

Chartres Cathedral, France, July 2006: I posted many of my Chartres images last summer. Each time I look at them, a different one captures my imagination. I've already noted that one of the things I love about a great cathedral is the way in which it incorporates everything. Look at all the different forms stone takes in this one corner on the south exterior!

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, July 2006: There are few experiences comparable to spending a day in the shadow of this extraordinary building. Of course, Notre Dame de Paris is awfully symmetrical, in contrast to the glorious conglomeration that constitutes Notre Dame de Chartres.

Iona Abbey, Scotland, July 2006: A completely different encounter with the sacred. From the Druids to the Celts to the Benedictines and Dominicans to the Calvinist Reformers to the Iona Community ~ we have all been there and it seems that we all still are.

Glasgow Cathedral, July 2006: Another day in the company of Catholics and Protestants, with an afternoon spent in a solitary walk around and through a cemetery full of Celtic crosses and Reformation proclamations. A rather exhausting place to be, actually, for someone whose idea about differences in belief is that we are called to handle them graciously and generously.

Ursuline Convent Chapel, southern Ohio, September 2006. I was there for a reunion with my boarding school classmates of 7th~9th grade. Who could have imagined the journey that I was beginning there, that sullen Protestant girl sitting in the pew and glaring at the priest through the endless Latin of pre-Vatican II masses?


Oddly, the one church of which I have no photographs at all is the one to which I belong and where I spend so much time! I'll have to rectify that situation this year, now that I have smashed the travel bank to smithereens.


Quotidian Grace said...

Beautiful pictures and post. What a lovely recap of your year in church! Merry Christmas!

Jan said...

Although it's June 2007, I love the pictures and your captions. Thank you so very much.