Saturday, November 15, 2008

Church hopping

I've mentioned that I can hear church bells from our apartment from the Greek Orthodox church on the west end of town, and that I also hear church bells as I walk from my car to my office at the other end of town (a three to six minute drive, depending on how I hit the traffic lights.)

You might recall the picture I posted the Catholic church towers in the snow fall. In that post I mused that I hoped to go inside the Cathedral some day.

Well, last Wednesday turned out to be the day.

I needed to hike up the block on a work related errand, and since I need to get some addtional exercise to clear my mind...I decided to cross the street and pop in on the Cathedral of the Madeleine on my break.

Yes, those are gargoyles peering out from the sides of the building.

Cheery little gargoyle, huh?
The church has a total of eight of them guarding from the four corners of the two towers.

(I managed to "borrow" this close up image from another blogger who was visiting from Texas...figured she wouldn't mind being neighborly to another ex patriot Texan...)

The front door is unlocked, but the one I entered wasn't the only one.

Doesn't it look cool?

I'd love to know why the two circles are designed to be different.
They must have some special meaning, don't you think?

Inside: oh wow. wow. wow. (said very quietly...)

A woman was kneeling in the aisle. I thought she was having a moment of reverence, but it turned out she was setting up a shot with her camera, and her head was bowed as she figured out her camera settings.

The church broke ground in 1899 and the Cathedral was completed 10 years later, at a cost that near broke the 3,000 Catholic congregants, although most of the funding came from wealthy local mining operators.

I thought I recognized the art style as coming from that decade. It is so similar to the cover art of books published during that time.

The big window that graces the front of the church as view on the outside seemed rather minor compared to the organ pipes.
I found it very comforting to see the Scriptures written out.

I miss seeing that touch in modern churches.

I sure wish my camera did better with the far away shots...
And that I had taken a picture of the baptistry in the entrance. It was deep enough to submerge an adult...and I had always thought Catholics were only into the sprinkle baptism.

The Cathedral was lovely, even on a rather ordinary Wednesday early afternoon.
And while I am not Catholic, our shared scriptures and foundational faith was evidenced in the art and beauty of the place.

Well worth the walk, and I'm sure I will drop by to reflect upon the images on occasion there again.
(Probably when I have visiting friends with better camera than I have!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What soothes, what breaks

The sound of a rushing stream burbling over rocks sedates and calms me.
Watching the water's shimmer, scanning the edge for dragonflies and flowers refreshes my mind.
Beside such dappled waters I find peace, and joy, restoration and strength.

There are plenty of such streams flowing through the mountains that surround the city where I now live.

Dropping by an open house, I was surprised to see this unexpected stream bed just outside the kitchen window.

I went outside and stood on the deck of the house watching the graceful river run into a quiet pond beneath me.

I felt all the pressures of my life melt away.

With the home owner's permission, I sat for awhile and marveled at its design, became relaxed and became renewed.

The house itself was marvelous both inside and out.
(You can see all of it by clicking on the picture tab rather than the video tab on the highlighted linked word house above.)

Every inch of the almost 4,000 square foot home had recently been remodeled to perfection.
And home owner shared that the landscaping alone had cost $100,000.

"How much did the stream bed cost?" I quickly asked.
She didn't know; the cost was included in the entire landscaping project.

We could afford the house, with some really tight budgeting.
What we couldn't afford is the upkeep on such a place over the long haul.

"You wouldn't need to use the basement" the real estate agent offered.
(The basement was as elegant as any luxury hotel that you have ever visited...with a second kitchen, living room and deck...)

We pondered the possibility of buying the place, and renting out the basement to another family.
And yet we still felt a check against encumbering ourselves with so much space.

It was such a beautiful home.
We found ourselves lingering, mesmerized by the relaxing stream.

"If I may ask, why are you selling it?"
"The house was my husband's parent's. After we got it, we spent six years remodeling it. We had six children living with us here. It is too large now."

I told her that I too was an empty nester. And that it was too large for me as well.

I looked around the elegant marble countered kitchen overlooking the stream, the beautiful dining room with chairs for eight at the table, and the beckoning stone fireplace just beyond.

It was all too easy to imagine cozy evenings, bright mornings, and holiday gatherings with family and friends.

Then she added wistfully: "My husband is divorcing me. I love this house, but now it must be sold."

I looked into her empty eyes, and told her how sorry I was that that was happening to her.

I told her I would pray that she would soon find a place that would sooth her heart, and allow her to feel a peace again.

Outside the sound of the stream continued, and the sunshine through the autumn hued trees turned the garden grounds golden and bright. Nothing more could be more appealing. Nothing could be more soothing.

And yet there was a sadness that clung in our hearts as we bade her farewell and walked away from a house that had seemed to me to be a place like paradise.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Blues

First off, let me say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who offered advice for driving and living in snow. It was so interesting to get tips from as far away as Sweden, and as close as right here in SLC.
If any other tips come to mind later, just add them in on what ever post is up. I'll take all the help I can get!

Right now it is sunny outside, and the sky is quite blue, as are the mountains in the distance.

Some times blue is a lovely color. I myself am fond of the aqua shades of blue, the shade of blue that graces these lamps. They matched the carpeting in the house perfectly.

I just can't decide if I think the lamps are horrid, or very cool retro. One moment I like them, the next I don't.

That is pretty much how my whole life is right now...I seem to be unable to get a handle on much of anything.

And because of that, I find myself sinking into the blues.

Stress will do that to you. Even if you think you are just hunky dory, even though you pray and have faith, having so much change going on messes with your mind and emotions.

Making decision about anything becomes almost impossible. Buying a down coat, a house, a kind of cat food...all of it starts becoming very difficult.

As to the lamps, whether I do or don't like them doesn't really matter; the house they hung in was a serious no, and the over head lamps were not enough to make up for the rest.

This blue building is a good example of what life is like for me right now.

I stare at it, and think "Why did they build such a skinny high rise? That just doesn't make sense. I like that it is such a pretty shade of blue though."

Later I look at it again, and realize that actually the building is a triangle shape. Just going a few blocks towards it allows the rest of the building to come into view.

And then it also become apparent that the building isn't blue at at.

It is glass; and blue is just the reflection of the sky.

My mom remembers swimming off the Saltaire Palace as a child. I hear the building is still standing, but in terrible condition. I have to wonder why such a beautiful structure would not have been preserved.

The picture illustrates another enigma: The swimmers actually don't concern themselves with sinking; instead they struggle to push their feet down enough so that they can walk out of the water! Floating actually becomes an issue.

So confusing to think about.

This beautiful building...with a buffalo head for adornment. Curious. Why a buffalo head? Did they sell buffalo? What did the buffalo mean?

I don't know.

I do know the building was there when my grandfather lived here.
Today would have been his 104th birthday.
Today marks the 33 year since he left us.
Today we would have celebrated his service in WWI.
Three events to consider, each embedded on one calendar day. is confusing.
And I find myself teary again.
Sometimes I think the opposite of blue is gold.
Like this huge and bright, powerful and strong.
It once led into a bank.
(You can still see the night deposit opening on the side of the building to the right)
I can imagine how secure people must have felt opening that door, and depositing their cash.
But what did that door look like to those people during the bank runs of the Great Depression?
Today it is the door to an architecture and engineering firm.
(Their sign is painted on one of the building's side windows.)
The banking hours are still engraved on the gold door though.
Unless you turned the corner and read the sign, you would never guess it wasn't actually a bank.

So here is how that skinny building looks from another view. How could anyone possibly know this just by looking at it from the first picture?

The building doesn't just disappear into the distance either.
It is there, and real.
You just have to be in the right place to get the right perspective to have it all make sense.
That's what I keep telling myself about all this house hunting and mind changing and government changing and all the other changing going on in my life.
Eventually...all this will have come merely to pass.
The confusion will pass...
Eventually all this will make sense.
Eventually blue will just be a color again.