Thursday, April 4, 2013

Calm and intelligent

Out of the hotel and up the hill to the cathedral for an Easter baptism. En route the deep blue ceanothus in full bloom. The size and colour of the trees eliciting exclamations of amazement from these two middle aged gardeners. 

We get to the summit early. Not just  a few minutes early but the better part of an hour early. The church just stirring into life but for now quiet and peaceful in the morning sun. They've hung twenty miles - twenty miles ! - of green and blue ribbon from the ceiling. The ribbons  sway and jig and dance in the breeze, changing colour with the light.

Half an hour before the service and the nave is suddenly beyond packed ; thronged. Ushers trying, unsuccessfully, to keep the aisles and doorways clear. Grandmothers in salmon pink suits and black broad brimmed hats, teenage sons in sensible two sizes too big '' he's rocketing up '' blazers, a Nobel prize winner from Stanford, a seven foot tall NBA player, hundreds of young , twenty something , couples of every hue and unorthodoxy - this after all is San Francisco. When the organ starts up the ribbons shimmy into life.

Twenty two babies to be baptized this morning by the dean - a woman of gentle demeanour but ferocious intellect . Sanaz and Ayana and Cuiya joining more established Episcopalian names like Nicholas and Charlie on the order of service . Then the closing words '' But looking up , at dawn, they saw the great stone rolled away, and a light more dazzling than the day " ( strange how some baptismal sentences have a natural scan and beauty ) , the organ thunders, the babies gurrgle, people laugh, the doors are flung open and the crowds spill out. 

Angus can't help but wonder what change fearing cathedrals in England would do to have a calm and intelligent congregation like this filling the building , the youthful overflow eddying down the steps and into the park beyond.


  1. How beautiful that must have been.

  2. Magnificent.
    The ribbons!
    Enjoy yourselves on the West Coast!
    It's freezing here!

  3. I got goosebumps thinking of the stone rolled away, the beautiful cathedral and the baptisms. I admire ceanothus and have planted them, and your photos are pretty.

  4. Love the ribbons. We thought it was light. Scenery looks very different to the little village.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  5. What a lovely Easter baptism service....loved the interior decor of the cathedral with 20 miles of ribbons...simple yet beautiful.
    Glad you posted to keep us updated on your fun holiday.
    See you back at the ROF soon.

  6. Catching up here in the Pacific NW! 'Buubb' and Sophie looking sweet and ready for their new home?
    Sanaz and Ayana, a fad or shall we rejoice we have new converts? Still 22 christenings, what a beautiful sight to witness!
    Have a safe trip home,

  7. Blue plants always amaze me, as does your cathedral picture.

  8. The pictures are incredibly beautiful! What a sight it must have been in real life!