Lectio Cathedral

It’s funny what gets into you.

Looking through some old writing, I realized that it was four years ago this week that I attended a retreat at the Cathedral College of Preachers, on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral. I’m going on retreat next week (more on that in another post) and I think there’s something about this time of year that compels me into that reflective space.

The retreat leader was a semi-famous author of books on Benedictine spirituality. Actually, the retreat itself was just so-so. I didn’t get a lot out of the presentations, though clearly this person had her groupies that hung on her every word.

What made this retreat so special and really redeemed the time is that I stayed downtown instead of commuting back and forth, as I’d done every time before for programs at the College. Many of us affectionately called the dormitory Hogwarts. It was a grand old space and it grieves me that it’s now closed.

A highlight of the week was visiting the Cathedral after dark, just the dozen or so of us. I wrote this in response.

—————

Lectio Cathedral

through a welsh drawl we are told:

a cathedral

is both a protest and a proclamation.
a gymnasium for the imagination.
frozen music.
a place of clarity, not certainty.
an egg, a nest, a house, a country, a universe.

all i know is, last night
i thought it an ark:
bleached planks, cross pieces,
it locked us inside itself—

no, i mean to say
it swallowed us whole.
over my head, i beheld stiff ribs, pearled vertebrae,
and along each side, gills of glass, dark slits
that filtered the murky deep.

it was no ark
because i heard a chord of
perpetual breathing,
humming through its lungs;

i know that it lived
because it sang to me.

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4 thoughts on “Lectio Cathedral

  1. Jan E. Lorah says:

    WOW! I can feel it, MaryAnn. What a wonderful description of the National Cathedral. I, too, have experienced the “breath” of a cathedral — when singing Benjamin Britt in a cathedral in Germany… and enjoying the playfulness of the cathedral as it echoed back and created a fugue in places Britt never imagined! It was fun and frustrating, and made me smile. Cathedrals are, indeed, holy ground.

  2. sko3 says:

    hey, I was there, too!

  3. ocksblog says:

    interesting view of the cathedral, I like the images you saw and then conjured in this poem

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