Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pictures from church: compare and contrast

For years I've loved photography, especially being able to take pictures of people, delighting in compositions of contrasts. It appeals to me no doubt because I identify as the observer and outsider in so much of life. Of course, shooting pictures in church is not exactly something you can do without being offensively intrusive. But I thought I'd paint you a word-picture of the patterns I saw at church today, which I found delightful in their variations. I wish I could have photographed them with more than mental images.

The first people we saw this morning were an elderly gay couple holding hands as they walked across the street into the Cathedral. One partner is more frail than the other, and the more robust one draped his arm along the pew against his spouse's back. I contrasted this with a father and son, around 12, sitting a few rows in front. The dad also draped his arm protectively along the pew to hold his son near. Another contrast across the aisle, where a pair of younger gay men sat, robust and vigorous with the complacency of good health.

Pleased with that little pattern, I noticed an elderly white woman across the aisle from us, dressed beautifully and carefully made up. Right next to her was a beautiful young African American woman, with her hair cut into a Mohawk (even to the sides of her head shaved), stylishly dressed though in a completely different idiom to her neighbor. And in contrast to both of these, I spotted a man with long blond hair, an earring, and a stubbly chin, wearing a worn flannel shirt and converse sneakers. Completing the variations of sartorial intent, one of the little girls in the children's procession wore sequined pink shoes that sparkled with each step under her pink-and black tights.

A young man a few rows behind, flanked by his parents though a head taller than both. When his father turned, I could see as in a time machine what the young man will look like in 40 years.

Getting the pattern? i noticed a lame man walk to Communion, stiffly swinging his leg, and contrasted him with the child I observed returning from Communion with a little skip to her step. A tall man dressing completely in black contrasted with a man in a cheerful Hawai'ian shirt. A young woman accompanying her grandmother to the rail contrasted with a young father holding his infant.

It's a large congregation, so I could only get a few mental snapshots of the attendees. From neat sport jackets to blue jeans and sweatshirts, from white to Asian to African American, from children to grandparents, straights, gays, and transgender, lots of contrasts to draw in that community, which despite its contrasts, all manage to come together every Sunday. (Let's just say the Peace is pretty enthusiastic). Would the other communities to which I belong be equally unified!


Jane Ellen+ said...

...and of such is the Kingdom of God.

Ann said...

Thanks - did you see Jesus on a surf board in the stained glass window at the back?

The Werewolf Prophet said...

I would sooooo love to attend a church like that! Please tell me where it is, even if by email!

Lovely diary, IT, and wonderfully evocative images.

IT said...

No problem Wolfie. It's St Paul's Cathedral, San Diego. You'd be welcome any time. After all they welcome even me!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Very nice ;=)

Now, spread it!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lovely mental snapshots, IT. I felt almost as though I was looking at the people in the congregation myself.