Monday, February 8, 2010

A visit to Trinity Cathedral, Portland

This weekend BP and I visited family in Portland Oregon. We had a great time, staying downtown in the very funky Ace Hotel, and riding the MAX train everywhere. What a cool city. We could definitely live there (of course we'd have to switch our identity from desert rats to rain forest bats).

Generally when we travel, we find ourselves attending local parish churches, as you've read before. However, since we were downtown, we decided to visit Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Sunday, and compare it to our home Cathedral, St Paul's in San Diego.

Trinity is an imposing building (or rather complex of buildings) in dark stone. The cheery cherry red doors are a welcome dash of color under the grey Northwest sky. Inside the Cathedral is huge! It's a big, open space, quite in contrast to the narrow, neo-Gothic style of St Paul's, San Diego. Trinity's interior is painted in a pale cappuccino color that picked up a warm tone from the lighting and candles. We particularly appreciated the red cushions on the pews! :-) The choir was also large, and very good, though we were a bit disappointed that they sang few pieces alone, but mostly sang with the congregation. We also missed the St Paul's thurifer, who can swing a mean thurible (BP and I share an affection for incense both at home and at church). But those are minor differences, and we found it a wonderful and welcoming place.

The space was pretty full. We figured around 200 people were there , and noticed that they were (A) much better dressed than we were and (B) mostly older than we are. The reason for this was explained by the Dean, who was presiding, and who told us during the announcements that a "family service" was being held simultaneously in the church hall where about 180 kids and parents were located. All I can say is, wow. That place must be totally packed to the gills on a "normal" Sunday! It has an associated school, too.

A real treat was the sermon, which was preached by Rev Canon Marianne Borg, who is on staff there. She is Marcus Borg's wife, and we had heard from our own Dean about her . She is an outstanding preacher, very animated and alive in voice, with a warm approachability. She began with the reminder that all are made "very good". From there, she went to the different ways of knowing: head of course, but also heart and gut. One message (ironic, she acknowledged, given she is married to a noted intellectual) was to "remember" other instinctual ways of knowing and feeling. She told a sweet story:
A young couple had a second child and brought him home from the hospital. After a few days, their 4 year old daughter asked for a few moments alone with her new baby brother. The parents did not think that sibling rivalry had set in, but cranked up the baby monitor to hear what happened in the nursery when the little girl went in by herself. They heard her approach the crib and a creak as she grasped the rails. "Please tell me about God," she asked the baby. "I've almost forgotten!"
Reminding the congregation that many have "almost forgotten", she concluded with an exhortation to leave one's comfort zone, to put out to deep water, and to let down the nets. Of course it was far richer and more complex than this précis, but I found it an interesting and, I admit, intellectually satisfying homily.

Everyone was very friendly at coffee, and we were able to speak to the Dean and to Rev Borg. We were entrusted with greetings to take home to San Diego, and left with good things to chew on and discuss over lunch.

Oh, I almost forgot. Trinity Cathedral has an excellent bookstore, where BP decided to invest in her own copy of the Book of Common Prayer. As we crossed through airport security on Monday, BP's bag was pulled off the line. "Do you have peanut butter or something like that in here?" asked the agent, as she opened the suitcase. Seems the BCP has suspicious qualities on the X-ray. Fortunately once it was identified and examined, it made the grade, but it clearly has unsuspected potentcy. So be careful how you travel!


David |Dah • veed| said...

Is it one of the small personal BCPs like mine with gilt edges? Maybe the gold looks funny on an x-ray.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

The red (I suppose darker) is the sign of Asylum granted (I weep as I type this), which is in reality the much vaunted Immunity of the church (today an evil). Glad you appreciated your visit north (as I remember from the film "Stand by me", just like ours, but bigger).

Elizabeth said...

I am glad you enjoyed Portland. My parents lived there for many years (in fact their ashes are there for eternity). Portland is a beautiful city. They have done much to make it very liveable. Do come back some time and enjoy some more of Portland.

it's margaret said...

desert rats to behind the ears, I think, is the term!

Travel safely, and, Welcome home!

James said...

"we decided to visit Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Sunday, and compare it to our home Cathedral, St Paul's in San Diego"

I love that "OUR HOME CATHEDRAL" bit. You are so one of us. :)

IT said...

Oh brother, if you only knew.... ;-)

james, it's really good to "hear" your voice. We've missed you! HOpe all's well with you and yours.

JCF said...

noticed that they were (A) much better dressed than we were

Yeah, that was my impression back when I was church-shopping in 1987! (Trinity was merely the largest parish in the diocese at that time). It failed JCF's "Jeans Test" (Do I feel comfortable worshipping on Sunday in blue jeans?), and I moved on (to St. Stephen's, which is about 2 miles away). Glad you liked it though, IT.

What a cool city. We could definitely live there. Abso-freakin-lutely: I hope I get to live there again!

[NB to IT: expect an email!]


[The BCP] clearly has unsuspected potentcy

So I've long believed. ;-)