Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The National Cathedral: broken stones, metal netting, but still inspiring national house of prayer

Rose Window through the
netting; photo by Lori K. Richardson
WASHINGTON DC -- We haven't been to the National Cathedral since the earthquake in August shook the tops off the bell towers and rained stones inside. But we got there on Monday, not quite prepared for what we saw.

Scaffolds encircle the bell towers where the pinnacles fell to the ground, and two of the pinnacles are on the ground near the main doors. Inside, metal nets are stretched under the ceilings to catch falling masonry. The nets give the Cathedral a grim appearance and block sunlight from coming through the upper windows and making it to the nave below.

The usually stunning Creation Rose Window high above the nave is partially shaded by the netting beneath it, giving the window a dark, almost eerie look.

The damage will cost at least $15 million to repair, and the repairs will take years.

Still, the great Cathedral is great and it is inspiring even in its brokenness. We accompanied a bus full of St. Paul's parishioners to the Cathedral, and we were treated to a Holy Eucharist in the quire and then a 15 minute recital on the Skinner organ.

Cathedral organ keyboard;
photo by Ann Willms
St. Paul's also has a Skinner organ, but not quite this big. The organ at the National Cathedral has 10,647 pipes, making it the 6th largest such instrument in the world.

Next we were given a tour of the chapels, windows and the many architectural features. We stopped at the crypt of our own beloved Charles Perry, who as Provost, finished the construction of the Cathedral in 1990.

We also paused to admire the needlework on cushions in the chapels, many of which were done by Joy Perry, Charles' wife. The Perrys eventually retired in Charlottesville, and Charles died a year ago.

We remembered Charles in our prayers of the people at our Holy Eucharist.

Fallen pinnacles from the August quake;
photo by Lori K. Richardson
St. Paul's tour group;
photo by Ann Willms
Although our St. Paul's group spent the entire day at the National Cathedral, we left feeling we had barely seen it. There is much to see and experience in this national house of prayer, and it is worth many visits to come.

1 comment:

Megan Brett said...

The netting gives it the look of many of the churches and chapels I've seen in Europe.

Thanks for sharing your visit.