Saturday, February 13, 2016

There were no circumstances

under which we'd ever have been in the same room.   

He apparently, was an icon of fashionable, and powerful, 
San Francisco society; 
an internationally known clothier and fashion designer 
touted in Women's Wear Daily 
and toasted in all the best restaurants and hot spots in town. 
 He had a multitude of famous friends. 
 He was, by all accounts, 
well respected, 
loved by many 
and the center of his own universe.
The suits in his stores, 
routinely sell for sums ranging from 
$5,000.00 - $17, 000.00.

My Kohl's card recoils at the very idea. 
Frankly, I hate to spend that much money on a CAR!

Clearly his customers didn't have jobs where children,
involuntarily, and often,
share their body fluids with you!

But just to prove that God has a sense of humor,
I ended up attending his funeral.

Trust me, it wasn't planned.
Since I hadn't known he existed, 
I had no idea he had sloughed off his earthly coil.

I had gone to the Cathedral to walk the labyrinth.
It's the same size and pattern of the labyrinth in Chartres, France 
 and, since I had walked that several years ago 
and had a powerful experience, 
I thought I'd spend an hour or so of my time in San Francisco 
taking in the sights, sounds and spirit of Grace Cathedral.

So I arrived - 
and, at first, didn't notice anything
 beyond a heavy police presence in the narthex.
(Or entryway, for those of you not of the Episcopal persuasion. 
We can't seem to help ourselves; 
if's there a fancy name for some common feature of our churches, 
we seem honor bound 
to throw a nod to Mother Church in England 
and use it!)

Then I noticed the cloying smell of massive banks of flowers.

Then I noticed chairs set up throughout the entire sanctuary,
rendering the labyrinth unusable.
Then I was noticed by one of the official 'greeters'
(a polite term for Episcopalian bouncers)
who quickly surmised 
from my Keen walkers, 
'mom' jeans
and Arc'teryx windbreaker 
that I wasn't one of the beautiful people they were expecting 
for such an august occasion.

She made a beeline in my direction, asking if I needed help  -
in a tone which implied that, in her mind, 
I was clearly beyond all help.

While my New Jersey roots rose up and almost led me to reply "Bite me",
decades of living among the good people in the Midwest came to my rescue
and I simply replied that I had been hoping to walk the labyrinth.

She intoned, Clearly you can see we're preparing for the funeral 
I took a guess - Oh, did a police officer get killed? 
(People who die serving others are MY idea of important people.)

No, she said, they're merely here to protect 
all the politicians, celebrities and dignitaries 
who are expected to honor Wilkes Bashford.
 Surely, even you've heard of him?

Looking like a deer in the headlights,
yet strangely reluctant to add a chaser of disappointment to her cup of disdain, 
I shook my head No.

The conversation picked up speed as it headed south.

"Where are you from?" she asked
(The implication being Mars).

"The Diocese of Missouri".

Well, you know this is an Anglican church.
 Yes, I know. I'm Anglican too.
(And, Sister, I can recite all the services in the Book of Common Prayer by heart - 
even with this piece of invisible straw 
you apparently can see hanging out the corner of my mouth.)

I only said that, she stated, because there are so many  - 
she paused and lowered her voice
for dramatic effect - 

Yes, I know; I work with many of them. 
But there are also Episcopalians, Baptists, Muslims, 
Jews, Lutherans and Presbyterians. 
Surely you even have them in San Francisco?

I was dismissed.
She informed me I could look around all I'd like "for 15 more minutes". 
She then suggested I come back another day that was 'less busy'.
Not surprisingly, she didn't invite me to stay for the service. 

On that score, 
she was safe,
I had no intention of adding ruination to her day
 or mine.

Hours later, relating my experience to my San Franciscan friend, 
she hooted and said I should have stayed for his funeral. 

But I'm a realist.
I've walked enough labyrinths to appreciate that 
while we're all on the same metaphorical journey in this lifetime
 - with one way in (Birth) and one way out (Death) - 
the reality is that many paths simply do NOT intersect.

There were NO circumstances under which we'd ever have been in the same room.

I can't speak for Wilkes,
but I'm OK with that!
Although you do have to love a man that loves his dogs!

Let's see:
Loves dogs

Maybe we'd have more in common 
than either of us would have thought.

We'll never know.

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