Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Keiskamma Altarpiece

The morning didn't start out well. The rain curbed my enthusiasm for our trip on the El to visit St. James Cathedral, and the total absence of hot water in the apartments didn't help matters (though I needed to remember that this was better than last fall's Plunge experience, during which my host family had NO water for a weekend).

So we rode: grumble, grumble. The El was late, so we wouldn't have time to find coffee before church. And (grumble, grumble) here I was spending my last free Sunday morning for the rest of my life (okay, maybe only the rest of the year) on a noisy El: damp, unwashed, and coffee-less. What a grouch I was.

But as usual, God showed up before we did, directing our eyes to the Keiskamma Altarpiece created by 120 South African women. This work of art weighs a ton and a half and expresses the hope of the human spirit in response to the AIDS epidemic. The altarpiece leaves on September 20, and it's worth seeing.

Then...the choir anthem was Palestrina's Sicut Cervus. My family can tell you that this is my very favorite choir anthem -- ever. Last fall, John and Noah and Sarah and I sang it as a quartet in the cloister outside Seabury's chapel when no one was in the building. I still get chills up my spine remembering how the sound bounced off the cloister walls.

Today's Eucharist energized us. It was great to be in church. We're ready to serve. Why did I waste time grumbling when there's work to do?


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