The Cathedral & The Story of Ruth

My son Mason carried me to the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane this last Sunday morning. It was my first visit to a cathedral and I was absolutely delighted with every moment of my visit there.

The sheer enormity of the experience — visually, sensually, spiritually — was overwhelming. But it wasn’t that I found the worship service to be overwhelming — and I mean no offense to St. John’s, but the depth and breadth of Love I experience in community with the people of St. Timothy in Chehalis each week is a normal experience to me — but it was the building itself. The building is a monument of Love, and to experience its beauty, a beauty of such grand proportion, is. . .well, an enormous experience. And an experience I will never forget.

After the service, we were given a short tour of the building. (I’ll add more pictures at the end of this post.) At my favorite moment of the tour, our guide pointed to Naomi and Ruth and that’s when I emitted a loud gasp and clapped my hands delightedly — and yes, just like a child.

“I’m just reading about Ruth and Naomi!” I cried out, not that anyone else but me cared. But that’s me, a very loud and very open book of emotion!

And look at how they are depicted: Naomi seems as though she is saying, “Look at my wonderful daughter-in-law, Ruth! Isn’t she a strong and talented woman!” And Ruth, with her eyes humbly downcast, thoughtful, one hand supporting her burden, the other hand offering — a working, contemplative woman.

I’m reading through Joan Chittister’s The Story of Ruth: Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life. Slowly. One chapter at a time. It’s a lot for a woman like me to take in, and I’m sure I’m going to have to read it twice.

This morning I read this from the chapter “Independence,”  it has stuck with me all morning:

“Independence. . .is a woman’s claim to the kind of responsibility that makes her a contributing citizen of the world, a person with a mission, a lover of life, an agent in her own salvation, a wisdom figure in an unwise world, another image of God — all the things we are accustomed to finding in the men in our lives. Until a person is independent, real community is impossible. Where half the human race is not enable to be fully contributing members of the human community, only conformity, only sacrifice is possible. Independence gives a person a right to opt into the creation of community, not the responsibility to be used by the community for its own ends only. Independence, ironically, is the only true voucher we have to true interdependence.

-Joan Chittister, The Story of Ruth: Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life

My mother bought my groceries this week. I’m 48 years old, and my mother is having to buy my groceries. I’m not very independent. But I’m working on it, and I am very fortunate to have a support system around me that is willing to help me achieve that independence. (And up to four different, but tiny, paychecks from four different sources each month.)

But not many people in my situation have that kind of support. Ruth didn’t have that support. Sure, she had the moral support of Naomi, but Ruth had to do the work to feed herself and Naomi.

I want to work in service to my community. I want to work to make this world a better place. But it’s awfully hard to do that when you don’t have the means. When you can’t feed yourself, you can’t feed others.

“Independence is the road to the recognition of the God-self in the self. Out of it comes confidence and self-esteem, self-control and self-development, self-worth and self-awareness. And in the end, far, far more than self comes, good as that awareness may always be. In the end, from independence comes the right and obligation to be a God-gift to the world, to take my own place in it, to bear it up, to make it better, to do it well.”

-Joan Chittister, The Story of Ruth: Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life

Oh how I adore Sr. Joan!

Anyway, what a long, long post! Now, on to the pictures…

And look! They let me play the organ!

~ by Kimberly Mason on March 26, 2010.

4 Responses to “The Cathedral & The Story of Ruth”

  1. Beautiful space! I know that I have a job, but I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. When I consider changing jobs (to work closer to where I live) I can’t imagine what that job might look like. What are you thinking about as you work to be more independent? I know that we’re VERY different people, but that’s why I’d like to hear your thought process…

    Of course, deciding what we want & then that thing being available are two different things. Sigh.

  2. I adore gothic cathedral space. Adore it. Can’t get enough of it. It’s like music to my soul without making a sound. It takes me deep within and sends me soaring heavenward. It is rich, dark, cold love illuminated by holiness. I feel myself beginning to experience withdrawal…

  3. What a magnificent place. Thank you for the postcard Kim. It came in the mail today. I am glad that the cross went with you there and offered you even more comfort.

  4. Love, love, LOVE seeing you at the organ! And yes, I Love the light in cathedrals (except perhaps the Episcopal cathedral in Seattle…) And stained glass fills my soul…

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