I have always loved cathedrals, with intricate stained glass work, symmetrically patterned ironwork, brilliant painted murals, and massive pipe organs. For me, they truly are divine.
As a boy, I attended a Roman Catholic grade school, which had its own Cathedral: Mount Saint Peter's Cathedral to be specific. Countless stained glass depictions of the saints adorn the windows, my favorite depicting St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. And the 12 stations of the cross, carved from wood with precision, border on the inner walls.
Constructed from the Andrew Mellon mansion in Pittsburgh, PA, (the church and school are located there also), it was mostly built from marble, with a marble hall below it. There is also a small chapel attached to the side of the cathedral where the prayer candles and the painstakingly carved wooden confessionals are located.
The altar is entirely made of exquisitely shaped ironwork: climbing, winding, and interweaving among marble columns, like sturdy grapevines culminating in a dome above. Also, the place reserved for the Chalice is a considerably sized, golden domed tabernacle, with a respectful amount of detail.
Finally, situated within the choir balcony in the rear of the cathedral lies an enormous pipe organ. I clearly recall that, as a child, the largest pipe matched the diameter of my head. I only have sung in the balcony choir on 2 or 3 occasions, but I would often gaze back at the gigantic pipe organ while attending mass in the wooden pews.
Although I have conflicted judgment of the time spent in Mount Saint Peter's Grade School, my memories of the Cathedral will forever be fond: my personal Cathedral of Learning.
"Oh me ! Oh life ! Of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish. Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless ?).
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d. Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me. Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined...
The question, O me. So sad, recurring--
What good amid these, O me, O life ?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you
may contribute a verse."
~ Walt Whitman
I swear we were love.
We, once immortals of moonlight's
glances. Now... I'm praying
Didn't we shine like bonfires
in autumn ? Wasn't our lust an
ever present wafting jasmine ?
And after each fall from grace
at the hands of a masked Adonis,
we would begin upon a promising
current, back out to an all
I am forlorn of any visit home,
for then the aching in my chest.
It knocks the wind out of my
lungs, ablaze with regretful gasps.
Still, I put a match to the
kindling of remembrance. And
didn't we shine like bonfires ?