St. Nicholas Cathedral, Washington D.C.
So, I just got back from a pilgrimage with my church to D.C. (Quick tangent: of all D.C. has to offer, why is Duke Ellington on its quarter?) I haven't seen the tombs of any saints, as in a traditional pilgrimage, but I have come back glad to be an Episcopalian. Here's why.
Yeah, I don't know what that means either.
Basically, the purpose of the trip was to expose ourselves other faiths and places of worship. Working backwards in the order visited, the above excerpt is from one of St. Nicholas's church programs. St. Nicholas is a Russian Orthodox church, and the entire service was in Russian! (Or Slavonic, says the program; I won't pretend to know much about these languages.) They're into incense, candles, icons that you're supposed to kiss, and crossing your self while bowing about a bajillion times. Even if I did understand the service, I still don't think I would feel at home there. People came and went throughout the service, and the priest didn't address the congregation for most of the time we attended. And most importantly, Orthodox churches put a lot of emphasis on God's transcendence and divinity, and not so much on Jesus's humanity. I like some balance there.
The previous evening, we went to a Catholic service. Episcopalians are sort of like Catholic-Protestants, so this wasn't so different. I did find out that I don't like airplane hangar-sized churches, though. In the morning, we went to the National Cathedral, which took almost a century to build and has beautiful stained glass windows. Before that, we visited a mosque, wore hijabs (I can explain--whether or not you're a Muslim, women have to cover their heads in a mosque), and did not get to talk to an imam. That makes this the second time my attempt to understand Islam has been foiled, the first being at TIP.
Work it, Stephanie.
Our synagogue experience was pretty neat; the reform service was nice and easy on us Hebrew-lacking Episcopalians. There was a pretty unorthodox thing going on that night--interpretive dance. Overall, I was pretty comfortable and at home there, except for the no Jesus part. Oh, and small children wearing yarmulkes are adorable.
Etymology tie-in for the night: The word "pilgrim" comes from the Latin "peregrinus" for "foreigner," from peregre, "from abroad." Dunno, I guess peregrine falcons are foreigners to the ground? And then there's Peregrine Took, or Took from abroad. (Fool of a Took!) For more information, click here.