Everyday, on my way home, I pass two buildings: a high school, and a Catholic Church.
The high school, lately remodelled and done up with some odd carvings of cellists and trumpeters in an angular, modern style, takes up a whole city block unto itself and is bordered along the front by a solid line of trees. Walking past the school around the time the students are being picked up after class gives me that disconcerting, if slight, feeling of age. “Oh my,” I think, as I study the kids who file into the front door, bags bumping against hips, heads down. They look awfully young, which makes me feel old, and then ridiculous, because by nobody’s standards but perhaps a high school sophomore’s is twenty-three old. But it’s a curious feeling nonetheless, and one that I have a full city block to ruminate upon.
Just before the Catholic church, however, is when my rumination is inevitably cut short, because it is here that the sections of pavement have shifted, leaving one slab a good inch or so higher than the other–perfect for tripping up a preoccupied pedestrian, which it inevitably does. Every single day.
The other day, in fact, I tripped over it with such force that my foot ached for half a block afterwards. Only a clever handful of times have I succeeded in noting the approaching hazard, identifying it, and lifting my foot free of harm’s way and thus avoiding disaster. The rest of the time I slam into it, stumble forward a few feet, right myself awkwardly and blush for a good long while as I imagine what the whole thing must have looked like from a passing car. This cheers me up a little, at least.
But then comes the church, which is big and beautiful, and though I am not Catholic, I am always drawn to this building–particularly the steeple, with its weathered green Cross, jutting dramatically into a clear blue sky. It’s lovely. The arched doorways, segmented by the bare branches of trees; the little garden with its statues of saints; the view of Mt. Baker through wrought iron fences–all these things make my heart go still for a small moment, particularly if I time it right and pass by when the bells are sounding. I get to feeling downright reverent.