somewhere between heaven and hell

Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, California, October 31, 2010

This was a strange Halloween, in that I attended a baptism in the morning and handed out candy to trick-or-treaters in the evening.  Yesterday I learned from the church lady that Halloween and the Catholic church do not mix.  Witchcraft is satanic, sayeth the church lady, and Halloween is all about witchcraft.  
All I know is that I like Halloween.
I like hanging my big furry spider onto my Christmas lights over my jack-o-lanterns next to my plastic skeleton under the pirates hat on my front porch.
I also kinda liked being in church this morning, a place I haven’t visited regularly since 3rd grade.  And if you have to go to church, it might as well be Grace Cathedral.  The pungent smell of incense burning, I wanted more, and the haunting sound of the organ, so loud to fill that huge space and all our ears and hearts.  The chorus dressed all in white, gathered high up on the balcony, singing sweetly.  All those people lining up for a chunk of bread.  There must be something to it.
And get this.  My niece, Eva, who was baptized today, wore a gown that has been in her mother’s mother’s family since 1892.  It has been worn by at least 50 of her predecessors, including my fiance, Marty, 45 years ago, and his siblings, and cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, here and in Germany.  The dress has gone back and forth “across the pond” several times over the years.  It is white and long and flowing and handmade and simple and lovely and pristine.
Is that cool, or what?
I love it when you comment.

About Zahara

gardener, cyclist, student, mom,
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11 Responses to somewhere between heaven and hell

  1. Zahara: nice story about the baptismal gown; btw, halloween is anti-satanic….RT

    • Zahara says:

      Yeah, I don’t believe everything the church lady tells me. Meeting her was a trip, got me thinking more about the origins of Halloween. Turns out the blogosphere has lots of info on such things!

  2. (but of course you knew that) RT

  3. The baptismal gown. What a beautiful tradition especially in the time of the disintegration and dispersal of family ties. No one came around last night for candy. Caribbean minorities with 7th Day Adventist and Jehovah’s Witness dominate the area and no Halloween or Christmas decorations. In my townhouse condo complex of 10 buildings only 4 of us have lights each year. All the several posts of which I visit regularly were dominated by these Halloween themes. They have no idea how wonderful they have it to be living in America, so to speak. The neighborhoods change and all the old vets have gone or died off and Veterans Day or Memorial Day have little meaning here in Miami either. The Cuban community and the Jewish community seem to have a Cuba or Israel first mentality and voting here is pretty much along ethnic or racial lines. One thing in common is a sub Third World work ethic that leads the entire infrastructure to sub perform making anything that has to be done an arduous task of frustration.

  4. duckofindeed says:

    Halloween decorations are fun (I don’t actually put them up, but I still think they’re fun). I’ve heard of some evil things about Halloween, but what most do is just innocent fun. People shouldn’t take it so seriously.
    And that’s cool the gown has been worn by so many people.

    • Zahara says:

      I agree, duckofindeed. I have many happy childhood memories of Halloween. We lived in a big, friendly, safe neighborhood. Back when I was even more naive than I am now, I liked Halloween because it seemed to be unconnected to any particular religion. Like most holidays, I appreciate them because they create an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and they usually involve home-cooking, and that is a good thing in my book.

  5. TheIdiotSpeaketh says:

    1892? That is way cool! And Beautiful Church! I have a thing for classic Cathredrals!

    • Zahara says:

      Can you dig it? I was so impressed when my sister-in-law told me about the dress and then ran downstairs to get the list of all the people who were baptized in it. Single spaced, including the city they were from, it filled one and a quarter pages. Many from the Cologne area of Germany. Grace Cathedral is awe-inspiring, I’m sure you could see some great shots of it online. One funny thing, they have a Peet’s Coffee kiosk in the basement, just outside the gift shop!

  6. Great post. I love the way you described your decorations. Felt like I was there walking up to your door. Have a great day!

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