My friend Darren Main, the yogi who leads the phenomenal Yoga on the Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral, sent me this picture post from Facebook and said it was intense. Like Darren, I am grateful for the awareness that led to this post.
What I’d like to suggest that the devotion of people who gather in Grace Cathedral is an energy that is the opposite of ignoring. To ignore is to refrain from noticing. The gatherings at Grace Cathedral have the focus of engaging and noticing, standing with and solidarity.
Let me give you an example. There was a funeral in Grace Cathedral just a week ago that drew nearly 1,000 people. Not many 80+ year old people can fill the cathedral with their friends and well-wishers. Many of these people were powerful, wealthy, and all were well dressed. The emotion-filled, tearful eulogy, however, held the key for why they really turned up. In her remarks, Attorney General Kamala Harris related that she used to have a regular lunch date at Le Central with Wilkes Bashford, the man whose life we were memorializing.
The lunches with Kamala, as with others, were filled with laughter, good food, and friendship. During one of these get-togethers, however, Wilkes asked Kamala to come to a meeting of a board he wanted her to support. What she walked into was a gathering of women who had been victims of domestic violence, survivors who banded together with supporters to provide safety for other women, to bring healing, to raise awareness. Wilkes was devoted to this cause, among several other beautiful ones, all of which had to do with shielding the vulnerable.
Not only the Attorney General’s eulogy but every other one we heard that day pointed to the compassion, kindness, and love that was the hallmark of Wilkes’ life. The gathering in Grace Cathedral was a remembering, and an inspiration. We were being prepared to go forth and do the same.
Yoga on the Labyrinth, Wilkes Bashford’s funeral, Sunday services – the cathedral is a crucible of compassion. We go in sort of ordinary, and we go forth strengthened and transformed.