Monday, March 5, 2018

Lent: Forty Images for Meditation


I cleaned the bathroom this past Saturday morning.

I had recently been cataloguing floorboard corners and porcelain rims in need of attention. When there is no time for Soft Scrub and Pine Sol before the daily coffee and toast and six o'clock departure, the resolution grows not to let another weekend go by without an hour dedicated to household tasks. Sometimes it means making a trip to Target and restocking all the disinfectants that Lysol markets for toilet bowls and tubs.

Twenty-four hours later I am sitting with Jim in the fourth pew of Trinity Church in Copley Square. Our preference is a quiet service that starts at 7:45. Unlike worship later in the day, there is no music, no organ; no choristers sing the antiphons. On the other hand, there is always a polished reflection on the Sunday’s readings, a psalm to join in reading with the celebrant, a collect and intercessions from the Book of Common Prayer, needlepoint cushions on which to kneel at the communion rail.

It is a privilege to spend unhurried time in a church that the American Institute of Architects includes among the “Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States.” Beyond murals and stained glass by John LaFarge and Edward Burne-Jones, the labors of countless nineteenth-century artisans recall the interiors of a Venice from long ago. The most prominent color on the walls as the building was planned and decorated by architect H.H. Richardson is suitably called Venetian Red.

In our Dorchester home, the prominent downstairs colors are Shaker Beige and Chestertown Buff. The paints were selected by a young couple from whom Jim purchased the house eight years ago. Those previous owners had taken the modest 1920’s single-family in hand, introducing Benjamin Moore colors, installing oak kitchen cabinets, and renovating to the standards of the local Home Depot. The basement work bench still has red linoleum tiles left over from a kitchen floor makeover.

No cherry wood, no granite counters, no recessed lighting. There is space in this mill-worker’s home, though, for the parlor piano that Jim bought when he lived in Illinois. Appropriately it had been the product of Chickering and Sons, a Boston-based piano manufacturing company. From time to time Jim takes out hymnals from what he calls his “Anabaptist farm boy” days; he takes his place at the piano bench and plays regulars by Fanny Crosby and other church composers about whom I must claim to know very little.

Our home, however, on those evenings takes on a mission feel.

Every day, every hour,
Let me feel Thy cleansing power;
May Thy tender love to me
Bind me closer, closer, Lord to Thee.

I feel in tune these days.