There are many homeless people in Seattle and they hang around the cathedral because there they find shelter and food. As we were walking into mass yesterday morning a man, obviously a mentally ill vagrant, was walking in with us. Besides the bags of his earthly wealth carried under his arm, he was wearing jeans with a woman's dress over them. His face was caked with women's makeup, his eyes smeared with eyeliner making him look somewhat like a raccoon.
I was going to mass with a mentally ill, cross dressing, homeless man. Something I had never been exposed to in other churches. He sat down on a wooden chair, and the magnificent organ began the prelude. The choir began its glorious praise to God and I felt so wonderfully small and insignificant amongst the beauty of the sound and the high ceilings full of stained-glass windows and golden pillars.
In the Catholic Cathedral we are reminded that beauty draws us to worship the creator of beauty. We are brought into a building of unparalleled breathtaking magnificence in Washington State. The sounds bouncing off the ceilings so high I have to put on my glasses to see any details way up there. I find a God there who wants to bring us into the opulent, lavish grace of His presence. It is a taste of heaven.
And there also I find the darkest depths of sadness in the eyes of the lonely comic looking man. In one moment heaven and hell stand in the same room. I am reminded by this paradox, this strange scene that in Catholicism we are living in the Kingdom of God and also, not yet.......