I’m sitting in the Basilica Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, an immense building with ceilings as high as the sky. The feeling is white, with rich blues and purples, as well as 12-foot-high stained glass windows. They’re domed, and feature many views of Jesus and his disciples. Not one that I see shows two people looking into each other’s eyes, and I feel the loss of such contact. It’s what I treasure.
I just sneezed, and despite my sleeve, the sound echoes upwards. There are only four or five folks here potentially to be disturbed. It’s a lonely place, and for me an emotionally flat one.
High on the walls, four statues of the apostles seem to stand guard. I wonder what Matthew, Mark, Luke and John think of this sanctuary. I want a simpler church, far less ornate, one that feels good for a face-to-face meeting. Just a few pews, please, and a simple cross at the front.
Yesterday’s circle of musicians and the sight of Paul’s family smiling at him drew my spiritual breath far more deeply. But I wonder what energy would issue forth if the Basilica was full with 2000 souls.
I’m now in the Duke of Duckworth pub but I remember what came next at church. A gentleman started playing the pipe organ high in the back of the sanctuary. The deep tones went right through me but still I was left wanting. I wanted to be singing a stirring hymn with those 2000 souls, to have our voices bouncing off the ornamented walls.
What’s true is that the Tour du Canada riders have all headed home and I miss them. I miss the conversation. Today it was “Goodbye Paul, Ruedi, Ken, Jin-si, Kathy, Jane and Al.” Back to their real lives, or at least to their usual ones. Feeling lonely, I sat in the hotel lobby and joked with the guests who were coming and going. But our time together was measured in seconds. I need more than that.
On the TV is tennis – the US Open. I sip and cheer for Milos Raonic, the sole remaining Canadian. Around me are groups of friends, enjoying life together. No, I’m not going to approach them, declaring “Isn’t tennis great?” It’s time to be alone with Milos.
Milos lost … but he gave ‘er. I finished sipping and headed home. I was tired after a day of St. John’s slopy streets. And so to bed.