May 3, 2019: Irreligion and Resurrection at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

From Fr. Steven

My grandmother was a life-long and loyal Buddhist. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that in the Korean community of Los Angeles, she was one of its most well-known supporters. She often had monks from Korea stay with her at her home, which had a room with a huge statue of the Buddha, and she had a very disciplined prayer life, getting up at 3:00 AM each day to pray. Needless to say, childhood visits to grandmother's house were always a little unusual.

Among the speakers at her funeral was one of her closest friends, the Venerable Dr. Jongmae Park, who serves as a bishop in the Teagu Order of Korean Buddhism. (In one of those odd coincidences, Dr. Park's grandfather was the first Korean Anglican priest in Korea, the Rev. Mark Kim, who was born in 1866).

As her first grandson, I was always singled out for "great" things by my grandmother, and my academic success in school only reinforced this idea in her mind. The only thing for which she faulted me, in a gentle way, was my Christianity. Especially as I began to discern a call to the priesthood, she would corner me at family gatherings and whisper conspiratorially that I was really a Buddhist inside.

And I will admit that if I were looking for a religion, by which I mean a spiritual path to peace and enlightenment, or even, just a coherent life philosophy that teaches us how to live a noble life, I would definitely choose Buddhism, perhaps with classical Stoicism as a close second. 

But, as odd as this sounds, I didn't choose Christianity because I thought it was a better path to spiritual enlightenment. Rather, when I faced the deepest existential crisis of my life and realized that all my professional and academic accomplishments had led me off a cliff into despair, in that moment, I was finished.

I came to the end of the road.

I hit rock bottom.

I died to my old self. 

And it was only through the power of the profoundly irreligious crucifixion of Jesus on the Cross that I was able to be resurrected into a new life. 

The Rev. Steven Lee

The Contemplative Gaze: Seeing Our Space
With Mother Posey Krakowsky
Saturday, May 11, 2 PM - 5 PM

How does the art and architecture of our sacred spaces inform and enhance our liturgies? What concepts are we internalizing about God and the human condition through what our eyes encounter? Participants will see and reflect on the visual bounty present within the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Join us for an afternoon learning the technique of contemplative group observation of art, which is then used as a catalyst for dialogue.


About Mother Posey

Mother Posey Krakowsky is a priest associate in the Diocese of New York at the Church of the Ascension in Greenwich Village. She is the founder of The Contemplative Gaze, a teaching ministry that helps congregations deepen their spiritual engagement with the world using a contemplative practice to explore the art in their worship spaces.

Mtr. Posey has been a fiber artist since childhood.  Quilting is her favorite medium, but she also knits, weaves, and makes clothing.  She has exhibited her work in New York City, most recently at Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in the Citicorp Building, where she had a solo show in the spring of 2014. She currently has a piece in the ECVA online exhibit: Suffering. Posey uses painting, beading, and found objects in her work. Her pieces have been described as icons in fabric.  

Before going to seminary, Posey had a peripatetic career, first in the garment center in New York (for nine years) working for Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, then as a stay at home mom, and lastly, as an elementary school teacher in the Bronx.  She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Philippe.

From Marsha and Tim

In case you missed last week’s newsletter—there wasn’t one. We took the week off after Easter.   It was a very moving Holy Week, the Triduum—Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil were powerful.  So many in our community did so much, from the ushers, liturgical servers in all their various roles, musicians, clergy, facilities staff and security (listed in no particular order).  I was especially moved by the participation of the community in the foot washing on Maundy Thursday. The wardens were concerned that this change in the liturgy from clergy washing feet to everybody washing feet might cause upset.  But we were so wrong.  More people participated and it was smooth and beautiful.  Thank you EVERYBODY who took part.   The Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday was another powerful example of shared faith and gratitude. The line of participants was so long that the choir ran out of music and did an impressive job of sight singing to support the worshippers.
As many of you know, the Cathedral had a fire on Palm Sunday. It was contained in a room under the chapel of Saint Saviour, and we are thankful for that.  But the effect on the organ has yet to be determined. According to Music Director Kent Tritle, it will be about a month before we will know if the organ has to be dismantled and cleaned.  Those of you who were around for the last fire and the restoration know that dismantling, cleaning and reinstating all those organ pipes is an enormous and time-consuming business.  We are hoping it won’t be necessary.  In the meantime the organists are using an excellent portable organ, much like the one that was rented in 2001. 
Last Sunday we had the third open reception for newcomers.  This was an experiment that worked well.  On the fourth Sundays in February, March and April newcomers and those who wished to welcome new comers gathered in a chapel for bagels, coffee and conversation.  The Vestry and the Newcomers Committee is delighted with the success of these receptions.  Newcomers not only meet the leadership, other newcomers and old timers, but are given space to think about what joining this community might mean to them.  How can we help them grow in the faith? What do they have to share with us? These receptions will resume in the fall.  In the meantime, Second Sundays continue, and we ask all the old timers to be on the lookout for people they don’t know, and to greet them, talk to them, make them welcome. 
Looking forward
This coming Sunday, May 5, the Reverend Doctor William J Barber II, one of today’s foremost proponents of the social gospel, will preach at the 11:00 a.m. service.  The church is expected to be full of visitors that day, so it is suggested that you come early.  If you can help usher, please contact Tim Dwyer, warden and head usher.
Sunday May 12 is Mother’s Day and Second Sunday.  Come over to Cathedral House at 12:30 for lunch and schmoozing. 
On Sunday, May 19, the GMHC sponsored AIDS March will once again pass right by the Cathedral grounds on 110th Street.  The Vestry invites you to join a bagpiper and members of the community to cheer the marchers on and hand out Cathedral Rose Window fans.   Meet on the corner of 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue at 10:30 AM.
Many Blessings!
Marsha and Tim