Month: November 2014

What is it about California?

I have never wanted to go to California. Having lived in NYC for a while I had a quite ambivalent view on this distant land of sun and sand. My perception fed by fuzzy images of childhood’s TV soap operas and then New Yorkers’ animosities towards the Californians, created a rather repulsive picture of a place where everything and everybody is plastic, fake and dishonest.

On the other hand and somewhat contradictorily to myself I dreamt of going to Hollywood, if not as a rising star, at least as a visitor.

This dream materialised not a long time ago. I was asked to go LA on business. Just for a week. I thought, fine I can survive a week. Reluctantly, I agreed to go.

The very first thing I noticed after landing was an amazing blue skies. The fact that you can actually see the sky without the necessity of bending your neck to the break point, truly shocked me. How much I missed the sky! Back in Poland, starring at the skies and ‘reading’ the clouds was definitely my favourite thing to do. But this was a long long time ago. The reality, the speed of life, the lack of time pushed back the need to just lay down on the grass and watch drifting clouds. Let alone New York, where seeing anything besides the grey massiveness of its architecture is almost impossible.

In LA I rent a car. I thought I ordered quite a big model, however after joining the traffic I realised that my car is the smallest of all by far. How much I love driving, how much I missed it! Even the traffic jam didn’t spoil my fun. I drove a car! I also parked with no problems at all, just in front of my offices. Throughout the whole working week I felt weird. I was not supposed to like that place but I was falling in love with it.

Everything seemed to be completely different to what I expected. The landscape was stunning, the sun was shining and it was warm, pleasantly beautifully warm. Not hot, not freezing cold, not windy, not rainy but just warm. Even people were warmer that elsewhere. To my despair I managed to visit the Malibu Beach and I took a ride through Mullholland Drive. At sunset.

I woke up this morning to a gloomy Scottish November day and I closed my eyes immediately again.

California, I miss you!

Evensong at York’s Minster

York's MinsterLast week, for the first time in my life, I attended the Church of England’s service. Moreover, it was not a standard service, but an evening one with… the choir.

It was fantastic! I experienced close to spiritual emotions. “Close to” as I am not religious and I think that “fully” spiritual emotions can only be experienced by deeply religious people.

The York’s Minster is the most beautiful sacral building I have ever seen in my life. I am just overwhelmed by its beauty. It is so imposing yet welcoming, perfect, grand yet approachable. It is a truly social institution, with distinct, quite “avant-garde” views on society and community (here’s an example: http://www.yorkminster.org/worship-and-choir/same-sex-relationships-and-civil-partnerships.html).
The York Minster proves that perfectionism in form and function do exist. I wish more religious institutions were like this.

5:15pm Wednesday evening prayer was all about the songs. The choir performed a pianissimo introduction, followed by psalms and and hymns. The three lessons we were taught were about mercy and forgiveness. The punishment, however, in case we do not show mercy to our brothers and sisters in faith would be as relevant and measurable as a reward for our good behaviour. If we do not live according to God’s teaching, we will be captured, tortured and eventually killed. Yes, it has been said, we will be killed.

What are the general rules then? Obviously they are not the same for believers and for God. The God can do anything, God can kill and he will still remain the finest, purest, fairest of us all.

Here is where I loose my “spirituality” as I reject double standards and inequality altogether. God imposed an inequality on people and he did it in a very smart way. You cannot stand against Him, you cannot judge Him and you cannot question Him – it is a total tyranny. He, God, can do everything; I, believer, can only do what I am allowed to do. I have to be obedient. In return God will protect me, but if I am not obedient He will destroy me.

The words used in both: old and new testaments are very descriptive and direct. There were small kids in the choir singing: “when the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh…” If it was a film, it would surely be 15+ only. Not in church though; here common sense rules do not apply. Do not question the God, nor his shepherds.

Despite the fact that at times I wished the service would be thought in language I could not understand (Latin?) as I found the content somewhat disturbing, the overall experience was really beautiful.

The choir sang the psalms beautifully, peacefully and gracefully. I felt redeemed.
My sins to-date must have not been too serious…