In September 1991, I started school on the Close; in June 2004, 76 of my classmates and I processed down the nave of Washington National Cathedral to the manic arpeggios of Widor's Toccata on the organ and, streaming out of the doors at the west end, threw our white caps in the air and said goodbye to Mount Saint Alban.
Except, of course, most of us didn't, not entirely, and I certainly haven't. After thirteen years as a student there, seven of which were spent in the choir program, I can't imagine who I'd be without the spiritual influence of the Cathedral. I try to go to Evensong every month or so when the choristers are in session, plus the Christmas service of Lessons and Carols, and am still awed every time I walk into the magnificent building.
Last night, Jon and I had the opportunity to understand the Cathedral from a unique perspective: we were part of a small group touring the damage that resulted from a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Washington, DC five years ago today. The earthquake, which lasted less than a minute, caused $34 million worth of damage. $10 million has been raised and all of the structural and internal repairs have been completed, but 87% of the external work remains and the Cathedral is actively seeking the rest of the funding needed to finish the restoration.
It hurts to see broken finials and cracked buttresses, but the mastery of the stonemasons is absolutely incredible and it was amazing to explore what they've already accomplished from the halfway up the central tower. Experiencing the Cathedral, all the work that went into making it what it is and all the work that continues to be done - well, it was glorious.