I almost had a panic attack for the first time in over a year. Usually these attacks spring from some feeling of anxiety or an overwhelming emotional experience induced by something small and almost insignificant, like a colour or a phrase. Today it was an Anglican Cathedral.
This particular cathedral was built in the 1840’s in the centre of a small but developing city. Today it looks alien amidst a background of commerce. It is surrounded by a forest of sky-scrapers and is an anachronistic reminder of a calmer age… a lost age.
‘Twas the topmost cross that first caught my attention, an outcry of black upon a blue sky. I struggled to make out the shape of it, encircled as it was by brass or iron or some other blackened metal. My gaze followed the cross downwards across the roof of the tower, an octagonal structure, and down to the stained-glass windows. These windows took the shape of what appeared to be a lily, a three looped image proudly pronouncing something that I was not yet able to hear. Then suddenly I recognized in the shape the outline of an old friend’s tattoo, and immediately thought about what that tattoo symbolized: body, mind, spirit.
More thoughts raced through my mind, some of which tripped along their journey, slowing them to a rate at which I could appreciate them: thoughts on Kierkegaard, my tattooed friend, and the man who mugged me several months ago.
My gaze traveled lower on the cathedral, and sculptured screaming faces stared back at me. Their voiceless agony pierced through me, and I felt like a video camera, panning in for an extreme closeup of these lips, these noses, these eyes. They were distorted in a disturbing way by gaping holes left in the limestone over a hundred years of Canadian weather had so efficiently cut away.
I felt the attack come over me, and for a moment I started to hyperventilate.