The altar of the great cathedral
brings indoors something of the majesty
of the open sky, as the architect
lifts the eyes of all from the altar
to the wide beauty and precision
of the ceiling, jeweler’s art in the sky,
a world, in its refinement and artistry,
of museums as much as of worship.
This is a hallowed ground far different
from the wilderness altar of Moses,
his burnt offering at the high place
at Gibeon. It is our place to be
grateful for different gifts at different times.
From a heritage of thousands of years,
of the written word, saints, orthodoxies;
of priests, interpreters, wars, revisions,
and renewals; worship wears very
different vestments from the rough cloth of
religion hewn from the desert, from the
wilderness, where orthodoxies are tribal,
and living by cohesion essential for
survival of both group and individual.
Weather permitting, the greater gift lies
with a cross lashed together from sticks,
deep in the forest, upon an altar
simple as a fallen log, brushed clean;
its moment of clarity, silence, and
prayer, through the tall trees, where great
shafts of light are the majesty of Heaven;
and the hand of man, an afterthought.