One foot back home
29.04.2013 - 29.04.2013 78 °F
We are back on U.S. soil, cleared U.S. customs this morning, can see U.S. Postal Service mailboxes, called our kids without dialing “1” first -- we are at St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, where Americans drive on the left. Whee-hee!
We went to church this morning at 9 am (as the All Saints Anglican Cathedral website says) and found that the service was at 10 am (it was the day after Carnival, so they cancel the early service). Lesson to all churches: if you change a service time you’ve got to let people know! So we walked to the synagogue wanting to see this historic place founded in 1796 (the beautiful building pictured below - included because it is likely the only congregation in the world called “St. Thomas Synagogue.”). It was closed so we trudged back up the hill to the Cathedral, passing charming children in a window with a big green ball that glowed in the sun (also see below).
The Cathedral was established in 1815, burned down, and was rebuilt in 1846 by the labor of freed slaves. These parishioners cut a stone each week and brought it to church on Sundays. Funds being in short supply, they held the stones together with mortar made with molasses. The church was completed in six months and the walls have withstood the destruction of hurricanes ever since then.
The congregation was extraordinarily welcoming to us. We both cried with joy at being with them and worshipping in community for the first time in many months.
Back to the ship, where we had tea with our friends Gail and Togo West and Gail’s childhood friend, Karen Williams (from St. Thomas) who went to Bates with Bill Arata, another cruise guest. Karen’s husband, Wes, now a priest on St. Thomas, taught in the Harvard MBA program and spoke of one of his students who currently owns warehouses along the NJ Turnpike. Jerry Blank, another guest, overheard and came to tells us that he was a good friend of the student’s father. No need to follow along with this narrative; it attempts to illustrate the constant connections that we are finding on our way.
Karen and Wes departed the ship and we then led the ship’s worship at 5:45. This was the 20th and last service for us, and a poignant time. We had no time to be wistful, though, as the altar candlesticks had disappeared because the “religious cupboard” had been tidied up for the perusal of the U.S. ship inspectors. Some things about church never change!