Church Hopping #11 (My Mecca)

My Mecca

Church Hopping #11

Ebenezer/herchurch San Francisco

This past weekend we church hopped all the way to San Francisco to Ebenezer/herchurch. Jann had been telling me about her church (which they don’t capitalize for years and she had recently collaborated with their church band, Devi Vaani, on a new holiday CD. Jann was going to their Goddess Harvest herfestival to give a workshop on her new book and hymnal and suggested I go. Somehow it worked out and my youngest son, Nikko, and I hopped a plane, and my sister who lives out there picked us up.

We first visited herchurch on the Saturday of the festival and felt welcomed from the parking lot. My sister, Sagan, and I brought her two young boys and Nikko that day to check out the resident artisan market and to see the art exhibit (over 30 artists were represented at their Goddess Spirit Rising Art Show Opening), all Divine Feminine themed. People everywhere introduced themselves and played with and held our babies so that we could look around. We weren’t there very long on Saturday but left smiling and intrigued.

On Sunday morning Sagan and I met Jann at herchurch for the liturgy (Sunday service) along with our two youngest sons. The service blew us all away. I don’t know how many times I cried. These people were HAPPY and creative and thriving.

I went to a very artsy university and I work regularly in the theatre around incredibly talented artists, but the herchurch members took it a step further. ALL of them multitalented in so many ways, this I nstitution was like a breeding ground for all things creative.

Musicians, painters, jewelry makers, poets, photographers, interpretors, weavers, gourmet cooks, healers, visionaries, writers, dancers, performers, yoga instructors, volunteers and philanthropists (from what I saw) and all in one building: one small community in this huge city encouraging and feeding off of each other’s productive energy. I very quickly felt I needed to step up my game (for lack of a better expression.) This place is on (Pele) fire!

So, the service began and we sat up front where the lively, colorful, enthusiastic and dare I say sexy, (Why can’t our spiritual leaders be sexy? Why has that become unacceptable?) Pastor Stacy Boorn had suggested we sit so that our children could see and experience it all.

The cathedral sanctuary is GORGEOUS. It’s a traditional Lutheran church building with high ceilings, beautiful arches, stained glass and blonde birch wood everywhere. The chairs are arranged in a semi-circle so that everyone feels a part and equal. The Devi Vaani trio began, singing one of the Christmas (Sophiamas) songs from the new CD. It was the most glorious sound I’ve ever heard in a church; their music was as angelic and all-encompassing as any church choir has ever sounded. They set the tone for something special. The golden Goddess on the piano, Katie Ketchum (who’s artwork is on the CD cover and photo-enhanced by the pastor), then took us on a lively bluesy/gospel musical adventure like I’d never experienced. By this time, Nikko was up and dancing and drumming right there in the middle of it all. And if my sister’s infant, Alexander, could’ve walked he would’ve run over to that piano.

I didn’t quite know what to think; I kinda just stood their bouncing in amazement like I’d just walked into someone’s raging party but it was only 10:30 a.m. on a Sunday! This led into the Grandmother Invocation where we sang and bowed to each of the 4 directions, a divinely moving ritual.

There were Tibetan bowls ringing, a conch shell sounded. and there was poetry followed by one of the Goddess on piano’s hymns. Someone read Psalms 146: “My spirit sings to Goddess. With all my being I praise Shekinah.” A young female, who I think was an actual Seraphim angel, sang “an original piece as a reflection on the pain and light in Paris” a cappella. I was transported.

And then before Pastor Stacy began her sermon, re-coined “Wisdomscape”, she ran around with their Holy book and many members excitedly touched it. Everything they did was fun.

During her Wisdomscape, the pastor (who wore the traditional Lutheran collar but with a bright robe as well) very enthusiastically {More about enthusiasm in my Church Hopping Adventure #9 blog entry] shared her message, with Nikko always nearby. While constantly welcoming and encouraging my child in the middle, she quoted Gloria Steinem who was recently asked who she was going to pass her torch to. Evidently, she said, “No one!”; that no one should give their light up but help light other’s torches. We all have a torch to carry, work to do.

Then for communion- I’ve never seen a congregation so excited to take communion, the fresh-baked bread WAS really good though. We chanted: “Earth my Body, Water my Blood, Air my Breath, and Fire my Spirit” as we waited in line. This was followed by the Celtic Blessing : “May the circle be open but unbroken. May love of the Goddess be ever in your heart. Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again.” Pastor Stacy blessed us and more music closed the liturgy. I think I just sat there throbbing and fulfilled, not knowing what had just hit me.

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