WASHINGTON (RNS) — Some people looked straight up, watching the lights and shadows crossing Washington National Cathedral’s neo-Gothic arches. Others stared directly ahead, listening intently to meditative world music emanating from a trio playing instruments from across the globe.
A child rocked to the gentle music and a man nodded to the beat as the altar was bathed in a background of purplish fog.
Over three 45-minute immersive sessions, “Space, Light and Sound,” part of the cathedral’s “Seeing Deeper Week” (Feb. 10-14), drew more than 2,000 people of several faiths, as well as the nonreligious and unaffiliated, including many grandchildren and grandparents of both groups.
With the cathedral’s nave emptied of the 1,400 chairs normally arranged in neat rows facing the altar, the crowd sat, stood or stretched out on the floor in the center of the nearly 500-foot-long space.
“A lot of people who would never come here for church come here for this, which is part of the point,” said Kevin Eckstrom, chief communications officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington’s cathedral, often the setting for funerals of state and rites for other national figures. After offering the show for free for three years, for the past two the cathedral has charged $10 per person to control the size of the crowds and help defray the cost of the event.
Nina Goodwine, 33, who describes herself as spiritual but not religious, said she normally wouldn’t darken the door of a cathedral but said that as a fan of art installations she decided to attend the first of the light- and sound-filled events on a rainy Monday night.
“I meditated for, like, two minutes while I was here when the music was playing, so for me there was a spiritual aspect to it,” said Goodwine, who learned about the event on Instagram and traveled half an hour from Takoma Park, Maryland. “I think just being in here, just the scale of everything with the color, it’s a spiritual experience, just looking at it.”
Jaiden Patel, a 9-year-old Hindu boy who attended the second session with his mother and grandmother, described it as the “best 30 bucks spent ever.”
“I thought I was just in a new world,” he marveled.
Source: Religion News Service
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