Wild at Grace Cathedral: Foraging Fridays

This week found Fern and I immersed in mystery, symbols, spirals and labyrinths. Spontaneously following a curiosity that engaged both of us as it emerged, we steeped ourselves in universal language, communications from the unconscious and messages of the soul. We played with tarot cards (one of her favorite “games” since she was itty bitty) and even began a relationship with a new deck. As the moon has grown lush and full, I have allowed both of us to buck routine and let our wild, feral selves out of their cage.

And we decided to do it with lots of fun. So Fern went on her very first cable car ride, satisfying another curiosity that came to her through this book.


My wild thing on her first Maybelle.

Given that we were feeling beckoned by sacred mysteries all week, what better destination than the top of California Street, and the shining castle on the hill…


Grace Cathedral

It hadn’t been an easy journey. We got off to a slow start and the whole day began to feel very circuitous and I realized this was not going to be a quick trip. The only way to stay sane was to be up for the ride, so I mustered my sense of adventure and kept the hounds of impatience at bay. It was a relief when we stepped onto the street a block away from Grace, approaching slowly and with reverence. Fern kept looking up with wide eyes at the cassedial and I unwound by taking note of the beauty close at hand.

Two rose bushes invited us to come close as Fern shouted Pink! Pink! and then I laughed as my eyes focused on the obvious offering…

Rosehips. A transitional seasonal medicine extraordinaire. Ripening at the same time as Elderberries, they offer one of the most concentrated sources of vitamin C if made as a syrup. Once picked and dried, they rapidly lose their potency, but processed fresh, they are unparalleled.

As soon as I began plucking, Fern was eager to help. Between the two of us we picked a nice sackfull, and still the bushes were loaded. As we gathered, I couldn’t help but utter sincere and heartfelt thanks for such good fortune that I had not even sought out. As the rose window of the Cathedral shone in the sun, I thought of the Queen of Heaven and her connection to this flower, and I felt the warm arms of synchronicity replacing the frazzle from our hectic schlepp.

Happy now and feeling blessed, Fern said Bye bye Rosehips! and we scampered up the steps to the castle.

I have had a deep love affair with Grace Cathedral ever since I moved to San Francisco 16 years ago. Modeled after the Chartres Cathedral in France, and incorporating the same labyrinths, this gorgeous sacred space is a delicious blend of Episcopalian faith and ancient symbolism. With rose windows and roses in the center of the twining paths, stunning stained glass and a mission of openness to all people and their lifestyles, this is the one and only church that helped me reconcile with Christianity and allowed me to hear the truth of Jesus’s teachings…the open hearted, rose-in-bloom quality of compassion.

This was not her first visit (click on that for an adorable, scrawny, 9mos old Fern) to this labyrinth or others, but it was the first time she really got into walking the paths…or perhaps I should say skipping and leaping about.

Looking up is dizzying…


The rose window from inside.

What better place to kneel? True communion…

Below the stained glass are frescos with bible stories and the history of bringing christianity to the new world. They are awe inspiring.

Both Anne and Brigit have written about their connection to Mary, mother of Jesus, and I love her too (being her namesake and all). But there is another Mary that I have a deeper relationship with, and she was known as the Beloved Disciple.


Approaching her shrine always sends chills up my back.

When I first moved to the city in 1996, I had a very powerful dream. I was in a little grove of walnut trees, and on the outside I was surrounded by 7 brahman cows, all a different color of the rainbow. Standing in a circle of people singing and clapping, I watched as a woman moved out into the center and danced to each particpant. When she got to me, she told me her name, and said I am just like you.

Her name is Mary Magdalene.

At the time I knew nothing about her (this was before The Davinci Code), other than historically she had, at times, been regarded as a whore. A few days after this dream I visited Grace Cathedral for the first time and saw this painting. Beneath is the church’s reclamation of Magdalene, putting her in her proper position as a Saint, and as the keeper of the teachings of Jesus.

I love this place.


For you, Anne. πŸ™‚

We lit a prayer candle at Saint Magdalene’s shrine, and also here at the Blessed Mother (and said a prayer for you, Dad).

Fern was really into lighting the candles and said, “Let’s go light another one, at the guy.”

“What guy?”

“The guy on the stick”.

Out of the mouth of babes, folks.

Walking back to the entrance, we stopped to say hello to Saint Francis.

For a statue, he has the kindest face. I could gaze at it all day.

Back out into the sunshine, to begin the journey home, and for another ride on the cable car.

We passed China Town and I realized I haven’t been there in 12 YEARS. It’s easy to just stick to the same little hoods in this city.

And finally made it onto the bus that would take us home.

Tired.

Also…thanks to your encouraging and positive feedback I am feeling less bashful…this is what I wore.

Yeah, whatever owl, you’re cool I guess.


scarf: teeny. earrings and necklace: nicole, braid bindings: gift, shirt and jeans: target, boots: thrifted.

Happy Full Moon weekend friends. Enjoy the intensity and tell me folks…what mysteries are intriguing you right now?

13 thoughts on “Wild at Grace Cathedral: Foraging Fridays

  1. wow. i love all of this post and adventure and magic…and then it is topped off by your crazy hotness at the end.

    WHERE IS THE BELT FROM??

    i think full moon is in aries this weekend, right? rather than aquarius?

    i’ve been feeling the moon approaching for a few days – in the obvious places (i.e. my boobs and my womb) – but also in dreamland. my dreams have been heavy and in full-color, demanding intense emotional engagement that leaves me feeling drained in the morning. then, last night, Asher awoke crying from a nightmare, which hasn’t happened…in years, i think. i found him crying in the hallway, and through his tears he told me “i couldn’t even move, mom, i couldn’t move…. there was a misshapen beehive.” wow.

    and then, as seems fitting with your post, i hugged him, laid with him in bed, calmed the tears, and then blessed him with rose water. god bless the roses and our babies.

    big times in the sky.

    loving you and your stories,

    sadie rose

    1. yes, i had a little niggle when i wrote aquarius…i had been thinking about it earlier in the week. fixed now.

      wow asher, get down with your bad self and that beehive…whew. thank goodness for mamas and their intuitive healing.

      the belt is from a store in berkeley, from back in the days of student loans. ;). thanks for the lovins.

  2. Another beautiful post! Loved the Presidio pictures and the fabulous kitchen you and Jeff poured your heart and soul into. Yesterday I was delighted to receive Fern’s birthday package. I had sent the box to #24 Page st, a senior moment I’m afraid to say. In any case after removing the rather squishy rose hips I will send it along again. My faith in th USPS is restored as for me….. I’m particularly glad you found a new source for the hips. Love these fall days.

  3. mary, WOW!! what a lovely post. it looks as though you and fern had quite the day. it looks like she adored her very first cable car ride. i, myself, have never been on a cable car ride either. i feel as though i am right there, with you two, via the wonderful pictures. you captured such amazingness throughout that day. the cathedral is breathtakingly beautiful. so amazing. the lovely flowers, rosehips. what amazing architecture. great moments in time captured on that day. it makes me smile, when looking at these awesome pictures!! your outfit is awesome, too!!

  4. The last photo of you is truly lovely, I smiled the moment I saw it. I have no idea why, it just made me happy. Cathedrals have always made me feel at peace, even since losing my Catholic faith. I’ve always dug Mary Magdelan as well, having always been chosen to play her in plays and performances as a child…I remember one kid coming up to me once and informing me “Mary Magdelan was a whore” and being the naive child I was I turned to my friend next to me, who whispered ‘That means she sold her body for sex”.

  5. hey hon, “I unwound by taking note of the beauty close at hand” , I iappreciate that sentence so much. I found getting ready for market really weird this week, culminating in a stress headache. Along my run yesterday…I emptied my mind and looked out and beyond myself to absorb all that was around me, the heavy clouds, the green hills, the moving air, so full of bird-night-peeps, the interchanging smells of flowers and cooked dinners. All that beauty lifted me into a sense of peacefulness, and all is right – and my tension headache disappeared. Noticing all the fucking great that is there in front of me, makes for marvellous medicine. I also have a fondness for Mary – the Mother. There is a softness i remember of her in hymns and prayers at school and church that I didn’t find in any other Christian teachings…she seemed to be forgiving, loving and always watching with care. I remember thinking (as a kid) of Mary Magdalene, in my mind she was always in tears…I felt great worry for her and thought i would invite to my house and let her stay with me, it was a protective feeling. Three is a great developmental milestone, in many ways Fern is going to be easier now. I think it’s the independence, and decision making -it’s nice to see as a parent. Continue your wild ways, it looks like an adventure i should’ve gone on with mine while we were there. LASTLY you’re such a babe. Can’t believe how awesome the colour in that scarf looks on you, I totally didn’t do it justice when I wore it. You guys are special. Much love. xo

  6. I love these pics at the end, I am mentioning them firstly because they are filled with the grace of magic and fun, and of one who is being won over into doing something for the sheer delight of it, realizing one can.You are such a gorgeous lady, and what a cool Mom: ) If couldn’t be a patch on you if I tried sweetie. You and Fern are such intrepid heroes now in my world, and in my heart. You make a tram ride into heaven, and a flower into the moment of a lifetime. I think the world for me that describes this whole post is CONNECTED. And what bliss it feels to be connected to life that you find yourself skipping through labyrinths. Here in my village is a labyrinth modeled as well in Chartes. I couldn’t believe it when I read this. It is in the centre of the park, by a willow wood and a living maze. Its quite extraordinary for a little village but its here. I will share more about that with you one of these days: )
    As for St. Madeleine, she walks with us I am sure of it, and we are a tribe reuniting from one life to another, I know that.

    Love and Moonbeams

    x E

  7. wow, throughout all the blogs i’m reading today, and the post i wrote this afternoon, there is a theme of being open and in the present. there is something shifting, i can feel it. i’ve been thinking these thoughts for a while, and when i see it mirrored back at me, there’s a comfort there.

    the way you describe your adventure transports me right to the moment. what delicious language.

    on another note, your outfit! that HAIR! i am patiently waiting for my hair to be long enough to put in braids. what inspiration!

    anyways, you’re fantastic. thank you for writing and inspiring.

  8. Ah, you make me yearn to go back to San Francisco! It’s been a long time – actually 12 years since I too would have been in China Town in SF…. how funny – we might have passed each other! Gorgeous post. We call churches ‘castles’ too πŸ™‚

  9. so pretty! the church, the roses, you and fern. and before i forget, fern’s clogs! hello! how freaking cute are those?! i also love your hair here, super awesome! as is your outfit. the cable car pics are so fun. last time i was there with the kids we went on one, it was great.

    i love your dream and then the meeting with mary magdalene at the church. how awesome is that?! i LOVE it when those mysterious things take place, it really makes you realize we all are connected, even with those no longer living. i feel like i’ve said this before but my sisters name is sr. mary magdalene. i remember my grandma being mortified when she took that name, i guess she never got past the whore part ;D about two years ago the relics of st. mary magdalene came to our church. it was SO AMAZING! plus they made their way to my sister’s convent too which she was so excited about. thanks for thinking of me when you were there πŸ˜€ it is a beautiful church.

  10. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful post! Love the rose symbolism throughout and your dream, and Fern in the light of the stained glass πŸ™‚ How cute is your outfit too?! Lookin’ good mama!

  11. You’re so stylin’ and putty! I love that Fern enjoys labyrinths, that bodes very well for her in adulthood, eh? Never to loose her way, always holding an internal lodestone. The church is beautiful. I love your prophetic dream of it. It is an excellent dream, ripe with symbolism. The painting of Mary Magdalene holding an egg in her red robe is so powerful, thank you for sharing it. Religious places have their own mysterious energy that is worth imbibing. We went to Chartres when I was little and I remember it way better than Notre Dame.

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