Last weekend found me at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine with one rather dashing Southern gent by the name of Philip (refer to photographic evidence below).
It’s not often I’m at church, let alone a cathedral – with our without a gentleman – but as I’m sure you can guess, there was only one thing that could have lured me there.
It was indeed the promise of four-legged creatures of all shapes and sizes at the Saint Francis Day Blessing of the Animals that got me up bright and early on a Sunday and so far north of midtown some New Yorkers might assume the need for a passport (or a password at the very least).
We made it there at the appropriated time only to be faced with a line three city blocks long. Not surprisingly I found myself in line behind a cat by the name of Sweet Pea completely nonplussed by the dogs of all sizes flanking her. This was clearly not her first time at this rodeo. (Note: though she was in a bag she was wearing a collar and leash for safety sake so don’t fret!).
After an hour wait during which I unsuccessfully scoured the line for more cats (but did turn up a miniature turtle, a frog, a few birds, and several kids holding cardboard boxes with air holes punched into them, I dared not ask what they contained), we were allowed entry.
Upon being handed the program for the service I quickly realized I’d made a grave error not having had breakfast. The Procession of Animals was some ten pages deep into the program (making it, by my estimation, an hour and a half down the road).
By the time communion came around I decided I had to partake, for sustenance if nothing else. It was either that or stealing snacks from small children. I’m sure God/Jesus/Higher Power understood my predicament. For the record I’m Christian so I was hedging my bets nothing too bad could come of it.
As an aside (two actually):
1) I found it perplexing that the wine was white. How is white wine the blood of Christ exactly? Phil accused me of being too literal. I guess he had a point because how could a stale cracker possibly represent the body of Christ. But is it really that hard to make the effort to get red wine? Are they worried about staining their robes or something?
2) After all these years they’re still using communal goblets of wine. Um hello, germs anyone? I took precaution as best I could by dipping my stake cracker
into the vat of bacteria instead of sipping from it and chose to believe the alcohol would kill any potentially harmful viruses.
While we waited for the official procession there were quite a lot of furry friends to “feast” our eyes upon.
Finally the time for The Procession of Animals arrived. In my defense, it was hard to photograph in the cathedral. The lighting was poor, the animals went by surprisingly quickly, and the handlers were constantly obstructing our view.
I tried my darndest and this is the best of what I was able to get. I must admit it was a pretty amazing sight watching them come down (up?) the aisle.
The Dawn Animal Agency is a sanctuary in upstate New York founded in 1973 that provides professional animals to the media for photo shoots etc (if the animal is appropriate for that type of work). Through their work they provide shelter and care for over 700 animals.
Green Chimneys, founded in 1947, is headquartered in Brewster, NY. They are “recognized as a worldwide leader in animal-assisted therapy and educational activities for children with special needs.”
While “bull” wasn’t listed in the program, not sure what else the big dude pictured below could be. A Yak is furrier I think. Any ideas? They had a rough time getting him down the stairs of the church after the service – you’d think they would have put a ramp at least!
Which pic is your fav?
Aside #2 (or are we officially on #3?):
There were two ladies behind us that could not stop talking about the fact that Edie Falco and her family are members of Saint John The Divine. They were convinced the woman pictured below was Edie Falco. I know it’s a blurry photo but rest assured, it was not Edie Falco. Just had to get it out there.
For the record. This was in fact Edie Falco from last year’s service.
So at this point (if you’re still reading this long post) you’re probably thinking, “This is great and all Tamar. Thanks for sharing your blurry photos but what about Philip? What’s up with him? Are you dating? He is handsome after all.”
Well, I hate to disappoint you but Phil and I are just good friends. In fact I was in his wedding. He’s no longer married but I had nothing to do with that. Honest.
In fact about 4 years ago I had the pleasure of going to Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis, with Phil’s ex-wife (I somehow managed to keep both of them in the divorce!) where as you can see from the photos above, I partook in my three most favorite things, cheese, wine and cats (in no particular order). This was during my pre-Pescatarian days so forgive the charcuterie!
A few photos from after the ceremony.
BONUS EXTRA: If you want to get a better idea of what it was like being there last Sunday check out the video below.