Suzy Says
Radio Nowhere

Decisions, decisions! Last Friday, there was the tree lighting ceremony in the Big Town, to be followed by the Lighted Truck Parade. It was also First Friday, the day that shops and galleries stay open late, and I should have stopped in to see my colleagues, but I had other plans.

Going to church.

It was very possibly the first time I had been to church since my father’s memorial service eleven years ago, and that was in a Quaker meeting house actually built and attended by William Penn. You know, the guy who put the Penn in Pennsylvania. It was nearly 400 years old and beautifully simple.

The church in this case is one of the best known and best loved landmarks in the Village (and is also both a national and a state historic landmark), built in 1867 of local redwood to replace a much smaller building put up a decade earlier. Here’s how it looked then:

And here’s how it looks now:

Fortunately, I had brought my trusty little flashlight, which has taken up its winter residence in whatever handbag from the Suzy Collection that I happen to be carrying. It was pretty dark in the Village, despite the occasional streetlight and the welcoming light from the church’s beautiful windows:

I scored a cushioned pew right next to the heating vent – bliss! – and about 5 rows from the altar. After taking off my coat, I looked around. This was my first visit inside this little jewel box, and it is just beautiful:

I could easily imagine the chandelier and wall sconces lit with flickering candles instead of eletcric light bulbs. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the cross is beautifully hand carved:

Those are little white paper doves on the holiday decorations.

I was there to see my beloved swimming teacher, Sallie, sing in a choir. In addition to teaching swimming to grown-ups and kids, she is also an addiction counselor, and somehow still finds time to go to practices and perform in a choir. She is the petite girl on the left in the front row:

Sallie is radiant when she sings – she just glows. I told her that after the performance and she said that she loves to sing. It definitely shows!

It was an eclectic program, including spirituals and songs from all over the world, as well as a hymn or two and Christmas carols. For “Ave Maria”, the choir split up and some went into the choir loft:

which produced an ethereal stereo effect for the haunting song. In one of the spirituals, there was a line about how Mary had only one child, which made me wonder how that happened. Assuming Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were real, you’d think that birth control would have been an issue back then.

And although “Silent Night” was my beloved maternal grandmother’s favorite carol, the “Holy infant so tender and mild” part always make it sounds like you’re going to eat him. But I kept these thoughts to my silly, shallow Self (at least until now).

When the performance was over, I greeted some friends and chatted for a while before heading home under the blazing stars. It was a magical evening.

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4 Responses

This sounds so uplifting….and it really was very appropriate that it was a clear starry night. Very nice too.

jx

Lovely old church, always a nice place to spend a peaceful time and to celebrate with friends and family, always comforting to be surrounded on a cold night.

Sounds like a nice time. Lovely church; it has that East Coast simplicity (probably because it is in a coastal community!). I love the original photo; it so nicely detailed.

Many of Mendocino’s pioneer settlers were from the the East Coast, which is why the village has that New England look. It’s where they shot all the exteriors for “Murder She Wrote.”

This church’s first minister was from PEI!

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