We just spent a delightful weekend under the “D” in the Hollywood hills. That famously gi-normous word that hovers on the side of the mountain, has recently been refurbished and is even more white, blocky and ever-present than before. Although it’s actually a rather crude and corny adornment, over the years it has become an icon known the world around as the symbol of star-studded glamor and movies that have changed people’s lives.
But for us, the attraction within super-bowl weekend was a visit with our long-time friends, Dr. R. Scott Colglazier (better known to us as Scott) his wife Marti, along with their adorable black lab Gracie. Actually, the super-bowl was more of an add-on draw rather than the focus of our weekend. The “main event” for us was scattered throughout our conversations, neighborhood walks, a hike in the park (including a stroll through Batman’s cave), a delightful gathering to discuss Jonathan Franzen’s latest book called Freedom, and the surprise of the weekend—Sunday morning at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. There we were blown away by the sights, sounds and stories of LA at its absolute best.
As for the sights, you really have to see it to believe it. Built in 1932, the gothic revival cathedral is an architectural wonder. Complete with characteristic pointed arches, filigree and bronze relief doors that faithfully convey the mood and ambiance of the best European churches. However, there’s one significant twist to this particular sacred edifice—instead of the expected stone construction, it’s built of concrete! Designed shortly after Frank Lloyd Wright began using cast stone details in some of his more inventive creations, FCCLA decided to take the craft to a new level . . . all the way up to the very top of the spires. It’s a masterpiece of design and technique!
As for the sounds—well, it’s hard to describe but I’ll try. First, you need to know that this church has the largest pipe organ of any church in the world! You heard me right—in the entire world! Seeing the banks of surrounding silvery pipes is fantastic, but hearing them sing out is even more unbelievable. At the end of each service, the organist pulls out all of the stops (literally), giving the best “free concert” imaginable. The lows and highs are so powerful, your entire body becomes immersed in notes that only whales or dogs can hear. It’s an experience everyone should have at least once in a lifetime.
And the morning’s message? Well, Scott delivered another one of those “sermons” for which he’s become famous. Last Sunday he spoke of the first of 4 Prayers That Will Change Your Life. The one he highlighted on our particular Sunday, is the traditional opening to The Lord’s Prayer. The message was that in the beginning of this prayer, our relationship with The Divine is made human. It was underscored by the recent birth of his first son’s daughter. He described the love and caring that he witnessed first-hand between Matthew and Caroline—a father with his child. At this point he obviously struck an emotional chord. I was moved beyond thought, into a place of reflection and feeling deep inside. I’m not the only one, because everyone around me was also moved to tears. This is Scott’s gift: He tranforms ideas into tangible reality, into ordinary human experience. You will be able to find his message on the church website, but don’t go there unless you’re really ready to be moved.
So, maybe you can see why I say that the super bowl that afternoon was a bit of a non-event for us. After all, we’d already been to the top of the mountain and into the sacred depths by then, so there wasn’t much space left for a football game to fill. We did however, really enjoy the nachos and homemade dips in their shady courtyard outside the kitchen. We could see the game flickering through the french doors in the living room, but the sound was turned down so as not to disrupt the conversational notes that continued to resonate. In fact, on our drive back up the coast, we were caught up in the tone of the weekend that lasted all the way home.