A Brief Blessing


abby_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

with various NPCs

Scene Title A Brief Blessing
Synopsis The 11th annual Blessing of the Bicycles is well-attended.
Date April 18, 2009

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine remains partially unfinished to this day, despite its construction having begun in 1892 - true to form for buildings of its type. Nonetheless, it is a grand and imposing sight; possessing the characteristic grand arches, pointed spires, and beautiful stained glass windows, including a large and striking Rose window. Where the walls aren't covered with old and meticulously preserved tapestries, they are often ornamented.

Guided tours are offered six days out of the week. Services are open to all. Since the bomb, the main nave is open at all but the latest hours, though the smaller subject-specific chapels close in the evening. The cathedral is also a site for major workshops, speakers, and musical events — most especially the free New Year's Eve concert, which has been held without fail each year since the bomb.

St. John's has long been a center for public outreach and civic service events, but since the bomb, those have become an even greater part of its daily affairs. Services include a men's shelter, a twice-weekly soup kitchen, walk-in counseling, and other programs besides. These are open to everyone — non-Evolved, unregistered Evolved, registered Evolved… the philosophy is that they're all children of God, and that's what matters.

It is just prior to 9:30 am on Saturday April 18th, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is quite soundly packed. And not, for once, packed with people in the pews, or even with people who look like your average churchgoer at weekend service. No. They are dressed in shorts and jeans, in brightly colored tee-shirts, in close-fitting uniforms. Lined up on either side of the cathedral's aisle, each and every one of them stands beside a bicycle — except the smattering of folks who brought scooters, skates, even a stray skateboard. There are also young children with tricycles. Helmets, shoulderpads, kneepads — all manner of safety gear is in evidence, and while the murmur of conversation is a relatively hushed one out of respect for the setting, it is also incessant. Paper rustles as people consult their copies of the event program; organ music plays in the background, a soaring melody befitting the immense and beautiful chamber lit by sunlight through stained glass.

Thinking it might be a cool experience, Magnes came alone to the Blessing of the Bicycles, bringing his pair of skates he rarely removes during the day, standing in line and constantly looking down at his feet. So many bikes, almost awkward if it weren't for the setting. He stays quiet, of course.

Abigail's near the back of the church near the doors out. She'd missed this last year, but was determined, despite the crush, to be there and see it. Who blesses bicycles?! Apparently.. the Episcopals do. Bet they bless dogs, even. This is not sarcastically thought, no, but it's mused as the redhead watches quietly.

An older man dressed in white robes comes up to the podium at the end of the aisle, and the susurrus of background conversation fades into silence, the crowd waiting expectantly. Some of them, longstanding regulars at this little ceremony, smile and wave at the reverend; he smiles in return.

"Thank you all for coming today," he begins. "This is a day to give thanks, and to ask for the blessing of the Lord upon us, his grace in our daily endeavors, his benevolent spirit to travel with us as we travel through the city. But let us begin by remembering those kindred spirits who could not be here today, the cyclists and skaters whom the Lord our Father has gathered to his embrace in the past year. If you could all join me in a moment of silence on their behalf."

It is not a question, and while paper rustles as people move, bowing their heads to join the reverend in this moment of memorial, silence indeed echoes from the cathedral walls.

This is Magnes' first year, so while he doesn't know anyone personally who might not be here this year, he still bows his head and closes his eyes, saying a mental prayer. He crosses his hands in front of him, just staying absolutely still until he has word that he can lift his head again.

Abigail's head drops as is tradition and the way it's done. Eyes closed, red hair sliding forward to shade her face from view. Her hands clasped in front of her and a quick prayer in her own mind given out in addition to the reverend's.

"Thank you," the man says simply, signalling an end to the period of remembrance. "We ask, Father, for your light upon our paths, for your spirit in our hearts; for your strength to help us endure the troubles of our lives. We ask for your blessing upon us and our work, you who are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; in Your name, Amen."

With the close of that brief prayer, the reverend steps out from behind the podium, an assistant at his elbow. He begins to make his way down the double-line of attendees, patiently pausing before each one to speak a phrase in benediction and to sprinkle holy water upon the corresponding bicycle. Or tricycle, or pair of skates, or skateboard, or scooter. Magnes may be some ways back in the line, but the blessing offered for his skates is no less heartfelt and sincere than the first one spoken.

"Thank you." Magnes says a bit awkwardly, not sure how else exactly he should respond. He looks around for a moment, then looks to the reverend again, waiting to see if he says something or keeps moving on.

There's Magnes. That's a surprise to the healer. That he's there, and he's taking an interest in this. Abby watches the path traversed by the reverend and his assistants with a smile. It's quaint enough and perhaps it truly will afford the cyclers and others present some small modicum of protection on their travels.

It certainly can't hurt. That warm, benevolent smile reappears on the reverend's face at Magnes' awkward gratitude. "You're welcome," he replies, before continuing his slow-but-steady progress down the line.

At the end of the line, not far away from where Abby stands in observance, he turns back to face the assembly. He offers a last few brief statements in farewell, reminds people that they may make donations at the door, and otherwise closes the — clearly very short! — ceremony. Those who have bells on their bikes chime them after the close, and then the members of each line begin to slowly file themselves and all of their gear back out of the grand hall.

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