Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Keeping It Real --- Day 9/245

Walk: Presidio Wall Pickleball

Distance: 3.5 miles, 1 hour pickleball, small yoga

Entrance to Swedenborgian Church Compound (with plaque) on Lyon Street, San Francisco
Swedenborgian Church wall facing Washington Street, San Francisco

Tis the season when churches naturally come to mind, and today Ciwt is considering one about five blocks from her home: Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco.  To say it is easy to walk by is an understatement; Ciwt and other neighbors do it all the time.  Some might have stopped in front of the National Historic Landmark plaque that tells readers: 

This church represents a unique collaboration of leading archtects and artisans , who together created one of the earliest expressions of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the West Coast.

But it doesn't mention the truly wonderous fact that the church was built and has been in continuous operation since 1895.  In other words, it survived the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906.

Many have never gone through the wrought iron gates to experience the restful walled garden: 


Or the beautifully finished sanctuary of the wooden interior looking nearly identical to the day of its first service:

Recent candlelit evening service


Or experienced the enveloping hush, almost like a redwood grove.  Everything possible is of natural objects.  The massive bark-covered madrone support logs were carefully carted from the Santa Cruz mountains, the walls are hung with four landscape murals depicting the changing seasons contributed by the renowned painter William Keith, the sturdy chairs are nailless handmade maple with seats of woven tule rushes from the Sacramento River Delta.  The list of nature-based art, archtecture and landscape details in the Swedenborgian religious compound is extensive.

In its entirety the Swedenborgian compound is a intimate work of art.  And, besides the polymath genius theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)*, credit for establishing and guiding the arts and crafts look of the church goes to its first and long time minister, Reverend Joseph Worcester. Massachusetts born and educated before taking a sailing ship to San Francisco, an amateur architect himself, he bought the land, envisioned the plan for the church, personally selected many of the materials and art objects and assembled the artistic team that completed the project.  For students of San Francisco history the make up of that team is truly jaw dropping: a young, soon to be famous  Bernard Maybeck was one of the architects, and the already mentioned celebrated painter William Keith and Rev. Worcester were all Scottish-American and close friends and hiking buddies of John Muir (founder of the Sierra Club) who attended many services at the church.

Maybe Emanuel Swedenborg eying Ciwt's hair

*A Stanford University study estimated that Swedenborg, along with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and John Stuart Mill, had the highest IQ in history.

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