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  • I didn't know a lot about St. Paul's Cathedral before I visited. I knew that it had a gigantic door my parents were photographed in front of on their honeymoon, and that Mary Poppins sang of "Feeding the Birds" on the "steps of St. Paul." Other than that, the building was a mystery. My travel companion Christina and I arrived on an overcast day in June. There were the usual crowds of tourists but I really stuck out like a sore thumb in my bright green Epcot soccer style T-shirt and blue madras shorts. All I was missing was a fanny pack and knee-high socks.

    We arrived in the rear of the church. The steeples reaching high above us like great watch towers, only to be overshadowed by an enormous dome. We admired the structure and walked around to the front where a statue Queen Anne stood in all her glory. Behind her were the steps of St. Paul, those same steps Julie Andrews sang about all those many years ago. Its steps lined with tourists and patrons to the great cathedral. We walked up the steps and saw the door, a mighty door if ever there was one. It's large panels and aged exterior was impressive to say the least. We posed for a few photos and then walked over to the edge of the staircase. There we fed the birds with some leftover granola bars. Somewhere Ms. Andrews was smiling.

    We entered the cathedral and almost all at once fell over at the sheer immensity of the interior. Columns, memorials, and of course, the stunning dome in the center. We walked around taking in all it had to offer, only regretting that they did not allow photography or video of any kind. The memories will stay forever, but it would have been nice to share them and reflect later on.

    Not too long after we heard an announcement that an abbreviated mass would be held under the great dome. Seeing as we most likely wouldn't be able to attend another service until we returned stateside, we decided to take in the service. We sat in a pair of folding chairs neath the dome. A few stragglers wondered over and joined in the semi circle around the altar. Sitting there I realized I had a great opportunity to take some inconspicuous photos with my phone. I sneakily held out my phone between my knees. An innocent position at first glance, but the true nature of the position was more sinister. In an attempt to blindly snap a photo of the dome, I aimed the lens skywards. With a touch of the screen I fired off a quick picture. I turned over the phone and saw a perfectly framed shot, capturing the dome's impressive dimensions just right.

    Pleased with my shot, I went to put my phone in my pocket. Suddenly, I was covered in light as if caught by a security watch tower. One of the windows near the dome's opening poured sunlight onto my seat, and my seat alone. At first I thought God was angry at me for taking the picture, but then I was filled with warmth. The kind the covers you inside and out. I took out my phone and deleted the picture. I figured if God wanted me to take a picture, there wouldn't be a rule against it, but in this church, I won't need a picture to remember my stay. I had his presence to remind me of where I've been and where I'm going.

    I sat through the short service with a smile. I can't say whether or not God really came through to me at that moment, but I feel like I came through to him. We reached an understanding that at that moment, I needn't worry about things like pictures or physical memories. All I needed was an open heart and a ray of sunshine. Sometimes that's all you really need.
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