I walked to the 8:30 am Quaker meeting. Very cold. Today isn?t about the wind. Today isn?t about the squeaking ceiling fan, like it was several weeks ago. Today is about the cold. And today is about the sun.
Watching the sun beams again the north wall of the meeting room is pleasant. The low winter sun projects through the windows on the south wall and the east wall against the north wall. The individual panes of the windows project squares of light against the large areas of white sheetrock on the north wall.
At first, a bit of the left edge of the project light square is on the wooden frame of a north-wall window. In a few moments, the projected light square is entirely on the empty wall space between the windows.
At first, I can?t quite make out which of the windows on the eastern or southern walls is generating the projection. The sun and it?s projected light against the wall are like a teeter-totter, and it?s fulcrum is the window.
There are more complicated optical things going on?there are rays of light, like those from a magnifying glass, those less intense. There is sharpness and blurriness to the light. Sometimes the light wavers and flicks with shadows of clouds or blowing tree branches. The intensity of the light goes from bright white to gray, from sharp focus to blur, and back again.
I am sitting in the southwest corner facing diagonally across the room to the northeast. Directly across from me is a woman who is also drinking coffee. I feel odd about bringing in coffee?I have never done that before. I try extra hard to sip quietly. I correlate drinking coffee in the meeting room with medieval clergy smoking during Mass. But the House of Mercy has fresh coffee brewing in the vestibule, and I am sure many other churches do too. You want the congregants awake for the sermon.
The coffee woman across from me gets up and leaves?presumably to go pee. More then a few grins.
Two guys are asleep. No one is snoring yet.
Continuing to contemplate the sun and the room, I do some mental estimation as to the size of the room. I have done this before. The acoustic panels high on three of the four walls appear to be 4 x 8 feet. There are eight of them.
Imagining that there could be room for another one on each side, I estimate the room?s width and length to be forty feet by forty feet. The ceiling is not forty feet high, though. It looks like there?d be room for another row of panels directly below and about the wainscoting, which I guess to be four feet high. My estimate of the height of the room is twenty feet.
At the end of the service, I am talking to R., who is blind, but know the place inside and out. He was on the committee that designed the meeting room. I tell him how much I enjoy the windows and the sun. We talk of the acoustic tiles and how it seems ironic to me that dampening the sound makes it easier to hear people speak.
Somewhere in the conversation of the room, he mentions the height of the ceiling?eighteen-feet, six-inches, and comments that the extra six-inches meant the waste of a lot of drywall. Amazing.
I was overjoyed to hear that there was to be singing after meeting. There was a pianist there at the grand piano that sits usually covered in the corner. We had hymnals, we had a number. We sang the first song. But then, we were asked to comment, which several people did. Charlie was especially moved by the third verse.
Finally, we sang another. Then it was Betsy?s turn to pick. She asked if anyone wanted to comment. I couldn?t stand it anymore and left.
Contrast Quakers after a song asking Would anyone like to comment? With the Sacred Harp singers, who, when it is their turn, leap up and run to the center, calling out the page number of their song, so as to not waste a minute of singing time.