Mausoleum of the Cathedral of Christ the Light
on January 1, 2019
The Cathedral of Christ the Light stands on a big plaza in Oakland where people are sitting on benches and lawns, talking to each other, or drinking coffee between meetings. Students come to study under the sun. Children are running along the lake and near Children’s Fairyland on the other bank.
Inside the cathedral, three people are praying in silence in front of a giant image of Christ. Some come and go to see the unique wooden architecture of the building. Others come to pray before they have to run back to their work. The woman at the reception desk is quiet, focusing on some papers, looking down without noticing anyone. On the right of the entrance, a sign indicates the direction to the mausoleum: downstairs.
Although outdoors the sun is up and people are lying on the grass, inside the mausoleum, it is silent and the air is cold. The entrance is made of dark grey stones, like a grave or a crypt. It is dark, but the light comes from behind. In the back, at the end of the main corridor, an image of the crucified Christ stands in the light. The circular room is made of several corridors that look like a maze. I can only hear the sound of my own steps.
Underground, memories are everywhere, haunting the room with dead lives from the past. Written on the walls, the names of people buried here correspond with their smiling pictures. Diverse objects, like flowers and artifacts of their lives, accompany each photo of them looking at us. Every resident has his or her own space, with or without a neighbor. Their faces printed on the photographs will be here for the rest of time. Silence reigns. You don’t want to break it. Actually, I sneeze and apologize.
The marble, which is everywhere around the mausoleum, gives the impression of immortality. The lights reflecting on the white walls are like spotlights highlighting the names of the dead. The room is so quiet that you can almost feel the silence around you. It’s a mix of different feelings: serenity, respect and discomfort. No sound, no movement, no noise … it is like walking in a picture. Life has left here. Life is upstairs with the prayers, and outside with the sleepers on the grass.
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