A few short stories about light in one’s life.

To an ancient person, light is a life-sustaining gift from a distant bright god. To a modern person, light is electromagnetic radiation that can be detected by the eye’s retina. To an artist, light might be some of both . . . and much more.

When I write, I’m never certain what precise thing light represents. In many stories it seems to symbolize a life-sustaining hope, or a radiation of the spirit detected by the heart. It might signal a burning love, living with eyes wide open, or intangible rays from beyond that define life’s shape. A glimpse of ultimate truth. A bright gift that is magical, momentary, precious.

I don’t know. What is light to you?

Following are seven short works of fiction where light is an integral part of the story:

Light at the Edges

The Firefly

One Lone Candle

One Strange, Shimmering Dream

How to Paint Angels

A Dance in the Lightning

Walking on Light

Photos inside the historic Ohr Shalom building.

On Sunday I enjoyed a tour of the Ohr Shalom building in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood. The historic 1925 building, acquired by the Ohr Shalom Synagogue in 2002, was one of many sites around the city that were open to the public during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

The Ohr Shalom building was designed by architect William H. Wheeler, who is also known for downtown’s iconic Balboa Theatre building.

According to description provided by the San Diego Architectural Foundation: “With its dominant Moorish-style dome suspended high above an octagonal sanctuary embellished with Middle Eastern decorative motifs, the Synagogue . . . is one of the foremost examples of Mediterranean Revival, an architectural style that caught momentum around the mid-1920s.”

I learned that the synagogue was originally built for Congregation Beth Israel by M. Trepte & Son. It is constructed of steel-framed concrete and hollow clay tile, which was innovative for its time. Inside the sanctuary, which features a free-standing balcony, the lines are clean and simple, and worshipers are touched by light shining through the dome and a variety of stained glass windows and panels. Illustrations in the beautiful glass include the Ten Commandments, the menorah and Star of David, and a depiction of the twelve tribes of Israel.

During our tour we were allowed to stand near the pulpit. We were privileged to view one of the Torah scrolls and hear a sample of its reading.

Here are some photos that provide a feel for what it’s like to enter the Ohr Shalom Synagogue.

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History and faith at St. Agnes Catholic Church.

On Saturday I stepped inside St. Agnes Catholic Church. It was one of three sites I visited in Point Loma during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

Donna Alves-Calhoun, author of the book Portuguese Community of San Diego, told me a little about the history of this church and the people whose lives are deeply linked to it.

I learned that an original church was built in 1908 by Portuguese fisherman families that had settled in La Playa, near the entrance to San Diego Bay. It was difficult for them to travel to Old Town or La Jolla to attend church services, so they built a small mission church in Point Loma.

In 1933 the new Mediterranean-style St. Agnes Catholic Church was built at the same location, using funds donated by the crews of local fishing boats.

The beautiful church’s bell tower was decorated with an illuminated statue of Our Lady of Good Voyage, which could be seen at a distance. Like a beacon it guided the Portuguese fishermen safely home. I also learned the extraordinary stained glass windows were made in Ireland, and the religious statues placed in corners of the church are from Italy.

After I moved around the church, looking up at the ceiling and its dark wooden beams painted faintly with tulips, Donna explained that many Dutch settled in the Azores. Like many who have descended from San Diego’s Portuguese fishermen, she herself possesses a measure of Dutch ancestry.

During the annual Festa do Espírito Santo celebration, a crown kept in a glass case near the altar, symbol of the supreme dominion of the Holy Spirit, is brought with other holy objects in a ceremonial procession from the U.P.S.E.S. Chapel and Hall to St. Agnes Catholic Church. The bringing of the “Coroa” remembers an historical gesture of compassion by Portugal’s beloved Santa Isabel, the Peacemaker and Holy Queen.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Beautiful sanctuary of historic San Diego church.

Today I visited six truly amazing buildings in Bankers Hill and Balboa Park. All six are featured locations in the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2018 OPEN HOUSE event.

I enjoyed fascinating looks inside architectural gems–special looks the public seldom experiences. I took lots of photos and intend to tour a few more iconic locations tomorrow. So I have a lot of blogging to do the next week or two!

My very first stop this morning was the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego, located in Bankers Hill on Date Street, between Third and Fourth Avenue. The friendly church manager greeted visitors at the front door, and he was very nice to give me a short tour inside the building.

The first thing I learned was that this is actually the First Presbyterian Church’s third structure in San Diego. The initial congregation came together in 1869 in what was then called New Town–now downtown San Diego. The first church structure was built at Eighth and D Streets on land donated by Alonzo Horton. As the membership grew, a second church building was begun in 1887, on property adjacent to the first. Unfortunately the land boom of that time soon came to an end. Somehow that building was completed in spite of financial difficulties.

The present building, the focus of this tour, had its first service in 1913 in the Assembly Room, about a year before the amazing sanctuary was finally completed and this third church was dedicated. Located near the base of Bankers Hill overlooking downtown, the imposing cathedral-like structure incorporates huge stained glass windows that were preserved from the previous building, including the exquisite central panels Christ the Sower.

Sowing seeds of compassion in our community, the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego makes it a point to feed many of the homeless downtown–almost 250 souls every Sunday. These good folks practice what they preach.

Like many grand old churches, the exterior of the present-day building might appear a bit worn by time and weather, but the interior, with its warm wood and glowing stained glass at every turn, seems like a tiny glimpse of heaven.

I must say I was really impressed by the grace, grandeur and beauty of the sanctuary. And the kind smile of my tour guide.

View of the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego from Fourth Avenue. The stained glass window shines its light into a very beautiful sanctuary.
View of the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego from Fourth Avenue. A large, historic stained glass window shines its light into a very beautiful sanctuary.
View of the church's south side along Date Street.
Partial view of the church’s south side along Date Street.
Plaque on building indicates the First Presbyterian Church was erected in 1913.
Plaque on building indicates the First Presbyterian Church was erected in 1913.
An historical photo near the church office shows the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego about a hundred years ago, in what was then considered the outskirts of town.
Historical photo near the church office shows the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego about a hundred years ago, in what was then considered the outskirts of town.
Entering doors that lead to the magnificent sanctuary.
Entering doors that lead to the magnificent sanctuary.

The church's nearly 6,000 pipe Casavant organ rises like rays of silvery light crowning the chancel.
The church’s nearly 6,000 pipe Casavant organ rises like rays of silvery light crowning the chancel.
Heading up some handsome stairs near colorful stained glass. We will emerge on the sanctuary's balcony.
Heading up some stairs near colorful stained glass. We will emerge on the sanctuary’s balcony.

One of the finest examples of stained glass in San Diego shines light into the historic church.
One of the finest examples of stained glass in San Diego shines light into the historic church.
A scene from the Bible, to the glory of God.
A scene from the Bible, to the glory of God.
The likeness of Christ, created in memory of one of the faithful.
The likeness of Christ, in memory of one of the faithful.
A place for religious faith and worship. Amazing beauty inside the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.
A place for religious faith and worship. Amazing beauty inside the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Play and work, sadness and time.

Youth play soccer in San Diego's Waterfront Park. They are competing today in the Neymar Fives Soccer Tournament. World champs get to meet the Brazilian superstar.
Youth play soccer in San Diego’s Waterfront Park. They are competing today in the Neymar Fives Soccer Tournament. World champs get to meet the Brazilian superstar.

As usual, my walk today provoked a whole range of feelings. The four simple words: Play, Work, Sadness, Time . . . they describe a few photos that I took.

Those basic words we all understand.

Scrambling for the ball. Joy in movement, camaraderie, friendly competition. Youthful ambitions.
Scrambling for the ball. Joy in movement, camaraderie, friendly competition. Youthful ambitions.
Neymar Jr.'s Five soccer competition includes amateur teams from more than 35 countries.
Neymar Jr.’s Five soccer competition includes amateur teams from more than 35 countries.
Recreation on the green grass one promising San Diego morning.
Recreation on the green grass, one promising San Diego morning.
Strolling down the Embarcadero. Pirate Days is coming to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Let the invasion begin!
Strolling down the Embarcadero. Pirate Days is coming to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Let the invasion begin!
Containing many pleasures, the Disney Wonder cruise ship is docked in San Diego. Seen from the deck of the Star of India.
Containing many pleasures, the gleaming Disney Wonder cruise ship is docked in San Diego. Seen from the deck of the very old Star of India, where countless lives have been tossed by difficult seas.
Volunteer on Star of India is preparing to hoist this plastic cap up to the top of the foremast, which is open and exposed to the elements.
Volunteer on Star of India is preparing to hoist this plastic cap up to the top of the foremast, which is open and exposed to the eternal elements.
Other volunteers are working hard atop the forecastle. Ships require constant work, constant attention and care.
Other volunteers are working hard atop the forecastle. Ships require constant work, constant attention and care.
Climbing carefully up to the very top of the foremast to apply a protective cap, to prevent exposed iron from rusting, decaying.
Climbing carefully up to the very top of the foremast to apply a protective cap, to prevent exposed iron from rusting, decaying.
A writer sat here. Words purposefully put down . . . or discarded . . . or forgotten. Many thoughts lie alone by a bench near the water.
A writer sat here. Words purposefully put down . . . or discarded . . . or forgotten. Many thoughts lie alone by a bench near the water.
The weathered old hands of a sleeping homeless man.
The hands of a sleeping homeless man.
Time-faded monkeys still cling to the wall of a parking garage on Laurel Street.
Time-faded monkeys still cling to the wall of a parking garage on Laurel Street.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you like to read short pieces of thought-provoking fiction? You might enjoy checking out Short Stories by Richard.

Priest on steps of historic Old Town church.

priest on steps of historic old town church

I was fortunate to get this great photograph while walking past the Immaculate Conception Church last Sunday morning. (Yes, I did a lot of walking last weekend!) It’s located directly across the street from the colorful shop in the previous blog post.

This historic church in Old Town was built in 1917, and its bell tower contains one of two original bells from the centuries old San Diego Mission. The other bell can be found at Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley.

I believe that’s a Catholic priest by the front steps with his hand on an elderly gentleman. It’s a warm gesture and a beautiful photo!

Here are more pics taken on later dates…

Man looks up at entrance to church.
Man looks up at entrance to Old Town church.
One of the original mission bells.
One of the original San Diego Mission bells can be seen in tower above.

IMG_7548z

IMG_7560z

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!