Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Orbs - Strictly Unorthodox!

Oh dear, I'll get myself arrested one of these days!

I was chatting with a friend last week and she happened to mention the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens. Needless to say, I pricked up my ears. A Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Kensington? This was news to me. You can imagine where my thoughts went next . . . might it have any orbs . . . ?

So this morning found me setting off for Ennismore Gardens. I don't know whether you know the Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sophia? It's an immensely imposing building tucked away in an unlikely setting. Rather hesitantly, I pushed open the door and went inside.

It was beautiful . . . shadowy, serene and numinous. There were icons everywhere. It was also totally free of any commercialisation. No post-cards, no booklets, no CDs, no counter near the door with a vigilant church watcher. It was a sacred space in which everything appeared sacred. From my point of view, the chief drawback was that, unlike in an Anglican or Catholic cathedral, there were no rows of seats where you could sit quietly and remain unobserved. Chairs ringed the walls, but to sit in them was to be extremely conspicuous.

A robed man (was it the bishop?) was standing praying at the central altar. Another priest was praying in front of an icon on the far wall. A cleaning lady in a demure headscarf, who looked very Russian, was hard at work polishing the brasses. An opportunity to take photos seemed remote. You couldn't take a photo of a priest at prayer, it would be an intrusion. Yet the whole atmosphere was so conducive to orbs . . . I felt very frustrated.

It was then that I realised that, if I moved slightly, my view of the two priests would be blocked by a pillar. The picture wouldn't be very revealing, you wouldn't see the altar - so often the place where an orb is to be found - but at least I could take a photo without anyone noticing or being disturbed.

I moved . . . I quietly took out my camera . . . I took a photo from this unpromising position . . . and I hastily returned my camera to my pocket.

Second later the priest at the main altar walked quietly out of the cathedral. Moments afterwards, the second priest did the same. Now there was only me and the cleaning lady. Greatly heartened, I crossed to the other side of the cathedral where I would get a much better view. I hoped to take at least four photos to give the orbs a chance.

Hardly had I had time to settle in my new seat than a total newcomer entered the cathedral. He was a big man, a rather burly man. He walked across to me in a purposeful fashion. Clearly he spoke no English, but his miming was universal! With eloquent hand movements he showed me in no uncertain terms that photography was not allowed!
"No photographs . . . ?" I enquired, a little nervously.
He vigorously shook his head.
Then, along with the cleaning lady, he, too, left the room.
I was all on my own.
You've no idea how sorely I was tempted. It would have been so easy to take a few photos, there alone in the cathedral. No-one would have known. But I had given my word, not only that, I suspected that the orbs would not co-operate if I were to be wilful!
Sadly, reluctantly . . . feeling that I had missed a golden opportunity . . . I left the cathedral and headed home.
Past experience has now taught me that you rarely get an orb from just one photo. The chance of that one, snatched effort at St. Sophia's producing anything was remote.
I arrived home and, with little hope, connected the camera to the computer . . .

You can imagine my delighted amazement at seeing a beautiful orb over the central window, another fainter one on the pillar. and several shadowy ones in the background!

Thank you, St. Sophia!!

(a week later)

And that isn't all, just look at these photos - taken shortly afterwards at the annual Animal Service at Christ Church.

We've already discovered that orbs are attracted by happiness, by worship, by music . . . I think, don't you, that we can now safely add that orbs share our affection for animals!

(See London's Orbs click here)