Category Archives: San Francisco

Clean Money

My grandmother had grown up on a farm where she was probably comfortable with animals and “good clean dirt.” But when we knew her she had lived in the city for a long time (not The City of San Francisco, though) and was comfortable with us washing our hands quite frequently, especially if we had handled “dirty money,” i.e., all money. She wore gloves quite a bit, for different purposes. It’s very easy for me to pull up the image of her holding her soft leather driving gloves that she had just removed, which kept the fragrance of her warm and soft hands.

When my sisters and I visited her from our farm in the Central Valley she would take us across The Bay Bridge to The City. We dressed up in our finest and made a day of it, though I have no memory of just what we did there. Today I was made to wonder if she took us to the Saint Francis Hotel for lunch, because she would have liked the fact that they keep their money clean.

As a proper housewife I appreciate the use of soap and water and the impulse to keep things fresh and sanitary for the health of my family. Probably even the saint for whom the hotel is named wouldn’t have turned down a gift of soap. Or money, whether clean or dirty.

Advent Retreat in San Francisco


The skies were gray above, the asphalt and sidewalks dark and wet below, but colors jumped out at me as we were leaving Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco this afternoon.

 Two of us had traveled to attend lectures by Father Alexander Golitzin on “The Advent of the Christ.” Father Alexander is Professor of Patristics at Marquette University, and the lectures were rich with references to ancient Judaic texts, little-known Persian Christians in the 4th Century, the Dead Sea Scrolls, New Testament scriptures and the beloved liturgical hymns that tie our salvation history together into a whole.

My heart and mind didn’t want Fr. Alexander to stop, even though I had the feeling as of a voice saying, “Whoa — that is a bit much to feed me all at once.” I left the cathedral worn out and happy, holding my notebook full of scrawls that I hope to meditate on further.

The flowers, though….they must be part of the large family of metaphors that tell about God taking on human flesh, entering our world as an infant at a particular point in history. Something about beauty and color and brightness breaking into the winter.