The Grotto


I have to first give you this disclaimer: I am not religious. 
I have complicated feelings about religion in general, as someone who was raised without it, but I do have an appreciation for sacred spaces and religious art. 
I stumbled across The Grotto on accident - I took a wrong turn while driving and pulled into their parking lot to turn around and was immediately confused. What the heck was this place?
So! In an effort to explore the mysteries of Portland, I brought my pal Emily with me and we hiked through the garden shrine that is The Grotto.

The first level of The Grotto is a walking path that's punctuated with bronze depictions of Jesus's journey. I'm going to be honest with you - I'm kiiiind of a joke cracker when it comes to stuff like this. Mostly it was me trying to be funny and wondering aloud about Jesus's teenage years (but really, what was he up to???)

The enormous cave shrine with the pieta was my favorite part of the whole experience. It reminded me of some places I've been to in southern Mexico. There's something about the ancient-ness and mystique of a cave. This part really felt like a sacred space that should be respected. On each side of the cave were racks of candles, many with hopes and prayers written on the sides.
Out of everything that we saw, this felt like the most special and unique place of worship in The Grotto.

Then we decided we had to get the full Grotto experience, so we paid the $6 (!!!!) to go up the cliff face in an elevator to the second level. We packed ourselves into the elevator with an elderly couple and a lone hipster guy and listened to a cheerful little message about God that played over the PA. Once we got to the top, we meandered through garden-scapes and pathways until we found a little monastery.

Right in front of a monastery is the perfect place to take a casual outfit photo, right? Couldn't resist, the building was so beautiful.

Had to get a shot of St. Francis, the only saint who ever had a presence in my upbringing. We always had a little statue of St. Francis in our garden (he's the patron saint of animals). 

The view from the top was gorgeous.

So what did I think overall? This is a lovely place to come if you'd like to commune with nature and have some quiet time to pray. I'm not sure that the cost was really worth it to go up to the second level, honestly. And the gift shop was a little strange (they didn't have any cards of St. Francis!).  I'm happy I came here and found another little odd Portland place. 

On to the next exploration!

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