Divine Inspiration

There is something so undeniably beautiful about the churches in Europe; the stories that the mosaics tell from beneath the coats of dust. I love the way the fat cherubs stare emptily into you, tiny bronze wings suspending their eternal descent from the heavens as they surround the glorified Christ–hands outstretched, eyes looking upwards towards the Father. I love the layers of gold and gems and crystal, the vibrant colors of the rose windows as the afternoon sun seeps through each pane. I adore the stern faces of the medieval saints, the large, gilded incense burners that hang like fruit from chains, the secret passageways and doors with the tiny grates that lead to the catacombs where the tombs of the revered rest undisturbed. The buttresses loom above like acrobats, each with its own little monsters made of stone, guarding the stillness.

It has been cloudy and rainy for a few days now. It almost feels like winter is coming instead of summer. I love the rain though. The city acquires a sense of darkness akin to that of Gotham during days like this. The meager sun never makes it down to the street. I feel like some sort of secret agent with my slinky black outfit. Untouchable. I haven’t felt this good in weeks. It’s like I finally feel like things are turning around, coming full circle. Karma does exist, and I feel like I’ve finally paid my dues in a way; like I’m finally allowed to be happy. All the internal negativity is lifting. The other day I stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral up the street and just sat there. I felt so much peace–a permeating stillness that lingered like a great beast in the air; the scent of tallow and burning wicks mingling in the half-light to create a portal to another world. I thought of the monastery of Montserrat thousands of feet above the sea, the home of La Virgen de la Cova. I remembered breathing that crisp wonderful air, pure ozone, as milky white clouds rolled through us, beneath us, towards the valley. All that was visible was the top of the peak where we stood, with it’s meager shrubbery, mountain flowers that bloomed in the sky. I remember holding hands and lying on the cold ground my hair disheveled from the cold, moist wind. We were on top of the world, me and you. Everything seemed so dreamy, so incredibly quiet, only the sound of distant thunder could be heard. The entire mountain was made of marble, every single rock, every pebble had in it those distinct pink veins so indicative of European nobility. The ground smelled like lightning. We climbed as high as we could go, our breaths shallow, a feeling so pure in our hearts, we were certain we had been touched by God.

The monastery below with its adjacent cathedral looked like a child’s toy. We had been in the magnificent church hours before, had climbed all the tiny steps until we reached the golden niche of the black virgin; a relic that appeared in a cave hundreds of years ago. She was pitch black, her features stern, hands clasped in prayer, exuding an aura of mystery and fanaticism. All around her were rubies and emeralds; a sparkling throne of jewels, yet she was made of wood. The stained glass windows were of such magnificence it was enough to make one kneel and cry and confess all the earthly sins. This place was so magical, so timeless, so absolutely rich. Even the floor was majestic with its mother of pearl inlays, the marble delicately arranged to form complex arabesques.

There is something so undeniably beautiful about the churches in Europe; the stories that the mosaics tell from beneath the coats of dust. I love the way the fat cherubs stare emptily into you, tiny bronze wings suspending their eternal descent from the heavens as they surround the glorified Christ–hands outstretched, eyes looking upwards towards the Father. I love the layers of gold and gems and crystal, the vibrant colors of the rose windows as the afternoon sun seeps through each pane. I adore the stern faces of the medieval saints, the large, gilded incense burners that hang like fruit from chains, the secret passageways and doors with the tiny grates that lead to the catacombs where the tombs of the revered rest undisturbed. The buttresses loom above like acrobats, each with its own little monsters made of stone, guarding the stillness.

There was a point in my life when all I wanted to do was preserve this beauty for generations to come. I remember walking the large halls of St. Peter’s Basilica, amazed and exhilarated by the sheer grandeur of everything. When you look up at Michelangelo’s duomo, the Latin inscription looks so small and then you realize that the letters are 14 feet tall. There are mosaics in this place that look like oil paintings ever from three feet away. It is impossible not to feel as if art is divinely inspired, derived from a source so pure that it could only be God. Michelangelo once wrote to his nephew:

“Many believe, — and I believe — that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him.”

I am deeply moved by beautiful things. A tidal wave of feeling wells up inside me when I experience something beautiful. I can’t explain it. It’s like pure distilled emotion, as if I’m communing with the artist who created the work. Art gets under my skin in such a wonderful way. I feel blessed to be able to feel this type of intensity and doubly blessed because a stream of creativity flows through me.

I was lucky enough to see the Pieta back in 1990, months before it got smashed. The news came as such a shock, I couldn’t imagine who would want to destroy such a magnificent work of art. The same sense of sadness came over me when I heard about the church of St. Francis of Assisi. Looking at the news I recalled walking beneath that altar, marveling at the golden Medieval mosaics. Assisi is so wonderful. The streets are so small, barely passageways…everything is constructed of a dark stone, almost black. I mean, this is the place where St. Francis walked through everyday of his life, and his memory lingers there like an unseen presence.

Just as marvelous was the experience of climbing the spires of La Sagrada Famila, an as of yet unfinished church designed by Gaudi in Barcelona. La Sagrada Familia appears as if it alive. Every inch of the church is designed, carved, modeled after nature. From the back it looks as though it has emerged from the earth, covered in foliage and ice caps. Construction is underway to finish the church according to Gaudi’s designs. I think this place is a marvel of the modern world. It doesn’t look like anything I had ever seen before. I will have to upload some pictures, but pictures can fall so short of the truth at times! I love to travel. If it was up to me I’d live in a suitcase :)