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The Lake News Online
  • The godly in Gaudi - a visit to La Sagrada Familia

  • In Barcelona at La Sagrada Familia, Christ on the cross hangs under an illuminated umbrella, suggestive of a jellyfish, suspended almost invisibly in midair over the main altar. I had finally realized my longtime dream to visit Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece cathedral. The wonder of originality is truly the language of God.
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  • In Barcelona at La Sagrada Familia, Christ on the cross hangs under an illuminated umbrella, suggestive of a jellyfish, suspended almost invisibly in midair over the main altar. I had finally realized my longtime dream to visit Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece cathedral. The wonder of originality is truly the language of God.
    Awesome. And I don’t use the word lightly, as in “that was an awesome hamburger.” La Sagrada Familia is mind-blowing. What a near impossible feat it must have been for Gaudi to express a vision that had no equal or previous reference.
    The cathedral’s exterior is like a melting cake, towering and fanciful, with stark sculptures carved against apparition-like details.
    I can imagine early potential backers saying, “You want to do what?” Gaudi knew time would work against him seeing final completion, but as a deeply religious man he said it was in God’s hands.
    It remains so. One hundred and thirty-one years after Gaudi’s architectural commission in 1883, the building continues long after his death in 1926.
    It’s hard to wrap my American mindset around a possible 200-year building process.
    In comparison, The Big Dig, Boston’s major infrastructure overhaul, took 25 years to complete amidst howling over the length of time and expense. Que milagro! The perseverance required!
    The basilica is a phantasmagoric collection of wonders.
    Inside I felt a sense of softness, roundness, the circular embrace of a lofty but maternal hug, so different from the straight angles and imposing countenance of Gothic cathedrals elsewhere in Spain. Gaudi’s inventive details symbolized spiritual riches, not gold, silver, or masterpiece paintings.
    There are strange spiraling staircases and far-fetched shapes suggestive of the natural world, flower faces, branches and plants. It’s whimsy overload, and the architect’s name is the origin of the word “gaudy.”
    Originality sets up familiar things in new ways, and Gaudi’s designs made me think of God as infinitely playful.
    Colored light shines through immense stained glass windows.
    I take a neck-aching look at ceilings filled with flower-like flounces, stars, portals, giant gold buttons and embellishments.
    The phenomenal geometry suggested to me the impossible complexity of God.
    How did Gaudi envision such originality if not without divine help?
    We each have a purpose even in the face of criticism or to the naysayers’ drone of “It’s never been done before,” or more often, “It doesn’t work that way.”
    A scripture talks about how God marks the places and times where we will be and why. Acts 17: 26-28 says, “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
    Page 2 of 2 - For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”
    Experiencing genius turns one’s thoughts to God. Spiritually, the poetry of imagination is an inherited trait from the divine, and I took away this lesson.
    To be original is to channel the highest of divine expression.

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