Wednesday, August 8, 2007

One of the places I consider sacred is St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. Below are a few of my reflections following my few visits accompanied by my photography.

My first visit (Fig. 1)
touring artist
versed in aesthetics & arches
vaults & buttresses.
I was confronted
with its sheer size.
But, in the end
it felt cold
and barren of any true spiritual passion.
A container without
corresponding content.
Almost a year later (Fig. 2)
I stood outside in the cold March air
moved by its powerful architectural frame
the symmetry and texture of the brick
all while carefully protecting its ornate windows.
Portals from chaos to cosmos.
Trafficking in mystery and grace (Fig. 3)
bread, wine & water
rather than
taxis and horns.
symbol and reality.
Inside (Fig. 4)
I spent my time watching penitent
and hopeful old women
lighting votives and whispering
prayers heavenward.

Five years later
on a Saturday night pilgrimage
I wandered in after the Mass.
I sat.
I prayed.
I listened.
I heard languages not my own
German, Russian and Spanish.

All strata of humanity (Fig. 5)
equally welcomed
pass through these aisles and seats.
Within the embrace of these walls
and windows.
true human identity may be inherited.

Before me,
Or perhaps within me
that dead symbol
gulping in air
nave and transepts heaving
and filling
like lungs of some
half-drowned swimmer. (Fig. 6)

It was then
as if I were a bell
and struck
I rang into the distant vaulted ceiling
echoed off each pew
and finally absorbed into the
hearts of the surrounding humanity.
Living stones no doubt!

It is not as some have said
a sign of human potential
but God’s exalted reality made poetic.
Microcosm of a macrocosm.

I understood its majesty.
I understood our poverty.

A three dimensional
six planed
theology of stone.

From the towering height and harmony
of the spires
the strength and complexity of its forms

The distant made close.
The empty made full.
The old made new.

And I was newly aware of God.
I was newly aware of myself
my lacking
my thinness
held securely
in Christ’s sufficiency.