a holy space
by nature, i am a privately religious, perhaps more spiritual person, preferring to have my conversations with God while lying in bed at night, rather than at Sunday mass.
however, i love big churches and cathedrals with their majestic declarations of 'here is God!' the architecture, the art and the sculptures are breathtaking. pillars of the earth by ken follet is one of my favourite books. i can feel the hundreds, thousands, millions of prayers echoing around me as i walk through them. touching the ancient walls of these places makes me feel the weight of the never-endingness of faith. and always i am awed by their monumental size and presence; me a speck on the floor looking up at Brunelleschi's dome in Florence
i don't find them holy.
i feel history and beauty and magnificence, but i don't feel holiness. so, what then is 'holiness'? well, to me,
a quiet tempering of faith which is simple and humble.
there's a scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where, when faced with a table of exquisite goblets, he had to pick the holy grail. Indy reached through them to select a simple wooden goblet. that hand carved wooden cup has stayed with me for years and somehow strangely proclaims, holiness. it just wouldn't have been right any other way.
i feel holiness, in more intimate places. a tiny snow-covered church in a small town up in the Alps, the bright sun shining through the beautiful stained glass windows; the blackened intricate interior of Chartes with its mismatched spires; the breathtaking beauty of Sainte-Chappelle where light and colour play a symphony for the tired soul. and finally,
on the roof of the duomo in Milan
i had stood on the ground gazing up at that imposing, towering cathedral, head craning back as far as it would go, blinking rapidly against the shafts of sunlight piercing my eyes. the delicate statues perched over the roof of the duomo arched impossibly into the brilliant blue sky. i felt so very small. i was up on the quiet roof for a long time. with the wind ruffling my curly hair, there was a sense of great peace. i was closer to the sky and felt the quiet vibrational pulses of holiness around me while the celestial saints, martyrs and prophets floated above my head reaching for the heavens and having their own conversations with God.
i think i feel holiness in these places because, there is nothing to distract from the simplicity of faith, even with their enormous beauty. but to me, the most vivid, earthy and singular representation of holiness is the graphic stunning simplicity of the
church of light by tadao ando
... and i can't wait for the day i can be in that space