Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I have to say that the first time someone told me I just had to make an unfinished church, La Sagrada Familia, be the one thing I saw above all other offerings in Barcelona, I was skeptical. Construction on it began in 1882 and is projected to wrap up in 2026. I couldn't imagine any modern day project that would take 144 years to complete and what it might look like at this point, so I'm embarrassed to admit that when I spent a day there a few years ago, I chose to go on a bike ride instead. Oh, I had heard about La Sagrada Familia and read about it in guide books, but at that point I knew that monasteries, shrines, churches, basilicas, cathedrals and the Vatican were in the plans for the next couple of weeks and I didn't want to tire of them, so I chose another way to spend the day. Besides, Barcelona appeared to be an easy and fun city to get around in on two wheels, so that's what we did......and it was. 

Before I went back again this fall, I asked a couple of friends if they could only do one thing in Barcelona what that would be, and both said without hesitation, 'a visit to La Sagrada Familia'. That one could visit several times and still not see enough; get as much out of it as it has to offer. So on my last birthday that is how I spent a memorable day. It is impossible to describe the enormity in scale, beauty and inspiration I found there. The sheer planning, thought and attention to detail, illumination, symbolism and story. It was an overwhelming and awe-filled experience and something that often crosses my mind still. And the one reason I was skeptical about spending time there became the one important thing that stuck with me: The fact that it is unfinished is an inspiration rather than a distraction. The realization that someone had enough confidence and belief to begin a project such as this. That he possessed the understanding, acceptance and trust necessary to work on something that surely would not be completed during his lifetime.

Recently I spent time going through photos from that day, hoping to find three or four to use for this post.  I remembered that I had an assortment that showed natural light streaming through windows or colored light resting on objects after traveling through stained glass. I considered that some of those might work well to illustrate spring or the Easter season......or the fact that I'm hoping for some really good long days of sunshine in the near future.  But as I sifted through, the ones that attracted me most were ones that showed building. Ones that included scaffolding and wires and protective draping as evidence of the construction that has gone on for 129 years and will continue for an estimated fifteen more. Ones that demonstrate and confirm growth. That illustrate that something can be breathtakingly wonderful......even whole......during its infant, adolescent and middle years. That sometimes, many times, in a project or in our lives we tend to worry and think too much about the finished piece and neglect to appreciate and pay attention to the beauty and the strength available during its building.


Leciawp said...

Well said. I appreciate your thoughts about this lovely space, and life in general.

CDStuder said...

It is an awfully holy place with a personality all its own. So wonderful, so detailed, many days of exploration would not reveal it's what it has to offer.

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