So, I told you about how Barcelona awakened the playful side of me (Spiritual Journeys, 2nd Stop, Barcelona). Here’s the rest of that story. I was also profoundly blessed to be set into the middle of a poem of praise that both awed me with its grandeur and calmed me with its simplicity.
The city streets of Barcelona that I had spent some time on were energetic and youthful. Everything was full out—colorful, loud, in-your-face but with a smile and a sly invitation to engage. But while that personality of the city turned me on and won me over to its charms, it was the strong, silent type that gained my true and deep love.
Sagrada Familia. There are hardly words to describe this almost mythic cathedral begun by Antonio Gaudi in 1883, taken over by others with diligence and devotion after he passed on, and which is still taking its spires to the heavens today as construction by master architects and artisans continues. Somehow even its incompleteness defines it. How can one house the Infinite in anything that has a limit? How can one worship divine Life in a place that doesn’t make the very sky feel small and confining?
As I walked toward this great temple, neck craning in an impossible posture, mouth wide open with amazement, I felt something already stirring.
The day was hotter than Hades, but heaven was calling me in. We waited in lines, asked questions in English to people who only thought they understood us (they certainly tried more than I did to learn Catalan or Spanish), and circled the great temple several times before the right door and the right time got us in, sweating and ready for a respite from the heat.
But when we entered, all those mere mortal sensations paled in comparison to the touch of something so much greater. I was a willing victim to the absolutely overwhelming sensory magic of the seemingly boundless church. It was a forest primeval. It was a living painting. It was giant with a heart of gold. It was intricately, artistically, meticulously designed and yet with the feel of a monk’s abbey, blown up to embrace the profound majesty of their silence.
It was a powerful and poetic dream come true! I loved it!
I had visited other ornate cathedrals in Europe, monuments to God and also often to garish displays of worship. Most of these churches are very beautiful and I certainly felt a holiness in many of them. It is hard not to, as one feels at the very least that the hands that built these architectural masterpieces were doing it in the name of God and with His inspiration as well. But often the obvious worship of the church’s wealth rather than God’s spiritual plenty, made me feel a little less reverential and a little distracted from the sacred intent.
But, I felt different about Sagrada Familia. It had a glory that felt almost natural, and its design was modern, and yet with a symphony of divine flourishes and artistry to keep one feeling they were in the presence not only of a space of unfathomable size, but one that was divinely inspired as well, that some very unique little angels had a hand in.
The place was mobbed, but it seemed in the great sanctuary as well as in the little turns and nooks and small areas within, I was able to easily grab a moment with the Lord…again and again. I don’t know that my fellow tourists had the same experience, but this is my story, my journey, and I surely did! The breath-taking and breath-giving force of this place left me changed—awakened, stirred, touched in a way that felt like divinity coinciding with humanity, the spiritual and the sensual revealing a moment of connection.
I knew this short visit wasn’t going to be my last. I would have to return to this place, and regularly retreat to the inspiration that came to me while there. I was beginning to see that the Cathedral life was not meant only for time spent in inspiring physical spaces, but it is that infinite possibility that we all have within, only needing to be stirred by a receptive heart. I am continuing to recognize and cherish that God knew what She was doing when Sagrada Familia welcomed me into its space. This magnificent Cathedral moved me to the core and told me something important—a truth for me and for us all. The experience was an intentional invitation from the Divine (not the first or the last such invite, by the way) to see more clearly what was already within me, within each of us; to mirror what my own true soul looked like—expansive, serene, elegant, simple, natural, resonant, beautiful, compelling, and perpetually growing upward in the unlimited skies of Life!
This blog contains my own personal recollection and experience at the Cathedral and what it meant to me. This National Geographic article gives much more detail on Gaudi, his inspiration, the building’s history, and the completion date. It’s a fascinating story!:
I hope you enjoy some of my reflections and insights into discovering who we truly are and why our most authentic self is one that needs to be let out of the box to soar, to sing, to live abundantly and freely, poetically and powerfully! If you’d like to explore more of the possibilities for your life, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to provide a free consultation and get you started on the very best days of your cathedral life!