You find yourself in sunny Barcelona…on the south coast of Spain.
You have massive amounts of wax so you do what you’re expected to do with massive amounts of wax. You sculpt the facade of a cathedral. You include all the alcoves for the saints and the angels and the biblical scenes of the Old Testament. You include images of the New Testament because you are a God-loving person and a visionary mystic.
Then you stand and view your waxen model of the cathedral. Standing back, you turn a hot hair dryer on the wax. It begins to drip. When the drops solidify you’re happy.
I agree, it’s a bit of a long lead-in to the impression I had when I stood outside the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. But it’s hard to find words to describe the architectural style that made Antoni Gaudi such a visionary…breaking the rules of traditional church architectural style. Things seemed to drip, and drip into the right place.
When I entered the Basilica, the interior was something I may have dreamt about in another lifetime. I’ve been in dozens of English Cathedrals and Anglican churches. I’ve been in Russian Orthodox churches and the great mosques of Istanbul. Many hours have been spent in Notre Dame in Paris. I don’t mention these things to boast–only to put things into some kind of perspective. Nothing prepared me for the sights inside the Sagrada Familia. My eye had too many places to look. The neck had too many angles to cover. The colors, the fluid shapes…the uneven nave, the Christ, hanging above the Altar.
I had to sit down. I had to try to take this in— a tiny bit at a time.
It was not going to work. I needed more than a few hours. I needed days, weeks, months…maybe longer…to fully grasp even a bit of what Gaudi was striving for.
I left. I looked back and imagined the melting wax. I was deeply moved, not so much by the religious aspects, but by the mind that had such a vision…such a vision that I failed to grasp its true meaning.
Maybe only Gaudi knew. Legend has it that he was walking backward, looking at the early stages of his creation, the Basilica , when he was hit by a tram and died in a nearby hospital…at the age of seventy-four.
Perhaps he had a new thought about how to solve a problem in the construction. Perhaps he was lost in a vision.
Perhaps he wanted to talk to his God and get some final instructions.
[All photos are mine}