This is my first story in the New Year, 2020. Many people start the New Year asking questions about the coming year. Most of them have to do with our day to day life. But some go deeper. In the last few weeks, I shared some of my experiences and thoughts with you, from our trip to Iberia in October – November last year. This trip and encounters triggered some questions for me, which I would like to share with you.
The proper way to pose a question about belief would be to ask myself, “In what do I believe?” However, after our trip to Lisbon, Portugal, and number of cities in Spain, including Barcelona, during which we visited many beautifully designed Catholic Churches, Cathedrals and the Sagrada Familia Basilica, which means Holy Family, and whose designation was changed from “Church” to “Cathedral”, and in 2010 was declared basilica by Pope Benedict XVI. The construction of this place of worship was started by the famous Barcelona architect, Antoni Gaudi in 1882, and is expected to be completed in 2026, one hundred years after Gaudi’s death. Millions of people, regardless of their religious beliefs visit this marvelous unfinished architectural marvel, and pay money to buy tickets, which covers the cost of the construction. When we were in Lisbon, we visited a beautiful service with a singing choir. When we stepped inside, I witnessed men wearing business suits putting on beautiful robes, and they were suddenly transformed into religious officials; while the visitors crossed themselves when seeing them. In Barcelona, I saw a young woman enter a church, dressed in a blouse, which barely covered her breasts; she crossed herself and as quickly returned back into the world filled with young people and worldly temptations.
According to the information I found online, church attendance is going down in Europe and the USA,) and many churches are forced to sell their buildings. Turns out, this is not a new phenomenon. I discovered the famous Portuguese poet and writer Fernando Pessoa in Lisbon, Portugal. I bought a number of his books translated into English. His book “The Book of Disquiet” which was written in the 1930s, starts with the sentence, “I was born in a time when the majority of young people had lost faith in God, for the same reason their elders had it – without knowing why. And since the human spirit naturally tends to make judgements based on feeling instead of reason, most of those young people choose humanity to replace God.”
The architect Antoni Gaudi died on June 10th 1926, after being hit by a tram. The last words he spoke were “Amen, my God, my God”.
Do you believe in a God? Who is it? What do you believe in?
P.S. Originally I wanted to share some of the snaps of Gaudi’s work with you, but I realized that it would not do his work justice. You have to visit Barcelona (buy tickets in advance to see the beauty). Do we need marvelous architecture to practice our beliefs? This is your choice. But we all believe in the beauty, for which we do not have to travel far away.
These four images of flowers are from my 2020 calendar, which I photographed, designed and sent a limited number of copies to my recent clients.
Make 2020 A Great Year, enjoy and share with a friend!