The importance of spirituality in everyday life
Today, while visiting Barcelona, I wandered through Gaudi’s famous architectural wonder, La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family). Conceived in the late 1800’s by Antoni Gaudi, Catalan architect, it has been under construction for over a century. It is still being built, but much of it is completed. Gaudi, a deeply religious man, created a vast sanctuary with columns made to look like tall trees, which hold up the ceiling of the church. The tops of the columns have edges that look like leaves. He designed windows to bring light into the church so that the inner building would look like a forest canopy lit by the sun. Walking through the church feels like strolling through a great forest, surrounded by colored light filtering through the leaves.
The doors to this basilica are adorned with intricate sculptures of ivy with ladybugs, flies, and praying mantis’ perched on the green ivy. Gaudi wanted us to remember that even the smallest creatures have their place in creation.
While it’s filled with Christian imagery, Gaudi conceived of it as a sanctuary for all peoples. He imagined a space where visitors and worshipers alike would feel connected to the oneness of all things. (Take a tour--http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/)
It’s not necessary to have a spiritual tradition to feel part of something larger than yourself. Lie on a blanket looking at the night sky on a clear summer night. Look up at the vastness above you--the stars, the planets, and the galaxy. It’s easy to feel a sense of awe and wonder.
Take a walk through an old growth forest, look around you, and feel that the trees create a shelter that covers and shields you. Stand on top of a mountain or at the seashore and sense the quiet majesty around you.
It’s this awareness of spirit or oneness that helps us maintain perspective on our own lives. We are a tiny part of something much larger, like a drop of water in a vast ocean. It is our connection with this vast sea that helps us remember what’s important. It helps us realize that we are part of all that is around us. This provides us with a sense of interconnectedness that gives life meaning and purpose.
It reminds us to take care of ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and the world we live in.
Poets, philosophers, and theologians try to explain and describe this mystery. Each one of us experiences this feeling using our own particular metaphors or beliefs—whether they be through Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Krishna, or simply communing with nature. It’s all an attempt to explain and describe this primitive element of life.
This awareness of oneness creates the counterpoint to our sense of self. Both are important. Both co-exist in the same moment.
Living in the Northwest, we frequently have low cloud cover, that casts a gray tone over the Puget Sound. But simply ascend in an airplane just a few thousand feet or less, and it’s a beautiful sunny day. The sky is a perfect blue.
Looking up, I see gray clouds, but I also know that above those clouds is a perfect sunny day. Both exist at the same time, in the same moment. It is easy to forget and lose sight of that perfection. When we do, we forget that we are part of the beautiful creation of life.
Find you own way of keeping this awareness at the center of your everyday life, whether through prayer, contemplation, or meditation. It’s just as important as taking care of our bodies through healthy living or taking care of our loved ones.
You won’t be disappointed.