The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls...
There is no better city in this world to "wash the daily dust off our souls" than Barcelona. Colorful, musical, bold, irreverent yet irretrievably linked to a sacred past, Barcelona will leave a powerful mark upon us as we begin this sabbatical pilgrimage.
I have been moved by the striking Catalans, the incessant meandering avenues filled with a myriad of faces and languages. The constant aroma of coffee, croissants, and paella, mixed with the occasional waft of sewage from a passing grate.
We witnessed the evolution of Picasso's long and productive career from a classical portrait genius to an unparalleled brilliance of another kind: to paint like a child again, and reveal what lies behind the portrait. To learn to see what is truly there, found only in our imaginations.
The straight line belongs to men, the curved one to God.
- Antoni Gaudi
We were awestruck by the architectural work of Gaudi, who inspired the English term "gaudy" as describing something over the top. He succeeded at it, and has inspired generations since, artist and benefactor alike, most vividly in the breathtaking La Sagrada Familia, a basilica that looks like in sprang up organically in the middle of the city, and is growing still (it is hoped to be completed by the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death, in 2026). To stand in the middle of this vast and yes, gaudy, structure, with nary a straight line, creates an atmosphere of wonder, whimsy and power all at the same time. I'll never forget it.
David Whyte describes today's young people's "aversion to packaged revelations of a previous age, no matter how real the original dispensation." The challenge for us seasoned folk with a nostalgic grief for the world we once knew is to learn to be children again, to see what lies behind that reveals the essential truth, and to allow God to break through our straight lines in favor of new growth.
Barcelona is a great place to start.