My favorite part about our world is discovering the "why" behind things. Like "why" a certain person acts the way they do - what's their background, their influences - which is exactly "why" I'm an Intercultural studies graduate (note: I graduated from Northwestern on Saturday, eek!). Or, I get thrills when our choir director, Timothy Sawyer, explains the theological underpinnings to the songs we're singing - "this piece has x measures because it symbolizes x" or "when you line up the test of this piece its in the format of the cross, which means x". Or even, how architects intentionally design buildings, not just for aesthetic beauty, but in a way that intentionally incorporates history or biblical meaning - like the Cathedral.
The second you walk into it you know - this place was made for God. I don't mean that it even touches the beauty of the palaces in heaven, it is a rotting abandoned building in comparison - I just mean that the architect built it in hopes that God would understand he was trying to honor him, in his small way. That being said, it is a magnificent place of worship. The second you walk it, your eyes shoot up - up to the dome, up to the murals, the artwork, that shimmers like the sun as light hits its angles. You can't help but feel: there is something greater than I. The historians of the Cathedral tell us that,
"Four massive piers support the dome. At the top of each pier is a 25-foot-high mosaic, each with an angel representing one of the four cardinal virtues: Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice. At the base of each pier is a 12-foot statue of one of the four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The symbolism here is unmistakable - just as the piers uphold the Cathedral, the Word of God upholds the Church"
In a world where everything can have a different meaning depending on the person, where definition is determined by the whim - where reality slips past us, and we find ourselves groping in the dark for validation, I find monuments to truth, like the Cathedral, an inspiring reminder of the real Truth. For so many years, I took for granted the things I'd been taught by believers and mentors over me - but the closer I come to their age, I understand bit by bit, that knowing the true Story of the earth, of us, of God's people, makes all the difference in the world.
All this time I've been trying to tell you about the wonderful day I had with the College Choir on May 9th, but my heart felt the need to exposit first. Well! As a choir, we gathered at the Cathedral and entered into it, completely awestruck. We rehearsed - the sound was glorious, it kept ringing - like angels were echoing back (which may sound cheesy, but you would understand and agree if you were there). Not only was the following concert beautiful (thank you Lord for the packed pews and encouraging faces), it was more than a concert. In high school choir we strove for excellence, but never discussed the significance of our pieces, it was "perfunctory" and all for the sake of music. That paled in comparison to worshiping God with choral music, and meaning every word of it. To know and love what you sing and who you sing to! To have a purpose for it, a meaning! So sweet. There I go explaining again!
But probaby the most delightful part of the day was our lunch break, when I gathered with other three alto friends for a stroll along Summit Ave. to the park outside the Minnesota Club. Each house was unique and HUGE. "What could someone possibly do with all that space?" - Brianna Agreed. Despite that, we laid out our packed lunches and picnic baskets in a "goose-dropping-less" spot and were entertained by the reading of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Shakespeare poetry, and a funny young man exhibiting his juggling skills besides the statue of the large eagle. After we explored the streets off of Summit Ave, through alleys, past gardens and gates.
Everything was literally golden in the setting sun - naturally we researched nearby apartments when we got home. We even stopped to talk to an older couple gardening in their front yard - she was planting yellow and red border flowers. We told them about our upcoming Baltic tour and they told us to steer clear of conversations about Russia. Toward the end the adventure, we found ourselves walking down Western towards Selby, unknowningly heading straight to Nina's Coffee Cafe and Common Good Books. I showed the girls around and we hid ourselves in a nook by the travel books in the back of the bookstore - they were sadly lacking in Baltic tour guides, but we amused ourselves with photography journals and a Garrison Keillor joke book.