Worshipping in ‘the spaciousness of a forest’

Last week I wrote about Richard Holloway’s comment that ‘walking is the new church going’.  His comments resonated with me for a number of reasons.  One of the less obvious reasons was due to our recent holiday in Barcelona.

Amongst many other marvellous sights and experiences, we visited Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.  Before our visit, it was on our ‘must see’ list even though I had some nagging doubts in my mind.  I was sure that the architecture and design would be fascinating – and it was – but I was a bit wary that it would simply be a tourist attraction, with none of the elements of church that I look for in cathedrals etc.

It’s fair to say that I was stunned by the atmosphere.  Despite hundreds of tourists being in the building at any time, there was a sense of respect observed by (almost) everybody that I came across.  Whatever your religious beliefs, I think it would be hard not to notice a distinct aura to the place.  The outside of the building is spectacular with wonderful details everywhere you look; the inside is breathtaking in its spaciousness and the way that light infuses it.

“The intimacy combined with the spaciousness is that of the forest, which will be the interior of the church.” – Gaudi

My conclusions?

  • If you’re in Barcelona, make every effort to visit the Sagrada Familia.
  • If you’re looking for a place to draw near to God, be open to possibilities.
  • A walk in the forest may be as good as place as any to find meaningful communion with your Maker.
  • Above all, your attitude towards worship is more important than your location.

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