Cathedrals – The dictionary says that the word cathedral comes from a Latin word meaning “seat.” The seat referred to is the seat of the bishop, who is the leader of a group of churches related to the cathedral. The bishop’s seat is both a metaphor for the cathedral as the bishop’s “seat of power” and his actual chair, the “cathedra,” inside the cathedral.
I recently viewed a Top 10 list of the ‘Must See Before you Die’ cathedrals of the world. That list highlighted a variety of artistic architectural masterpieces of worship including the Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and the Kremlin Cathedral in Moscow … and to be honest the pictures are beautiful but I’ve never personally been to one of those places. I’ve also been listening to a new CD that I purchased a while ago; the new release from ‘tenth avenue north’ aptly titled ‘Cathedrals.’ So as these two artistic mediums of photography and music began to blend and influence me, I begun to wonder more about the concept of cathedrals or temples, and a variety of thoughts and questions began to surface in me.
Questions like: How old are they? Will they last forever? Have they been restored? How much did that cost? What’s more important; the outside or the inside? Is ‘beauty’ in the eye of the beholder? Are they sacred? What happens on the inside? Is anyone welcome? And so on. It was then that I was reminded of the scriptures and how we as Christians are in fact compared to cathedrals or temples. See 1 Corinthians 6:15-20, Ephesians 2:19-22, and 1 Peter 2:5. Over the next few weeks I pondered those verses and I came to this conclusion:
I believe the true beauty of humanity cannot be found on the outside! It can’t be, because just as time eats away bricks and mortar, and as the paint begins to peel from the walls of a building, we too fade! Golden hair becomes white and the smoothness of young skin disappears. These things are of the ‘shell’ and for the eyes only. It’s what’s on the inside of us that matters! I think Mother Theresa is a great example of this. The real treasure is of, and for, the Spirit. It’s about the heart ‘cathedra’ and who’s seated there. It’s about our actions and what we’ve done for others that matters. Can our love for each other be seen? It’s about the goodness that remains when the building is gone. I think it’s a selfish thing to build a temple, no matter how glorious it is, that doesn’t allow anyone inside. After all, like the song from the ‘tenth avenue north’ CD says; “we are a dwelling place!”