there was mud and snow on the stones of the path outside;
up the steps I pushed heavy mahogany doors;
winded with effort and cold in the lungs and on the lips;
my passages filled with warm air as I saw the candles;
the contrast and shock of it; I could see how someone
tired and cold and down could suddenly be made to feel
warm inside, in the glow of this place;

there were pictures of suffering greater than mine
in the gallery of glass dominating the sheer side walls;
the images shone in the backlight of the ultimate illumination;
images of warmth hung in the very air, as sunshine rays
pushed through the prisms and beamed
Technicolor yellow shafts softened with a gauze filter;

Vaulting and cavernous and monumental, all aligned
in classical design; yet sensitive and silent in all
the inside spaces; the quietness, the colors,
the mystical semi-darkness invite the mind
to fill the void with some sort of force;
with some sentinel to guard this place;
to fill the silences with some fury

The beauty and mass, the power and elegance
work on the senses to hypnotize; co-opting
asthetic admiration, transferring upon it an
agenda; making one feel small in the shadow
of a father; making one look up to the authority
engraved in the solid columns of the alter

There’s much wealth and sweat and sincerity,
in this collection of relics and stones, in the glass
and the arches and the burnished woods and iron panes,
in the gurgling pool of the bapistry and the blue-sky angels
flying above the alter dome; there’s much religion here
but I come to worship the light tones; the fingers;
to linger upon the beauty of the carvings in the stones

c. 2001, 2008 Evan Gilling


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