My religious beliefs and practices are my own and are no longer rooted in the church. So, when I went to church recently by my own desire for the first time in years, I was a little surprised by the number of things the church and the experience actually reminded me that I believe in:
I believe in architecture and the way the hardness of a stone floor can remind me of my physicality and groundedness - with cold feet and mild pain - and by contrast the way a soaring ceiling can pull my eyes and my thoughts upward and beyond my body and my self. I believe in vaulted gothic pillars and high, pointed arches that make me feel physically small with their scale and with their sense of history that reminds me that my time as part of the creative, human story is minuscule. I believe in dramatic lighting and its ability to add texture and fullness to the form surrounding me.
I believe in music and the ability of a booming pipe organ or a delicate piano to inexplicably make my heart race or move me to tears. I believe in acoustics that can take the reverberations of a singing choir and sync them to the energy within me, melting my form as the sopranos take flight, my spirit in tow.
I believe in stained glass and the artisan’s ability to filter natural light in such a way that I actually stop and pay attention to it, its source, relative intensity - the ways glass and light can make the artisan’s vision dance warmly on my retina in potent contrast with cool, bland, stone walls. I believe in the rose window and its circular reminder of the infinite. I believe in its fractal patterns that remind me that we are all parts of a whole - and in that whole, there is order.
I believe in the creative, spoken word and its ability to analyze familiar parts of stories, fractals of human history, and twist and turn them in new ways to generate new reflections and understanding - to pique the intellect or move the spirit. I believe in symbols and metaphors that help us rethink and reframe small stories of daily life and large stories about the meaning of it.
I believe in sitting still and being reflective.
I believe in art.