continuing adventures in architecture

February 6, 2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in writing | 20 Comments

The problem with developing an interest in architecture is that people see you in the street motionless gawping in awe at some old building. There are three beautiful churches in my neighbourhood and the architecture of each reflects subtle differences in the mode of worship, the relationship between the worshipers and their God.

Originally, the only architecture I knew anything about was the architecture of water and trees but neither of these are environments created for human habitation. Nevertheless, I think living in a house made of water and trees would be very pleasant. Perhaps I have read too much Percy Shelley but I began my adventure unsure why God would want us to build monuments to her in stone.

Eventually I gathered courage sufficient to venture into one of those awe-inspiring buildings. There I experienced beauty carefully contained, highlighted and protected, light fracturing through stained glass windows, arches leaping skyward as though supporting heaven, and of course, the actual church, the people.

I do not think it will ever become my preferred method of worship. Like the Romantic poets before me, I am more comfortable in solitude and nature.  Everyone must discover beauty their own way and hope fully assist each other to do so. The feeling I would suggest you reach for, the way of thinking that seems most like worship to me, is gratitude. And when I experience the architecture of those churches, that is indeed what I feel.


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  1. A body of water, a simple vessel to cross it when the mood strikes and wild creatures for comfort. I get what you are saying Paul and of course, the architecture of a church or a hovel is I suppose our need to replicate that which we cannot even fathom, the mind of god. I really loved this.

  2. This post, these words you’ve artfully gathered here, satisfied my soul today. Thank you, Paul. Thank you.

  3. I know exactly what you mean Paul!

  4. Beautiful post. I have been thinking a lot about gratitude as well. Gratitude is a healer.

  5. “The ancients always said that poetry / is a stairway to God. Perhaps this is not so / if you read mine. But the day I knew it / was the day I found my voice again for you, let loose / in a flock of clouds and goats / broken free from their corral to nibble at the foam / of blackthorn and marshgrass, the lean faces / of the moon and sun confounded…”
    a bit of my translation of Montale’s SYRIA…the cathedral of the sky. Architecture at it’s best directs our eye and redefines how we envision enclosed space…nice series of thoughts. Grazie.

  6. You seem to have been taking lessons from Shelley, the way you have worded this post. It’s beautiful, a tribute to nature both of the earth and of humankind. I’m grateful, too.

  7. Lovely post Mr Squires. We are not supposed to worship icons, but what is a church? You are writing my thoughts as usual and I am always lacking courage when it comes to enter ‘awe-inspiring places’ or even up market shops for that matter. I’ve seen many churches in my travels throughout the world and many have left me breathing deeply in gratitude for their amazing architecture. It is a good way to feel.

  8. I recommend the book Pillars of The Earth. Really explains the whole cathedral building experience.

  9. Fabulous thoughts, Paul. Any space that we can express beautiful thoughts within is a space worth gratitude.

  10. i’m glad you experienced the inside as with the outside. faith, no matter where you put it, is at its most beautiful in gratitude. i love the highlights and details of the inside. it reminds me of the inside of a heart.

  11. I went to Notre Dame and experienced what you described in this post

  12. Well said. Thanks.

  13. Lovely, Paul. Indeed gratitude is a beautiful way to worship.

    I, too, think living in a house made of water and trees would be very pleasant. 🙂

  14. very well said! One must find beauty their own way, i did after being separated from someone i can truly give my life for, and in some obscure way i have gratitude for i might not have realized how beautiful she is had i not been forced to distance myself…

  15. Beautiful. Thank you for recognizing that the universe is primarily female (wink wink- the She God reference). I would love to come visit you in your tree and water house, how beautiful that sounds. I always wanted a glass house under the sea 🙂

    PS yes, “everyone discovers beauty in their own way” I can’t agree more…I also think everyone is also beautiful in their own way.


  16. I wonder what you think of Zen gardens, that also combine natural and artificial elements

  17. I never thought of water and trees as architecture and for that I am grateful.

  18. Paul… that last passage really hit me. Hope there is and will continue to be much beauty in your week.

  19. what better worship place than the one design by the Being himself?

    But yes, our places of worship and rites are a mirror of ourselves in the measure in which we are determined by our cultures…

  20. Paul, your work is outstanding this year, this is another piece of immesurable beauty. when i think of gratitude we have this silly family creed “attitude of gratitude.” to ensure we share all our good fortunes 🙂 on churches/temples I am touched by the beauty and the many hands that came to create such beauty, on worship I am with you give me the sun moon earth sea or sky and I commune with the “great spirit of life love etc???”

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