I am in Spain! I have the blessings of traveling with my daughter, mother, sister and niece. We went to La Sagrada Familia today, a cathedral of profound beauty and whimsy.
Praying in Barcelona
I am at the La Sagrada Familia,
a church conceived of by Gaudi,
an architect slash mystic
slash genius slash madman
who studied honeycombs
and tree trucks for strength,
creating one of the first cathedrals
of its scale without buttresses.
He covered the exterior with tiles reminiscent of marigolds
as the fields where the church was to be built
were dotted with them.
There are placards suggesting silencia
and a graphic of lips pursed with a finger on them
for the universal quiet sign,
but the chapel is being finished
a hundred years after Gaudi’s death,
there are hammers and machinery
cutting and polishing,
there are people wielding selfie sticks
where votives were intended.
The church is a caliente mess from the outside,
a child’s drip castle
crossed with gothic ornateness,
besieged by small sculpted animals.
In the center, it is a scandal the way
Jesus is on the cross hung under
a parasol that looks like it should
cover a tiki bar, fake grapes hanging
just out of Jesus’s reach.
The gate keeper to the temporary
praying area at first dismissed me,
I looked not serious enough with my
iPhone and short dress,
I wondered if the makeshift pews full of women
who looked like stuffed manicotti,
middle aged and bearing gold crosses,
were given the same cold shoulder.
I rebelliously closed my eyes
and shut out the chaos that surrounded me
as well as preceded me here,
an international flight,
a lightning storm at six am this morning,
the small apartment I am staying at
on the boulevard where every motor bike
sounded like an alarm clock,
my mother snoring next to me.
Jesus looked like I felt on the airplane
when I took a quarter of a Xanax
to sleep but couldn’t, the first time I had tried
such a drug, the result being not slumber,
but my skin melted,
it was tough to swallow
and my ankles swelled with edema.
Jesus felt this I thought,
the body’s drag to the earth
but also I sensed,
sitting under the stained glass kaleidoscope,
as his flesh descended,
a portal opened in his chest,
an ascension of spirit.
Gaudi was run over by a streetcar
long before his cathedral was finished.
In his later years, consumed by the glory
of his visions, he released all vanity,
and dressed like a beggar
and was assumed to be one,
when struck he received no care
and was unrecognized and died swiftly thereafter.
To reach Spain from the United States,
I crossed continents and a sea,
carried a carry on suitcase, and also regret,
for events in my life I wished recently had gone better.
I offered it up in the nave that was not.
Jesus still speaks if you will listen,
there fist bumping Gaudi,
in a church reminiscent of Disneyland,
the way you are,
the way it went down,