Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sail me

The most recent issue of Image magazine had an image (hey, hey) on the cover that made me quit multi-tasking – which for me would be 1)  walking and, 2) carrying - a handful of mail to the kitchen counter where I sort it. I thought what is that?! It looked like a sail rising from a glassy sea. 

It was a surprise to learn it was a parish church specially commissioned and built by the Vatican in the year 2000 - a year of jubilee. They put out a contest, and an American architect, Richard Meier, won it. I’m attracted to this church and can hardly say why and wish like anything that I could see it in real life as it stands or sails past the edge of Rome. The author of the article in Image, takes us there attempting to give us the scale and setting of the building itself and its relationship to the surrounding community.

I was fascinated that the architect, about whom I know nothing, said he envisioned a fishing boat, something familiar to Christ’s early disciples. Not icebergs, as some have thought, but “the triune God, in the form of three nested sails of white concrete, which billow above the congregation, guiding, protecting Peter and the people of the church on their voyage of faith as they sail on into the twenty-first century.”

The author writes: “Much of the church form has this quality of inviting understanding while resisting thorough explanation, of presenting rigorous order but only taking it so far.”  That makes sense to me. Or not sense exactly? But the way it is? I find that on Sundays as I participate in our church services and as I take communion, prayerfully inviting Christ to be one with all that I am – to belong fully, to be thankful in adoration of his body and blood, I also want to anchor somewhere visually, really. It eludes me. Partially because for all our efforts to anchor our thoughts and to know God in our places of worship – there will always remain mystery in God’s presence with us.

Representing Trinity with these three sails opens a vast sea of joyful longing and possibility - for me. Although we believe God can be worshipped anywhere, anytime I think here, I would be viscerally reminded of how much I want, no, make that need him to sail me through each day to the end of life.

If you Google images of Jubilee church Rome, many more will come up that give a better context of its place and size. They also give a better idea of its organic human dimensions and placement within the neighborhood.


Sarah! said...


Sarah! said...
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Stephen said...

Margie - I love your reflections on this architect's metaphor in space time, glass and stone. I love that you respond to architecture. I think when someone is able to shape a space in such a way that it communicates transcendent things, is yet another wondrous gift of God in being made in his image.

Margie Haack said...

Stephen, thank you for your comment. I wonder if many (perhaps all?) of us respond to architecture more than we realize? I've often had a vague sense of what a building or a home says when I see it or when I walk in through the door. It's an art that speaks loudly, but I haven't listened well! And now I love hearing it.

Anonymous said...

hmm. perhaps you should be on our building committee, marg. :)