Was Gaudi destined to be, well, Gaudi?

I’ve just had one of those “life will be different from now on” moments.  There aren’t many in a lifetime.  This one isn’t on a par with my conversion to being a Jesus-follower.  That’s the Alpha moment.  But it’s a biggie nonetheless.

Knowing that some things that we feel don’t translate well to others, and knowing that I don’t want to translate some things to others (they’re too personal), I still want to talk about the impact that seeing some of the architectural wonders of Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) has had on me.  For I won’t ever be the same.

Barcelona is “all about Gaudi,” and that’s why I went there last week.  I read an article in National Geographic that came with a fold-out section on the uses of nature’s forms in Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona, and I booked a flight.  It was a little more complicated than that… but not too much so.

Several things about Gaudi are arresting to me:

  • his contention that “to be original is to return to the origin” (i.e. to God’s creation of nature) and therefore his groundbreaking use of geometric shapes found in nature
  • his sure knowledge that he saw things that others did not see and had to put them to use in his modernist expressions in spite of the fact that it was perhaps intimidating to be so original
  • his faith speaks through the stones and materials of his works (the Sagrada Familia basilica but also Perdrera and Casa Batllo and others) — I didn’t find it possible to imagine this as commissioned work so much as acts of worship
Yet the legacy to me — from Gaudi — is that it feels that he was born to do this.  When I came home to research him more, I wondered if perhaps we had taken our (admittedly pejorative) English word “gaudy” from his work (which is, even in its beauty, a bit gaudy as well as controversial, with many detractors, including George Orwell).
So as I was doing a word study on “gaudy,”  I was dumbstruck when I remembered that the Latin “gaudium” means “joy” and that “gaudere” means to rejoice.  For this is a man who was rejoicing.  And creating with joy.
And thus it feels that he was born, or named, to do what he did.
I must reflect more on what I was born to do.  I have ideas.  In fact I have some deep-down certainty.  Maybe it’s related to my name, though the name I married into means “to chop wood or to deck someone, knock them out.” Perhaps there are metaphorical applications.
But we are all born into purposes, given roles in God’s kingdom on earth — things that we are uniquely qualified by story and circumstance to address for purposes of redemption.
And what Gaudi can teach all of us is that when we know that we know what we know and that it’s true, even if not the conventional wisdom, that we must act on it.  Here is a plaque quoting his thoughts on that:

Once he saw it, he had to do it.

He’s changed me.  His works arrested me, stopped time for me.  Enjoy a few:

~ by Cary on May 26, 2011.

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