Sunday, May 24, 2009


Kevin, our current Zach, told me that I absolutely had to see the Cathedral Basilica before leaving St. Louis. He has been all over Europe and Rome and says that this church rivals anything he has seen anywhere.

It stands as the largest mosaic church in the world, housing 41.5 million glass pieces of over 700 different colors. And this project did not come in a kit you can buy at Michael's. Artists started laboring over it in 1912 and did not fit the last piece of glass into place until 1988.
Walking in, I was instantly dwarfed by the grandeur of the building, awed by the artistry.
I couldn't get over the master plan. Somebody knew how to put all these tiny pieces together to depict a story.

A beautiful story.

Somebody took the time, had the clairvoyance and patience to understand that with time, the separate pieces of glass could come together--no, would come together--to make a picture greater and more brilliant than if the glass had just been left alone.
I know there's a lesson there.
And that it goes beyond me.

It involves us.
It involves remembrance, sure, in the same way that the Catholics light a candle as a simplistic symbol of the way in which we make room in our hearts for each other. It's a bright burning flame, a prayer; a light, that no matter how flickering, still has the final say in the darkness.

But beyond remembrance, I think we are essential to each other.

I've always loved the idea of a mosaic. This sense of collage, of everything coming together to finally say something.

Of completion.

Somebody once told me that out of all the people in all the world--both past and present and those who are still to come--God hand picked my parents, my siblings, because he knew that somehow the mix of those particular people surrounding me would be exactly what I needed.

You know, to make the best me, so to speak.

And I agree.

Add to this mix Drew, my friends, my colleagues, my teachers--the people who have spoken into my life--they've all been an indispensable part of my mosaic.
But then there is even a bigger plan that that. Someone started a project with the first breath of life and the spark of creation and that picture is still getting put into place.

It involves all of us. And we are way more than 700 colors. And this is a greater labor of love even than the 62 years it took to finish the Basilica. So it will naturally take a bit longer than that.

But still, our mosaic is becoming clearer every day.

It's becoming beautiful.

And there is peace in knowing that we are the pieces that are getting fitted. Perfectly.

There is a faith that is needed to understand that this Artist does not make mistakes.

May we all see the mosaic, may we see it as beautiful and eternal.

But when we cannot see it in each moment, let us hold fast to a belief that it is still being hewn, and though the strikes to make it fit are painful, they are transient.

Leaving behind a picture of grace, of love, of a story that moves us.

A story in which each of us are nothing if not invaluable.


jason said...

One of the tags for this post is " ST. LEWIS"

i know that's not how you think the city you are staying in is spelled, so what's up with that?

jason said...

PS. Awesome church. Love old churches like that. Think that modern churches absolutely pale in comparison to them!

Jess said...

Jason--noted and corrected.

The thing about present day churches building structures like that--I don't think there's the money for it. And then you had to wonder if that's how they should really use their money, rather than pouring it into people...

That church is truly beautiful, though; it must be lovely for people to go there and pray and meditate.

Michele said...

I agree with Jason. I know the money is extravagant, but it's a little like creation, you can't go into a church like that and not come out closer to God. And because we don't invest in that kind of architecture and painting and mosaic, will we lose those gifts? That would be so sad.

Jessica Latshaw said...

The good thing is that this church was built relatively recently--it was started in 1912 and completed in 88. So that would indicate that there is still an interest in creating this kind of beauty.

But just to play devil's advocate--god himself introduced his own son in the crude and humble manger. At the same time god also instructed Solomon to build a very extravagant and beautiful temple.

Same god, right?

You could argue that back with the Israelites, god dwelled in he temple--which I why it needed to be built as it was--but since Jesus, god dwells with people a no longer in buildings.

I think it's interesting and there is room for many different kinds of buildings.

However a friend did tell me once that if "the catholic church spent more money and resources on helping people and less on hoarding it or their own extravagances, they would be much more imclimed to listen to their message"

Another instersting point.

Jessica Latshaw said...

Please forgive all the typos--I'm on my iPhone!

Michele said...

I don't want to be argumentative, but my father is a Catholic and he has nothing but praise for all the money his church spends on the food bank and health care and lots of other stuff for their congregation. I doubt that your friend has inside knowledge on the finances of the Catholic church. People can't blame the finances of their church for not listening to the message of the Gospel - that's a cop out!

Jess said...

I think catholics are beautiful people and capture a part of gods mystery and beauty in a fantastic way. I was not trying to be offensive and sorry if I was at all--just playing devils advocate, is all. Thought it might be an interesting topic.

And I had such a great experience lookig at the basilica!

sherri said...

This is awe-inspiring, to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Did you like the Dream Center?

jessica said...

I did very much! It was great to be at a church that sings worship songs that I both know and love (blessed be the name and no sacrifice) and I loved the all around spirit of the place.

The teaching was really good, too-something I needed to hear!