It was the first European cathedral I had ever seen.
In Venice, the floors in St. Mark's Basilica are a riotous tapestry of mosaics. Each individual piece is a unique slice of marble, carted long ago on wagons and barges from every marble quarry imaginable.
From the moment you walk in, it's impossible not to follow your feet, tracing the floral, geometric and heavenly designs splayed across the floors of the cathedral. Those poor masons. It dizzied me, thinking of how many hours of labour, aching shoulders, and strained eyes in this dark, cavernous work space it took to produce such artistry.
Kyle nudged my shoulder with an elbow, unable to spare a hand from cradling his camera. I saw where his lens was focused and stood up. My mouth fell open.
The ceilings were mosaics of gold.
Portraits of saints, portrayals of biblical scenes, and passages of text lined every inch of the soaring arches, columns, and cupolas. Precise squares of precious metals and precious stones, proclaiming faith, hope, forgiveness, truth, and love.
It brought tears to my eyes.
There I was, staring at the ground, begrudging the toil of the stone masons—but one look up reminded me that this great monument, this man-made structure was so much more than its parts, its materials, and even its builders.
The Basilica was a proclamation to something greater than ourselves—a testament to faith, perseverance—and a beacon of beauty, wonder, and rest to fellow man.
Recalling this memory got me out of the funk I've been in the past week.
Because this thought struck me: we all experience frustration, discouragement, and weariness with the difficult parts of life. Some pieces of life are harder than others—and we don't always understand the reason, the pattern, the consequence. We bemoan how long something is taking; how inconvenient or difficult it is; how inadequate we feel.
But look up. Take a larger perspective of your life—or perhaps just the season you are in right now. We all have the opportunity to inspire and enrich beyond ourselves, if we can see past the hardship.
- I have a friend undergoing a difficult pregnancy with quiet courage.
- Another friend is seeking to turn over a new leaf in his life and awaken his mind through literature.
- Another friend, contrary to peers and popular opinion, is choosing to avoid the harried frenzy of post-grad job searching and simply be present with family and friends, and is waiting to see what comes.
- Another friend spent a month of her summer vacation to care for her grandfather in Montreal.
- Two other friends, who are adjusting to the loss of their mother this spring, are preparing for the 250km Ride to Conquer Cancer.
None of these journeys will be entirely smooth throughout, but it is these peoples' perspectives that makes their journeys admirable.
In this season, I have the opportunity to share a story—a story that explores the age-old themes of heroism, trust, purpose, and love.
Who has time for fear, discouragement, or complaints, at a time like this?
With the right perspective, even the most inane, chaotic, or laborious mosaic of life's stumbling blocks can build a cathedral—a beacon to inspire others to be greater than themselves.