Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cathedral Parque...updated

During the past couple of weeks, Nancy and I have had the opportunity to "tour" Antigua. One of the more visible sites to see is the Main Cathedral on Central Park or "Parque Central". By many measures this is an incredible structure of man. As with many of the ruins in this city, this church has been built, shaken by earthquakes, rebuilt, shaken by earthquakes, and rebuilt... you get the idea. This location has housed a church since 1543 when the nations capitol of Santiago de Guatamala was relocated to this spot of present day La Antigua.

From the front of this structure you see a beautiful facade facing the park. It has several cement statues representing the different saints and such. I just found out this week that the statues in the front facad are a continuation of the polytheistic worship that dates back to the ancient Myan religion. There are those who have grown up in Antigua that have been taught that if they could not afford to attend the services in the Cathedral then they should worship the statue/idols that are placed in the front of the facad. This follows a more strict tradition during the time of Antigua's colonial heyday. This is the main entrance to the present day chapel that houses many religious artifacts that date back to colonial time periods.

While this magnificent wonder of construction is amazing, it is only a fraction of its previous glory. The present Cathedral does hold regular mass. But the structure that at one time consumed an entire city block; included several cloisters, offices, housing, etc., is now almost the same city block full of old brick and mortar, and a few city offices and shops that have encroached into the space. Today you can go into what was and see remarkable architectural designs and construction. It is unfortunate that man's designs could not and did not stand up to the ravages of a regular cycle of "natural disasters".
You can see what colonial religion may have been like. There are several burial chambers to visit as seen with Nancy in the right side of the frame.

This little excursion brought to mind what it means to work so hard in the mind of man, only to become a monument of what was. I know that sounds kind of heady but think about. From the side of Central Park you only see a magnificent structure maintained and looking pretty good for 400+ years old. (I can only hope to look so good at 400. I can only hope to live to be 400 years old). On the backside, you see the results of the wear and tear of continued physical abuse and damage.

Isn't that how many of us have dealt with ourselves. From the front we always have the smile, but behind the facade, in our hearts, we are empty ruins with evidence that something happened in our space. Isn't it great that through God we don't have to carry the emptiness of our past. And what may have been a devastation leveled to us through our sin can become a point of healing and growth.

It is not my intent to "spiritualize" the "Antiguan" experience. This is one of these random thoughts that correlated to the sites we saw. But a very simple comparison to the fact that men with many gifts in structural design and artistry have come and gone thtough the years as has their work. All of which honors the God that has been there the whole time and more.

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