Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Secular and Sacred

To me, the most spiritual places in the world are not intentional places of worship to but those that are secular and embody the garden stone shown above that is next to my sterling silver roses. Embedded with the Confucian proverb that out of crisis comes opportunity, I am reminded of how true that is in my favorite secular, spiritual places. I prefer the Collesium, with its legacy of human sacrifice as entertainment in a nation that now codemns the death penalty as barabric, over the Vatican. I think the Palace of Fine Arts, with its mourning women atop the columns and testament to the lost San Francisco, far more spiritual than Grace Cathedral.

And it is Grand Central Terminal that I consider to be one of the most spiritual places in the world, a convergence of people from all walks of life, a secular cathedral of comings and goings masking the less grand trains and tracks that rest beneath this sanctuary of Beaux Arts grace and light. Watching the excellent documentary this week on The American Experience that Joe.My.God referenced,

It was born out of crisis after a horrific train accident forced the Vanderbilts train empire to make travel safe and civilized. I was reminded of how it has endured a horrific Abe Beam era attempt to build a ghastly office tower on top of it. If Jackie O has no other legacy worthy of her being an American princess, it is her efforts to save the building that led to greater appreciation of preserving the past. Grand Central Terminal (despite its often being misnamed the departed Grand Central Station in Chicago), is the ultimate case of utility gaining a secular holiness. Every time I walk through it, I get a sense of being a part of something far greater than the sensation of touring Trinity Church, Sagrada Familia or even Ellis Island. A century old marvel that is as relevant, functional and glorious as when it opened, it is a reminder of why I refuse to chase certain marvels of progress when something of such grace still functions.

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At 6:46 AM, Blogger kimy said...

I love this post - I identify so completely. I too find places like grand central and ellis island incredibly spiritual places. it is that convergence of people, energy, the genius that created such a place, etc. oh I am bummed that I missed this documentary. I hope I can find it being rebroadcast.

At 6:47 AM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

That was a fantastic documentary. I love 'American Experience'.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger CornFedBoy said...

Grand Central is being talked about on a couple blogs. I posted a video of it this morning. Quite the topic I guess, or am I missing something

At 1:40 PM, Blogger Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Kim - I think it will air again this month. You can also view it online through the link on my site.

Salty - American Experience often has some great docs. I loved the one they did on Tupperware a couple of years ago.

CFB - That's a great video. Grand Central is one of those places that is so familiar yet still manages to amaze us.

At 4:06 PM, Blogger kimy said...

yeah! the grand central show is being rebroadcast sunday evening here - and right before this amerian experience is another on ny underground - two hours of nyc historical spectaculars! considering the high may be in the teens on sunday, sounds like a good way to spend the day. thanks for the head's up. somehow I can't see watching a whole hour show on the computer.... luddite that I am, I'm sure.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Kim - I was a three hour marathon when broadcast on KQED - NY Underground, Grand Central & Brooklyn Bridge.

At the risk of coming across a public TV junkie, there was a great piece on Bogota, Colombia, last night and how the city has been going through a remarkable transformation in recent years. Very encouraging to hear about a gorgeous city that has known so much tragedy the past 30 years.


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