Wabi Sabi - a way of looking at the world with a kind of quiet insight, to find beauty, even in imperfection.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sacred Dissonance

Sao Bento Church and Monastery
The churches in Rio de Janeiro (as in other cities I've visited) are breathtakingly beautiful. But awe-inspiring as they are, they caused a dissonance as I sat and admired the gold trim, imported marble and hardwoods, sculptured statues, stained glass, and oil paintings.

The style and art of a church often depends on the level of prosperity in society at the time the church was being designed and built, as well as the relationship of the church to royalty at the time. Most of the churches we visited in Rio were built in the 17th and 18th centuries, a period of Portuguese royal rule.

Church of N.S. da Candelaria

But as I admired the splendor all around me, even felt calm and peaceful within the walls of the sanctuary, I also couldn't help but wonder: if a major role of the church is charity, how can such opulence be accepted?

All I know is, I didn't feel the presence of God any more so in the ornate churches than I do outside, surrounded by nature.

Trees outside Sao Bento Monastery