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I have had many experiences that changed my outlook towards life. One of them was when I went to London, England. It was called St. Paul’s Cathedral. I had never been to a “cathedral” before, and I didn’t especially care to go and look at one. But my coach made me, and when we got there I heard a voice in my head yelling, “You’re going to hate this!” Regardless I was there and without chance to leave, so I figured I might as well try to appreciate it. Boy, am I glad I did because as I stood at the bottom of the enormous concrete steps towards the doors of St. Paul’s Cathedral, I looked up and noticed the resemblance to the capitol building. The dome on top the building looked as if it just kept going all the way to the heavens. Sitting almost on top of the dome were four statues, each pointing true North, South, East, and West. The statues of the Virgin Mary, made of gold, immediately caught my eye. I couldn’t help noticing their beauty, as I looked upward.
The doorway to the cathedral resembled an enormous Indian arrowhead. There were sculptures lining the inner arches of the doorways. Each sculpture was done so intricately it looked as if it was the sculptor’s crowning achievement.
On the outer edge were carvings of angels all the way to the top. Each one stacked above the other and all in different poses. Just to the left was the next row of sculptures, this one of people standing one above the other playing instruments. The third row was much like the first, of angels, except every sculpture was different and each looked frozen in time as if it was waiting for the perfect moment to come back to life.
Directly above the doorway was a three level carving. The first, on the bottom, was of common people, all facing towards the center and looking as if they were begging for forgiveness from God. The second level, done on a much larger scale, was of the Disciples of Christ. Dressed in robes and all sitting down in chairs with their scruffy beards looking outward as if they were a council ready to judge me. The third level was of Christ himself. Angels, all praising him and tending to his every need surrounded him.
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Once inside the Cathedral I passed the front desk that happened to be taking donations. I, of course, generously donated, fearing that if I did not give every cent I had to my name, God would send a lighting bolt aimed at the top of my head. Once past the front desk I continued on towards the main hall where literally thousands of people were all looking about at the Cathedral. Even with all those people, it was so quiet you could have easily heard someone tying their shoe.
There were pillars made of solid marble that extended to the top of the ceiling, seventy-five feet in the air. As I walked around I looked up for whatever reason, I noticed that the dome was visible from the inside. Some famous painter, DaVinci or Michelangelo or someone of that magnitude painted the inside of the dome. It was so detailed that even the smallest creature in the picture looked ready to jump out and bite me. The picture had columns that separated it into separate parts. There were seven all together. Each of the seven was of St. Paul, and each picture depicted the seven adventures that Paul went on in the Bible. The pictures were so massive that even though they were over a hundred feet above me, I could read them and understand exactly what the pictures meant. It undoubtedly was the greatest work of art I had ever seen next to life itself.
I went to the top of the dome to view this ultimate masterpiece at a closer scale. I walked up a hefty flight of stairs to a narrow circular platform that sat even with the ceiling of the rest of the cathedral. I realized it was ten times more beautiful up close. A worker there told me that if someone were to yell directly across the opening of the platform it would never make it to the other side. However, if one simply whispers against the wall of the dome it will travel the circumference of the circular platform and you can hear your own whisper as it travels around at the speed of sound.
Back on the main floor, I looked at the various tapestries and sculptures illustrating the church’s great wealth, all priceless works of art but none as beautiful as the altar. It rose all the way to the ceiling and was made of solid gold. At the crest of the shrine was a life-size golden statue of the Virgin Mary. This was almost as stunning as the paintings of the dome. She stood atop the altar constructed for her son, and held her hands out to us as if she was trying to silently tell us we should follow in the path of God if we wanted to go to heaven. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity staring at all the beautiful works of art some people devoted their entire lives to. It helped me realize there was an entire side to life I had yet to explore. Church was a place not only of God and purity, but a historic testament to life hundreds, and even thousands of years ago. And with that I left, embarking on life with a whole new perspective and appreciation for things that I never before gave much attention to.