The Dom here in Aachen is amazing. It does not have the exterior magnificence of the Cologne Dom, but inside it is tremendous. I arrived and there was a service. The organ, my God, how amazing to have its tones running through my head and against the walls. The low octaves of the register surrounding me, clinging to me from every side. The short pipes ring out like bells.
The ceilings, such an amazing and intricate collaboration of squares in blue and gold. Such a small place, surprisingly. But it moves, thrusting forward past the altar to the high windows rising and glowing.
From what genius of mind come such places? Places exalted not just in their form, but in their function - of drawing together, of lifting up. Can this come from man alone?
Think of all the places celebrated by mankind. The great cathedrals of europe, the pyramids, the parthenon, the Angkor Wat. All these constructions of man, the most celebrated houses in all our history, all of them houses of worship. How does one doubt God, whatever that is for you? Man alone does not make these places.
I think it is the inspiration of the spirit that lives in us, inspiring their creation, construction, completion. Not only in the one who designs, not only in the one who provides for it, the spirit must have moved through all down to the most humble mason and laborer. Giving them the movement and inertia to make these intricately grand machines.
Now, you may argue that indeed man alone is responsible for all of this. Perhaps you are an atheist, or a pessimist, or you believe that such inspiration is not a widespread and regular thing.
So consider again these houses of worship spread through so many cultures and times and places. And consider that all of them are for the bringing together of people. That is what worship is, in any religion in any culture - worship is a gathering of people. Indeed, that is the Christian definition of a church. A church is not a building, but the people gathered there. It is the people, all of us, who together are all the body of Christ.
You may say that religion is a drug, an "opiate of the masses." You may argue that all the money, all the energy and effort directed into these gatherings of people may be better spent on other things, tangible things like research and science and homes and sewers perhaps.
But are these the thoughts of mind closed to life? Of whatever religion, one must have faith. Faith that all of this is something real, however little we may comprehend it. And you say that is the sign of a closed mind, a mind that does not question but merely accepts what is given as the "truth."
Yet I am sure your life has plenty of its own faith.
How many times have you wondered what love is? I'll ask you, "what is love?" But it is such an amazing and wonderfully beautiful thing that there is no answer from you. We know there is this great thing called love, but it is indescribable and without definition. But we accept it nonetheless, and celebrate it when we have it.
How different is this? All of the energy and effort writing poems and books and letters and painting pictures and chiseling stone - because of love. Are all of these things wasted because it is for something intangible, out of the reach of our hands and minds?
Knowing God is knowing love. It is there, and it is felt when you open yourself up to it. To love someone with all your life is such a leap. Faith in God is such the same. And how is it that one loves with a closed mind? One cannot. Love is not a closed minded thing. This is because love is not a personal thing living alone inside you. Love runs through the people you share it with, and back through you, and on into all of us in this world. And you must open yourself to love, as it comes back to you and changes you and makes a smile come to your face.
God happens in the same way: Living in me, living in you, living in everything all around. God brings things closer, life love, and we don't know why or how it all happens. It is there, a part of life, and to live without knowing it is there is to live a short live.
You accept love into your life. Indeed, love is something you may yearn for very very much. But you do not feel God reaching to you, you don't feel the desire to know this great thing of life. If you don't feel all of this then I am very sorry for you.
I feel sorry because God is Love. Both are inseparable, unexplainable, mysterious and wonderful. And both are so dearly needed in the world, in our lives. Just as love makes a cloudy day full of sun, and opens new sights to your eyes and new feelings to your heart, so does God.
Faith is not the disease of the closed minded, the addiction of the weak. Faith is the gift we all have, and in it's celebration the world can come together towards you, unfolding and expanding and becoming so much more wonderful day after day. It is the love God has for us, for giving us this wonderful place to be. And our love for him, for giving it all to us, for this day and this place and these people. This is God.
But it is a difficult thing, because it is so simple. To know and feel it is all we can do. To understand it is an exercise in frustration. Don't try to understand it, but rather celebrate it.
You say to me "Who is this God to be celebrated, when war and famine and fear and pain are around every corner of the world?"
Perhaps, I think, that is has nothing to do with God. God is in all of us, whether we know it or accept it or like it, God is in everyone. And loving God, then, is about loving other people. But there are so many who only love themselves. Have you ever loved somebody, somebody who didn't love you too but only themselves? It is a very painful and hurtful thing. And that is the very evil of this world: people who can only love themselves and not others.
Asking "How does God allow this?" places the responsibility in the wrong hands. It is not God's doing, but our own. And it is our calling to fully love these people, and in doing so showing them how to love others.
So don't look for God in the vaulted ceilings, the sculptured columns, or the tiled walls of these grand places. He's not there. He's down on the floor with you, with me, with everyone all around. Look not for God, but for others. Open yourself to them and in them you will find the love that is God to be in yourself.