Timeless Masterpiece or Masterpiece of the Times?

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                            Leuven, Belgium

Reasons for Travel & Exploration:

Adventure (entering the unknown)

Diverse cultures, religions, foods

Meeting new people & communities

Developing broader world views

Seeing beautiful landscapes & architecture 

 

Let’s open up that last point for a moment. When in Europe, I was often shocked by the amount of breathtaking architecture, churches, pantings, mosaics, cobblestone streets, statues, fountains and stonework. The amount of manual labour required to create these masterpieces, is hard to imagine. These men and women would spend their entire lives perfecting their trade. Some would spend decades on a single piece. What dedication to their work. What a vision for beauty.

In North America, we have a instant, one time, throw away mentality. We design, create and produce for efficiency and short term use. This is extremely evident in the way we mass produce clothes, cars, appliances, houses even. We want to get the best price, so we compromise for quality. We compromise for beauty.

I would go so far to say that our culture, especially the North American culture, has really robbed itself of beauty. In our hopes to make financial gains and the latest findings in technology, we lack vision for the future, for what is breathtaking. A church is better to be white, plain and simple then to waste money. A shirt is mass produced to be sold at low prices. A car is made to last for 15 years not 50.

I think it’s worth while to consider the way we  view material goods, creation and beauty. Pope Francis has written the Encyclical, “Laudato Si” about the environment and the current status of our world. He really urges us to care for the globe, to care for one another. Not to become a die hard tree-hugger, but to really ask ourselves if we care for the generations ahead? Are we only able to see what in front of us, or do we have a vision for whats to come? Do we spend time investing in the masterpieces of the times? Has the latest technologies, the cheapest investments, the fastest means for growth and gains consumed us? Or, are we striving to create and foster a culture of  timeless masterpieces? Do we invest in people, in the ancient trades and traditions, in the practices that are humane and community oriented?

Generations have gone before us, modelling this culture of beauty. When we look at the cobblestone streets, the museums filled with historic artwork, the churches filled of marble and gold, we get a glimpse. Perhaps this is what draws us to travel. We are drawn, like a magnet to these places of beauty. We desire a culture founded upon human connection, authentic dedication, genuine efforts and a vision of beauty.

“Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. Yet we are called to be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness” ( Pope Francis, Laudato Si # 53)

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                         Czestechowa, Poland
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