I was introduced to an amazing man while visiting Barcelona this summer. He is not your typical European gentleman. He was not dressed in fine linens. His hair was not coiffed, nor his nails neatly manicured. Rather than strut like most in this city, he shuffled. Some even called him a gruff old man, but that gruff old man confirmed for me a few very important things I believe deep down inside of my soul.
The first is to never judge others. To watch this man pass by, one might think he were homeless and might even struggle with a bit of a mental disability--when in reality he was a genius architect. Those eyes saw the world like no others. I like to think I would have sat on a park bench with this man, who despite the endless loud critics, created buildings, neighborhoods and a park the likes the world had never seen before. We would meet at a cafe and talk about the 40 years he spent crafting La Sagrada Familia, the most beautiful basilica in quite possibly the entire world. He would tell me about the team of talented folks and friends who helped bring his “crazy” vision into a reality. Which supports my second belief; all things are possible with the help and support of others. While so many criticized him, there were enough who believed in his vision and chose to get on board!
While I was standing within the walls of his creation I was simply overwhelmed by his unique interpretation of the world. Call me crazy, but being a kindergarten teacher I couldn't help but notice that his work reminded me a tiny bit of Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl sprinkled with a touch of Mr. Walt Disney himself. I wondered if they too had been so moved by this very same man? This really got me wonderin—which then got me reading.
I started with his childhood and it turned out his mother homeschooled him in his younger years because he was a very sickly boy. Their classrooms were the gardens and parks in the neighborhood. She spent hours sharing her knowledge and love of nature with her son. My heart burst with this information since I too spent endless hours sharing my amazement of flowers and appreciation of nature with my children back in the day. This fascination of nature led to his desire to study architecture. It seemed that in all of his creations there is a nod to nature, as well as to his mother and teachers. Hence, the columns that hold up the La Sagrada Familia ceiling resemble tree trunks that grow towards the sky with branches and leaves. Window panes and iron gates resemble honeycomb. Stairwells are fashioned to look just like a snail shell. There are even sprigs of lavender constructed as though they grow from the rooftop high above the very schools he received his secondary education in!
This confirms my third belief; that people are not just responsible for creating human beings, but for developing their heart, mind and soul. Parents are the first artists to mold children followed closely by teachers, neighbors, doctors, friends, coaches, family and often even strangers—each with the common goal of helping to develop a person who betters our world.
This amazing man's name is Antoni Gaudi. He is long gone, but his legacy is visited by more than 2.8 million people every year. He died tragically in 1926 before La Sagrada Familia was completed. Since that time it has been the mission of humans he never met to complete his dream--being funded solely by people just like me. People who flock from near and far and buy a ticket to witness with their very own eyes what a unique man was able to accomplish with the love of a mother, an education and the support of a few good humans.
Antoni’s new friend,
Moral: We each have a responsibility to do our part so that when we leave this world it is a better place!
A little song I love: Kristin Chenoweth sings the song, I Was Here that perfectly and beautifully explains my fourth belief. Please take a moment to grab a tissue and take a listen! The world certainly knows my new “old” friend Antoni was here. http://bit.ly/1KgogXR