Walking into the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal felt similar to walking into the Manhattan Macy’s with two toddlers at my side: beautiful and overwhelming. Only this time, it was delightful. The architecture, the artistry, the light – even the acoustics – it was a feast for the senses. And it’s not just a pretty stained-glass window every fourth pew. Every millimeter is covered in artistic detail.
Above me is an enormous stained-glass clerestory window. In it, the tiny pieces of glass catch the sun and splash rainbows all over the floor and walls. Along the sides and up to the altar, hand-carved statues of various biblical fathers tell stories from ages past. And then in the front, at the very center of it all, hangs Christ on a cross. His mother Mary and dear friend John are at his side while Mary Magdalene weeps at his feet. They appear to be gold with all of the glowing lights behind and around them. You can practically hear the angels singing Hallelujah!
After about ten minutes of visual over-stimulation I realize I’ve been gripping the pew next to me. I look down at my white knuckles and begin to pry each finger off, one by one. Then I see it. On the side of the pew is a carving – probably a saint – very lovely and simple. With all of the glory and majesty beaming in the chapel, this small figure is easily missed. Yet somehow it seems to represent the life of Christ even more than the statue at the altar.
We know that when Jesus comes back for us there will be thunder and lightning and horses and swords. But His stay here on earth mostly consisted of wood chips and dust, bread and fish, a washrag and dirty feet. He came to us in a feeding trough and left us on a tree. Jesus is not just any king. Though His glory is great, it also hides like a treasure, and part of the joy of living is our chance to go find it…everywhere we go.