Monday, February 3, 2014

Field Trip to the Capitol

We walked into the Minnesota Capitol on a hushed morning in February.
It was the perfect time to go.
The politicians don't arrive till the end of the month.
From June until next January, the entire building will be shut down for repairs.
As it was, we drove up the Hill with the back of the building on our left,
and its backside is covered, sealed, in white plastic.
Artisans and photographers and tour guides were the only ones there.
And a small group ahead of us.
And we four.

Nate has not had much work since Christmas.
Stressful, yes, and not as relaxing as one might think.
But things appear to be looking up, work starts tomorrow,
and we decided to get out of the house on this fine sunny day.

Here is what I knew about the Capitol:
It was designed by Cass Gilbert.

Here is what I did not know:
It was built when Minnesota had been a state for only 37 years (begun in 1898, completed in 1905).
It is a Civil War Memorial.
Cass Gilbert designed not only the building, but also the decorations (furniture, lighting,
and commissioning of artwork).

The golden sculpture at the base of the Dome is called "The Progress of the State,"
but is commonly known as the Quadriga.

Babyface and one of the spectacular hallway ceilings.

This window is in the ceiling of (I think) the Chamber of the House of Representatives.
All around, in every grand Chamber and in each hallway, are words (in both Latin and English),
quotes that extoll government and law.
I guess the words didn't impress me much.
I kept thinking of the terrible shouting matches that have taken place here,
and how many times "my side" has lost. 

Malachi was all for running around and climbing stairs.
The stairs are shallow and wide,
so he was thrown off his normal crawling pattern. 

With my baby in the Rotunda,
next to one of Cass Gilbert's lamps.
Malachi is looking up,
which is always the right thing to do,
whether we are in the middle of a long winter,
or mired in our own particular sorrow,
or simply unsure of our next step.

The building was so beautiful, so complete, so authentic,
that as we wandered its hallways,
I wasn't as burdened by thoughts of Rome
(and its inevitable fall)
as I thought I would be.

I'll leave you with a glimpse of heaven,
where the Designer is perfect,
judgement is merciful,
the halls ring with music,
and nothing, nothing,
separates us from perfect joy.

"I did not see a temple in the city,
because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb
are its temple.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it,
for the Glory of God gives it light,
and the Lamb is its lamp.
The nations will walk by its light,
and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.
On no day will its gates ever be shut,
for there will be no night there.
The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
Nothing impure will ever enter it,
nor will anyone who does what is shameful and deceitful,
but only those whose names are written 
in the Lamb's book of life."
(Revelation 21:22-27) 

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