~ Jesse Jackson
|Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral, Pisa, Italy|
In his April 30th column for WSJ.online, science writer Jonah Lehrer writes that "architecture and design can influence our moods, thoughts and health." As he explains, scientists are discovering that our outlook and our performance on different tasks change in response to aspects of our surroundings "from the quality of a view to the height of a ceiling."
The article put me on a memory path I've traveled down scores of times over the years. It begins when, as a child of three or four, my parents took me to a Roman Catholic mass in a Gothic-style church where the choir sang Gregorian chant.
As light streamed through the stained glass windows and the chanting voices arced and dipped I suddenly had the feeling that my mind was floating through the top of my head to a place way up high in the vaulted ceiling. I wasn't frightened by it. I felt both calm and energized.
Although I gave up religion in my early teens, over the years, when I've needed to think through a difficult problem or even just recharge, I have often found my way to a high-ceilinged church. Even without the chanting choir, the light and those high, beautiful ceilings work a certain magic. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, "Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral." I find that inspiration contagious.
|Norwich Cathedral, Norfolk, U.K.|
The next time you find yourself near a Gothic-style church, stop in and see how it feels.