Reading this Pico Iyer piece on cathedrals and their role in our lives, took me back fifteen years to the last time I had the privilege of listening to a monk discourse on the relevance of the Bhagwad Gita in our modern world - our daily lives. A large number of devotees had gathered there that afternoon to listen to him. Having arrived there very early, I had the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the tranquility of the ashram along with a few others scattered around in the large hall.
Iyer says of Saint Patrick's cathedral in NYC :
It was the frame that gave everything else definition. Ever since, I’ve made it my practice to step into that great thronged space whenever I return to the city, to remind myself of what is real, what is lasting, before giving myself to everything that isn’t. A chapel is the deepest silence we can absorb, unless we stay in a cloister. A chapel is where we allow ourselves to be broken open as if we were children again, trembling at home before our parents.
There is a stark pureness to the quality of that silence he describes - one that nobody wishes to desecrate. Instead you try to calm the inner turmoil of thoughts that you can now hear as noise - you wish that "deepest silence" would magically permeate you.