I have read so many books since I last posted about one here, I can't even remember what they are. But I do remember this one. My mother has been pleading with me to read this book for years. But it is so long (over 1000 pages) and it's about cathedral building in the Middle Ages. I can't imagine anything I'd be less likely to commit 1000 pages of leisure reading to. But I have recently become a believer in reading whatever book crosses my path (within reason), and I discovered a copy buried in the corner of the bookshef in the spare room. I was in need of something to read, so I went for it.
All I can say is, I could have read 2000 pages. It was great. It's one of those epic historic novels that stretches over decades, through many wars and disasters. It's everything you would expect of a novel about the middle ages — knights and lords and peasants, castles and dungeons and chainmail and lots of bloody death — but it is so much more. It's just an amazing story full of characters that jump off the page. I was amazed at the way they still loved and pursued ambitions and reached for happiness, despite living in what truly was a bleak time. It reminded me that people, no matter how long ago or foreign or different from myself, are always just people.
Most of all, it made me think about what it took to build a cathedral in that day and time. I spent some time in France and England as a college student, and I walked through too many cathedrals to count. I learned about gothic and romanesque and the nave and the apse, but I never once thought about what it would take to build such a thing in a time before cranes or earth movers or factory made bricks or, really, anything but hand tools and buckets and strings. One cathedral could take 50 years or more. The massive foundations were dug by hand, the dirt moved in one small load after another. Every stone was quarried and cut and laid by hand. Every detail carved by hand. And after that incredible effort by hundreds of men over years and years, it might have fallen down or burned before it was finished. To think that I looked at all those cathedrals and never thought once about what an incredible testament they are, not to God's power, but to the power of the human spirit.