The Power of St. Paul This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

April 8, 2013
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St. Paul's Cathedral in London: magnificent, immense, and stately. I am reminded of the iconic image of an undamaged St. Paul standing whole and bright, surrounded by clouds of smoke and fear following intense bombings by Germany in the Blitz of World War II. Demanding to be seen, standing up against the terror. Its power remains today.

I stand in the courtyard and crane my neck, scanning the stairs, following the pillars up until my gaze reaches the huge dome and the cross perched resolutely on its peak. In this moment I tell myself that I will make it to the top.

As I enter the cathedral, I pay my respects to the beautiful architecture, detail, art, and altar. My eyes are overwhelmed by colors and figures. My heart skips as we approach the stairs that will lead us to the top. Toward victory. Toward bragging rights. The staircase is wide, a rich oak color. I place my foot on the first step, preparing for the journey, reminding myself that this is the first step of hundreds. I begin my ascent decisively, putting one foot in front of the other. I reach the Whispering Gallery and peer over the iron railing at the antlike people strolling below.

As I climb farther, the walls narrow. My head is spinning as I go upward in tight circles. The end of the iron staircase is suspended indefinitely in the open air of the cathedral. I am nervous to see an even narrower hallway approaching. It curves so I cannot see what lies ahead. The cold stone walls enclose me like a tomb. No, I tell myself. I cannot quit now. I climb on, alarmed as the walls close in on me, the berth tightening until I am afraid I will have to shuffle sideways through the narrow gap. The ceiling lowers and even my petite frame must duck to clear it. Just when I feel as if the walls will squeeze the life out of me, a fresh breeze whips against my face and a bright light blinds my eyes. I am squinting, panting, taking in the cool air.

Surrounding me is an unparalleled view. The city is gray, the sky bright blue. I am level with fluffy white clouds. I see a church topped with three crosses encircled in halos of bright sky. Far away I think I can spot the block, the house, in which we are living. I imagine I can see the nasturtiums crawling up the railing outside my window. I am impossibly far away, and yet I see it all. The streets sprawl in every direction. Taxis stall at stoplights. The river runs like a ribbon through the city; the gray evidence of industry and finance run along either side. I am in awe, my mouth agape, as I stare at the huge, bustling city. I think back to my resolution as I stood at the base of the stairs, as I gazed up at the magnificent dome. Now I am completely humbled.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Deej6595 said...
Nov. 16, 2013 at 9:47 pm
This is beautiful imagery and emotions. I feel like I could imagine it too.
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