Right now I’m in Little Rock, Arkansas after driving through the rest of Kansas, into and through Oklahoma, and into Arkansas so I could see a Thorncrown Chapel. I decided to skip St. Louis. Tonight I’m in a hotel because last night was a pretty awful night’s sleep folded up in my car at a rest stop.
Thorncrown is spectacularly great. As I was sitting inside the building I had time to think about how it relates to the Cathedral of Our Lady of The Angels, which I was able to see in Los Angeles. Both are stunning works of architecture and spirituality, and I found it impossible to say which one was better. They are both brilliant in their setting, and trying to switch the buildings with each other would be a horrible mistake. Thorncrown would not work in Los Angeles, and Moneo’s cathedral wouldn’t work wrapped up in the Ozarks. Each one fits comfortably and naturally in its place, and each one is able to bring an overriding sense of spirituality because of this. While the Cathedral is large, dark, solid, and imposing, Thorncrown is tiny, light-filled, transparent, and ethereal. Each is what is needed for its function and in its setting, and both are inspiring works.
I’d never driven through the Ozarks until today; they reminded me a lot of the Piedmont are I’ve gotten used to living in South Carolina. Lush, green, dark, and, as I drove through today, damp. I hadn’t really seen any rain since driving through Dallas two months ago, but as I made my way up the winding roads to Thorncrown today the skies opened in one of those beautiful southern summer storms. The kind where it’s still sunny out and everything gets a really good drenching for an hour or so. Next stop is Nashville for a couple days, and then home for two days before going to Vermont for a couple weeks, but as of today, with the scenery and summer rain, I’m back in the South and that’s a great feeling.