The Cathedral Floor (or One Note – Part 2)

Being married to a CPA, many have remarked that Claude would always have a job, since, after all, two things are certain: death and taxes. Let’s be honest, no one likes either of those aforementioned things, and the former holds a special place of disdain in our hearts. We abhor death…for what it does to us, for what it robs from us. And yet, if we look at God’s economy, we see a marvelous and miraculous thing…that God can, and does, bring LIFE out of death. Jesus’ death on the cross brings us LIFE. Stephen’s death and the subsequent rise in persecution, scattered the early followers of Jesus. These followers set out to distant lands, preaching the Gospel (LIFE) wherever they went. (See Acts 7-8.) History – both ancient and recent – bears witness that the blood of martyrs (death) is the seed of the church (LIFE).

So, what does this little digression on death, and the possibility of LIFE birthed from death, have to do with The Cathedral Floor (or One Note-Part 2)? Well, because the revelation of The Cathedral Floor (or One Note-Part 2) came in the same awe-some cathedral in Harleem (the Netherlands, not New York) on the glorious, picturesque morning that I received the “disconcerting” text from a dear friend back home. The same text – having left me desperate for a safe harbor from the storm threatening to engulf my heart – that drew me into St. Bavo Cathedral.

In my last blog, One Note, I bemoaned about the one note playing in St. Bavo that morning. In the end, the one note lead to a revelation of my own heart followed by the conviction to embrace my life’s note, whatever it be…to LET IT PLAY its intricate and deliberate part of a grand and brilliant score written by a composure who is, at the very core of His being, brilliant and good and loving. But there is more to the story and the lesson that I did not write in One Note.

First, about the text, it had to do with one of the unpleasant topics mentioned at the beginning of this blog…death. Second, at one point in my self-guided tour, I realized I was standing on a gravestone. Weird, I thought.


As I finished my tour, I tucked the literature promoting the historic, aesthetic, and architectural value of St. Bavo into my purse and then left the cathedral with the lesson of one note rumbling in my heart. Later, reading the literature, I was stunned to learn that the ENTIRE floor was comprised of gravestones…the inside of the cathedral was also a cemetery! Don’t you see? These gravestones (the burial place of the dead) provide the literal foundation for this grand and magnificent cathedral…a beautiful cathedral with its spectacular organ that has been played by such musical greats as Handel and Mozart! Throughout history, within St. Bavo’s walls, generations of worshipers encounter God, great pieces of art find a home, weary travelers discover a shelter, beauty-seekers unveil inspiration, and heart-heavy sojourners (like me that May morning) recover peace. All of this LIFE, and much more, in a place literally built on death.


We all experience death. Yes, physical death, but death comes in other forms too. We may experience death in relationships and the death of dreams. The fluid motion from one life season to the next often leaves an inevitable trail of death, as well. Now, I am by no means suggesting we applaud death or cheer it on. I am simply offering us some hope. If you have recently experienced a death of sort, look up! See if God might be building a grand cathedral, a place where many will experience LIFE, using the death you have known as a foundation. Look for the rays of hope, the tender sprigs of new LIFE peeking through the dead ground of winter…the tiny green shoots that declare: indeed, NEW LIFE IS BUDDING where death has fallen!