I hate heights.
But put that aside - when there is a job to be done, my phobias (heights, dark water, fish, and realistic animatronic dinosaurs) get put behind me to get the shot.
And so I found myself recently, harness enveloping my body and strapped on to the basket of a cherry picker, at the construction site for Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville.
The Rev. Richard Stika, Bishop of Knoxville, had decided to ascend to the top of the framework for the dome of the cathedral to inscribe on its round beam, Iesus, confidio in te. That is his epsicopal motto: Jesus, I trust in You. I give him utmost kudos for this; at 59, his health is not the best but his spirit truly is, so for him he was excited and happy to do this.
And I got to photograph it.
Some 60' up in the air.
When the Bishop came back down, several of the men chanted, "Respect, respect!" because they had never expected to see someone in his office do something like that. And they learned, too, that he roams the site at night, praying the Rosary, for them and their families.
Respect, indeed. In fact, John, the fellow who accompanied the Bishop to the top, went back up and welded the Bishop's inscription into the beam, so it would be permanent.
But the story of building this cathedral is not about Bishop Stika or even the Diocese of Knoxville. The story is to be found in the workers of Merit Construction who are donating their time and effort into this.
Centuries ago, these same types of men built the great cathedrals in Europe. They did not have the same type of equipment but there is something that they share: their soul. Because this is not any ordinary building - this is a cathedral, and it is something that is meant to be both functional and a piece of art.
This is not just work, it is craftsmanship. These men are the heirs to Renaissance artisans who created beautiful, soaring structure to glorify God and to allow the humans who viewed t sense the Divine within themselves.
Mortal, average, everyday, run-of-the-mill men . . . leaving an extraordinary legacy.