Sunday, April 24, 2011

Flowers from Jerusalem

There are unusual things in my archives. This old card presents a hybrid "tree" composed of six tiny wildflowers from sites in the Holy City.

I've wandered through each of the first five places, but I'm incapable of recognizing any of the dried wildflowers. As for the monastery of St John in the Wilderness, my wanderings never took me as far south of the city as that. On the back of the card, the unknown pilgrim provides us with a brief explanation:

Christine came upon this card in one of her old books and, knowing that I'm an ardent admirer of the Holy City, she gave it to me. And it's the sort of thing that merits display on an Easter blog.

Talking of Easter, rather than evoking antiquated beliefs that have become totally obsolete by now, it would be better if we were to celebrate the men and women who once built the cathedrals.
Then Joshua called the twelve men […], out of every tribe a man: […] Take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder […] that this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them […] and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
Joshua 4 : 5-7
Last night, on the Arte TV channel, there was a fabulous French documentary concerning the construction of the Gothic cathedrals. For years, I used to walk several times a week in front of the great cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.

In these old photos, the façade was still grimy… as I remember it when I first arrived in Paris, before Malraux got around to scrubbing it clean. I was fascinated above all by the leftmost of the three pairs of doorways, designated as the portal of the Virgin.

In the tympanum, the upper triangle presents one of the most amazingly Oedipal images in Christendom: Jesus is crowning a youthful female, about his own age, who gazes at him in adoration. That woman was in fact Mary, his alleged biological mother.

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