The Shadows Flee
It’s amazing what you get to see when you look up. This is the ceiling of a chapel in a cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Twelve angels with fully extended wings so intricately beautiful with a stature of protection. A friend I have known since last summer took me to the chapel. We had tried to visit this chapel once before but timing had other plans. It wasn’t for then. It was for now.
In August 2016 I had visited the same cemetery with the same friend, and when I say cemetery don’t think some morbid place of grey lines and the dead packed in like matchsticks. No, this place, although full of the dead frames of men was in fact full of the most alive story I have ever experienced. It is full of beautiful trees and a pond and memorials and also overlooks a lake. One day I might write about what happened that first visit with my friend, but for now I will just speak of this beautiful holy moment.
In each corner of the chapel are four women in the form of beautiful mosaic, just like the ceiling, each representing the four virtues; Faith, Hope, Love and Memory. Creation of this mosaic dome began in Venice by skilled artists who had just worked at the Vatican. They created more than 10million mosaic pieces called tessellae. The artists arrived in Minneapolis the summer of 1909 and assembled the masterpiece. The history of the building and the coming about of its design and presence in Minneapolis is quite something and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The moment of walking into this building took my breath away. The timing, the striking beauty, the boldness of the colours in the work, the gold and sapphire tiles shining in my direction. It was like I walked in and the room itself said “Hello, welcome my friend.” After the experience I had the week before in Dublin (partly described in my post “Current Position”) and the intimacy of awakening to my own womanhood, I was in tears at the gift of this for my eyes and my soul.
The twelve angels around the dome relate to the disciples, the tribes of Israel, the sons of Jacob. The number twelve really incapsulates the essence of communal witness and extended family. The fact that these male figures in biblical text are adorned in such a feminine way is just stunning and makes me think about the role of a woman and the feminine adornment that draws forth life. The flowers are in bloom and the way is fertile.
In this season of spring we get the story of new life every which way we turn. New life emerging from within the dark ground and after the season of winter I can only help but smile at the words that accompany the images around this dome!
“The Day Break And The Shadows Flee”
Let this be your truth, men and women. The shadows will flee and we will have courage to respond to our calling and essence on earth. There is a set apart way just for you and your creativity and passion. There is a way set apart that will mean you bring light into dark places. There is a way set apart that embodies the virtues mentioned on the walls of this chapel, in a cemetery, in Minneapolis. Let Faith, Love, Memory and Hope guide your hearts towards transformation and a space of grace.