Historical setting: 564 C.E. A Small Village in Southeastern Gaul
The villagers argue:
“This is no statue, Father!”
“A statue is an image of an emperor or a hero!”
“A statue is like a pagan god trapped in the stillness of stone!”
“Of course we have seen statues, and this is not a statue!
“This is a common woman!”
“See for yourself! This is Lot’s wife, solid salt, always looking backwards.”
And that is the spirit of the mob now gathering around the carved stone on the cart near the front of the church.
The father preaches, “Really, my friends, this is not that woman from the story in Genesis! This is a Christian statue cut into solid earthen rock by the humble hands of a desert father! It was made as a prayerful act. But never was it a real woman; it was always stone and now it is art!
“Listen, now, dear sheep of this parish! You know well Christians don’t worship statues of emperors or idols of pagan gods. We don’t worship tangible gods! Christian art is creative works by human hands though sometimes driven by the intangible and invisible God through inspiration.” The priest’s complexity of sermon seems to pass by their ears, favoring what their eyes see.
He continues, “This art is like the songs sung by ancient shepherds that inspire all of us in wars and peace to give us courage and lead us to thanksgivings before the true Creator of earth and heaven. We sing songs and share in poetry with our human voices, our fears, our humor, our imagination, always reflecting our human being as image of Creator. So why wouldn’t an artist share the Creative Spirit with the work of his hands carving stone?”
One of the mob shouts, “Songs are never of salt or stone, they are like whispers of wind that fade away!”
“Please, all I am saying is that stone images do not replace the Creator. They inspire us to notice the invisible. And so this image of a poor mother caring for her child inspires our human knowledge that like children we are beloved by God.”
The crowd still calls for the other story, “So tell us the true story of the woman driven from her home by the angry God. We want to hear of the justice where the fire and ash reigned down from heaven and destroyed the wicked city.”
“Always you want to hear of the ruin.”
(Continues Tuesday February 2)