Historical setting: 590 C.E. The church in the woods
Mater Doe watches me explore this sanctuary with the same eye she watches over the birds searching seeds outside the window.
I see this Roman statue of Diana looking very much like the goddess of the hunt our visitors mentioned. This is a deeply carved marble image, a youthful girl in a walking stride, wearing a short tunic with a bow and quiver. This seems an artist’s rendition more than an idol awaiting sacrifices. I always think the Greek and Roman deities are simply art shown as gods never present with people, off doing their own godly things.
Mater Doe asks, “So you wish prayers to Artemis.”
“Artemis? I see her here as the Roman Diana.”
“Another altar to Artemis is on that wall.”
I look at the opposite wall, and there is an altar ready as the flaming platform for a hunter’s kill. It features a collection of nature things undoubtedly honoring Mother Nature.
My mind wanders to another time and place where an actual carving of Artemis is a goddess with many breasts – maybe one for each species of Creation.
Mater Doe offers, “She has many names. Some just call her Mother Nature. Is that where you wish to offer your prayers?”
“I just came to look today.”
“Take your time, Lazarus my boy, sometimes the voice of God isn’t in the winter winds, nor the flaming altar, but in the silence.”
I choose not to shout my affirmation of Elijah’s mention of the “the sheer silence.” [I Kings 19:12] But I do notice the solitude, and my prayer is heard also in the stillness here.
Dear God, I hear you in the silence among the many ways we know you are touching us with love too vast for the simplicity of two human breasts. Yet we have this little echo, a tiny spark of the great Creative nurture of love and we can do nothing less than create with our little human hands: we sing, we dance, we celebrate the gracious outpouring. Thank you — for life and love. Thank you.
By the time the tranquility of Spirit opens again to earth I find the sun is beaming through the windows on the west side of the church and Mater Doe has added wood to the warming fire.
“I have to be on my way now. But I will come again.”