Sunday, 21 June 2009

Statues & shrines

I set out to find the church whose spire I could see, poking out above trees. The sun had hardly gotten a look-in all day and it started raining just as I arrived but the church seemed like an exotic transplant from a warmer place. I suppose it's because I remember the Catholic churches and roadside shrines where I used to live in south west France.

It was the statue that started the memories coming. On this white figure, the only colour is some red paint to show blood at the nail wounds in hands and feet. I remember watching a very old lady in France, carefully refreshing the red paint done in exactly the same way. What struck me was that she was standing on some steps held in place by one man and the pot of paint was held by another. They could easily have done the job but I had the impression that this was her role and that she had done it for many years.
It made me think of the small elite group among Aboriginal people who maintain and refresh the rock paintings.

Then I came across this sort-of cave shrine which was pretty surreal, as it was made of concrete, built up over a breeze-block shed! It looked a bit strange in the Peak district but must be a comfort to the visiting Fathers who come regularly from abroad to stay in the new annex they've recently built. Apparently they come over to go walking in the hills around here.
I know this because I got chatting to a volunteer who was levelling out an area to accommodate cremation plaques. He was a very cheerful soul who said with great enthusiasm "We're hoping to squeeze 70 in here!"

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