Cathedral, by Auguste Rodin
I absolutely adore this sculpture. I found this photograph on a beautiful blog called A Year With Rilke. Every day the blog shares a passage from Rilke, paired with a piece of art. Rilke’s words alone are bone-chillingly gorgeous, and the juxtapositions with the pieces of art make them even more powerful.
This particular sculpture has been in my head ever since I saw it last week. There’s something stunning about the angle of the hands, something animate in between them. The title invokes the holiness manifest in human hands and in the space between.
The most mundane of things, our very own life-scarred hands, are equally as transcendent as the most ornate and soaring cathedral. There is as much power and as much wonder in the simple human hand as in a grandiose cathedral. And just as the empty space in a cathedral can be charged with meaning, with import, with grace itself, so can the spaces of our ordinary lives.
Several people have noted that kaleidoscopes are an image I return to, again and again. It occurs to me as I write this post that cathedrals are, likewise, an important trope for me. I spent my childhood visiting cathedral upon cathedral with my father, Hilary and I rolling our eyes at ADC (another damn cathedral) as we entered. Yesterday I re-read Raymond Carver’s ever-powerful short story, Cathedral. And I have an unpublished blog post from last summer about the light and shadow in the Harvard stadium as I ran up and down it, referring to a personal cathedral. Cathedrals. Alternately inspiring and intimidating to me, cathedrals are places where faith, and the willingness to leap into it, is palpable.
This week has felt like an awful lot of hard practice, and less like poetry. But looking at this image, thinking about the cathedrals, literal and figurative, that I’ve known in my life, I feel chagrined, and ready to recommit to wonder.
May I enter the cathedral of every day with a heart open to awe.