Two postcards - I brought them home from Chartres Cathedral in France, from my springtime visit there. They are taped above my altar. Images to dwell upon, portraying “the contemplative life.” The message of these images is heightened for me right now, as this fall season begins, with its return for my family and I (and many others) to our occupations of teaching and learning.
I love the simplicity of these images.
The contemplative life is portrayed in female form, as a woman with a book!
Titles of sculptural reliefs - Le portal nord (XIII siècle):
La vie contemplative: elle lit (she reads)
La vie contemplative: elle enseigne (she teaches)
Elle lit – the book is held open in her hands, she gazes into it.
Elle enseigne – the book is closed, held upwards in her lap. Her hand is also held up, her palm opened towards us, a sign of benediction. Thus, her teaching goes forth from the wisdom of her reading.
These two images depict the heart of contemplation at work in the process of study, through reading and teaching. Each infuses the other. The woman with the book.