Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Behold, I will set a plumbline

The desert heat is nothing less than blazingly brutal in July and August, so days and nights go by slowly and we move about even slower, and that has given me a change to construct a new cross. I should mention that for the past several years I have been permitted to construct the cross that is in the small devotional chapel, and it is sort of a work in progress, for several times a year I will imagine a new cross and then attempt to bring that imagination to fruition. I have just completed a new cross yesterday and already I have noticed some muttering among the brothers, which I always consider a good sign, for as Bro. Sedwick always says, "Some may attempt to empty their minds while in prayer or meditation, but that is a mistake, an empty mind is a vacuum that begs to be filled with whatever debris that happens to be floating about." Or words to that effect. So, when I attempt to create a new cross, it is with the thought that the cross will be a point of focus, not on the object itself, the material cross, but the essence of the cross. With this focus, I feel, one can then empty the mind of the hither and dither without emptying to a dangerous vacuum, thereby keeping the essense of Godness within, or as I sometimes call it, to be Christ focused.

The cross that I dismantled (wearing leather gloves) was one that I constructed a few months ago from dried ocotillo. After a long search, I found two ocotillo branches that were both sturdy and somewhat straight. I used some yucca rope (courtesy of Bro. Clarence) to tie the horizontal to the vertical, then using fishing line (nearly transparent monofilament) I hung the cross from the ceiling, so that it was suspended about a foot from the white plaster wall. If you have ever seen an ocotillo, you can imagine that the thorny branches gave the brothers much to meditate upon. Well, that cross came down and in its place I sought to come up with something very sparse, or I should say, minimal. Minimal in appearance, yet maximal in thought.

Okay, let me describe the new cross. Simply, the horizontal is the abbot's carpenter's level, actually an antique level, constructed of what appears to be cherry wood, showing wear and tear with a brass plate on top protecting the enclosed glass tube filled with oil and the air bubble. I think it is four foot in length, and this I suspended from the ceiling with the same fishing line that held up the ocotillo cross. Okay, you get the picture, a four foot carpenter's level suspended at about eye-level, about one foot in front of the white plaster wall. Next I used the abbot's brass plumb-bob, this I hung from the ceiling with a heavy string so that the string bisects the carpenter's level, thus creating the cross. Because the white plaster wall is aged to pale yellow, I coated the plumb-line string with blue chalk, thereby producing a rather pleasing effect, with the somewhat complimentary colors of pale yellow and blue. And that is it. Well, I should mention the shadows on the plaster wall, which slowly change during the day, because of a small window on the opposite side of the chapel. Okay, I will leave the rest to your imagination, and to the meditations of the brothers. Hopefully some maximal will come from the minimal.

Amo 7:7-8
Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall [made] by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.
And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more...