celebrating the building of life
The feast of the Assumption is a mid–year reminder of the awesome mystery of resurrection life. We celebrate this gift in Mary; that she has reached the fullness of her humanity, going ahead of each of us to enjoy the complete gift that life holds. I hope you enjoy as much as I did looking at the pictures which accompany Joy Cowley and Kath Rushton’s articles on the Assumption. Mary’s strength and gentleness shine brightly.
In a remarkable short piece, Brother Peter Bray reflects on the difficulties of life in Palestine. Yet despite these, and they are many, he is able to see the hope which the Bethlehem University holds for the building of that nation, and to celebrate this.
In another celebration of life, Jeph Mathias looks at a day in the life of a doctor in the rural clinic of Madgram. The throbbing life of a mountain valley is delicately depicted. In doing so, Jeph is sifting the life of Himalayan India and seeing beyond the traditional life that is slowly being changed as the demands of modernity trickle into these stupendous valleys. He can see both positives and negatives flowing from this inevitable march of time, lamenting the good that will be lost and saluting the gains.
On a different line, Tony Watkins reflects on human creativity in the building of life. He looks at the way in which power has been distributed over the centuries through the use of architecture, and contrasts the way of the monasteries to the way of the cities. He opts for the slow and careful growth which comes from the example of the monasteries; and places this over and against the piecemeal and hurried way in which we modern “efficiency” experts build – with too little thought for future consequences.
To show a good example of what Tony talks about from New Zealand, Peter Stuart has highlighted the beginning of the rebuilding of the Kopua Monastery. The monks have just begun to build their permanent monastery after a period of being in New Zealand for well over 50 years. By way of their charity, and faithful to their rule, it is the guesthouse that has been built first - the giving of hospitality being the first obligation of a Cistercian monk. We see displayed here what Tony Watkins is saying: careful choice of building materials, brilliant use of light, simplicity in all. And we await the next period of who knows how many years when the monastery itself will be built – a testament to the slow growth of beauty.
Michael Hill shows another side of careful, visionary building of a place of beauty. What he refers to as an ‘architectural Disneyland’, Portmeiron. It took Clough William–Ellis all of his very long life to bring this to completion. And it remains as testament to one human being’s desire to bring pleasure.
These four articles are some of a dazzling array of reflections on the celebration of life which the Assumption symbolizes so clearly. Happy reading. KT
In August 2010 issue
Where men and mountains meet – Jeph Mathias
The Assumption – Kathleen Rushton, rsm
Architecture: creativity for holiness – Tony Watkins
Building Kopua monastery – Peter Stuart
Yoga and catholicism – interview: Nicky Chapman
Pastoral care of teachers – Paul Andrews, sj
Reviews: Films – Paul Sorrell and Patricia Kane
Books – Kathleen Doherty, Mike Crowl, Judith Anne O’Sullivan