Commentary in Stone
Posted on June 23, 2014

They wouldn't fit into our world. Their handiwork is the opposite of a selfie. No, I can't give you a single name but they never cease to amaze me.

I am referring to those incredible craftsmen of the Middle Ages whose work is found on the carved capitals of the cathedrals that dot the landscape of France. Most of what they did is invisible to the casual visitor, lost as it is in the dimness of soaring rooflines. But modern photography has brought some of it to the eye of the interested viewer.

It was a photo from the great church at Vazelay tumbling out of a long-forgotten book that brought this subject to mind this morning. Entitled "The Mystic Mill", it made me wonder how I could have forgotten it.

A 12th century stone worker has carved Moses pouring grain into a handheld mill. Catching the product in a bag is Paul while in the center a Jesus mill makes the transformation happen. What a union of the two testaments and what a statement of theology! Who was this artist who has given us not only a stunning piece of art, but a bit of theology that is so true and so provocative.

Until someone hoisted lighting into the proper position and caught the carving in his camera this lovely bit of faith was content to rest in the shadows of a great church. I can now hold it in my hand and say "thank you" to the artist. Did anyone else know what he had carved? Was there a similar workman busy with the next column? I will never know.

All I need to know is that this stone worker knew his Bible and skillfully left a statement about it for the ages to discover. Moses and Paul are unique in their individual details. The carver has to have done this with love and, I think, much joy.

Whoever you are, here is a very belated note of gratitude from a fellow lover of the Bible who so appreciates your commentary!


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