It’s wonderful to know artists. Some time ago I woke up after a dream in which I had watched a woman in a medieval scriptorum ‘break open’ a Celtic Gospel manuscript and draw medieval figures leaving the manuscript even as modern pilgrims came in to explore. As we were preparing for our Pilgrimage Conference at Concordia (May 3-4) I told two artist friends: Janice Poltrick Donato and Cindy Walker. Janice drew my dream! And I wrote a poem to the escapees. What a fun way to prepare for an academic conference! (Janice and Cindy will be unveiling the full artistic creation and working on it at the conference in reaction to the academic papers – we’re calling the process peregraffiti)
To the escapees from the Lindisfarne manuscript:
When you stepped through the wall it must have surprised you
Well, to see nothing at first,
blank front and behind, if blankness has direction.
Your eyes scratching for purchase,
here no richly knotted, woven gold, no winding serpents swallowing tails,
no clever labyrinths of animal overlaying cross,
no tight little fecund world,
It must have been a shock.
After all, most escapes automatically come with dreams:
I don’t know,
rich tapestries lining a foreign street, a feast heavy with laughter,
a light-dappled meadow honeyed by bird-calls.
Something, at least.
Poor you. You got nothing.
Or rather, you got space –
line-free, free-lining, free-wheeling space,
the pilgrim’s only promise: space to walk:
stories unfurling like steps