All that shimmers from it…

gl-cross-_4107Today near the beginning of Liturgy I found myself standing close to my dear friends Mr. and Mrs. Bread. Mr. Bread whispered, “I have something for you,” and he put this gift into my hand, a little cross he had carved from abalone shell. I’ve been trying for an hour to take a photograph that shows all the colors that shimmer from it, and this is the best I could do.

It is so much more than a visual thing – I held it for a half hour before I could bring myself to put it away in my bag. So smooth and cool on its face, with gentle contours… I felt the need to keep stroking it with my fingers that were suddenly clumsy and large. I don’t usually have anything in my hands during worship, but its natural beauty and Christian meaning fit right in with the smell of beeswax candles and the chanting of prayers, and of course the icons.

Maybe next week I’ll be wearing it around my neck.  🙂 gl-cross-p1060540

15 thoughts on “All that shimmers from it…

  1. What a beautiful gift this is, handmade, for you. In the Orthodox church do you talk about sacramentals? When I was in high school we were taught that they are things which are not sacraments, but when you see them (or hear them or whatever) they bring God to your mind. This one is extraordinarily beautiful, even if you think you did not capture all the colors. Photographing it against the softly mottled bluish background made a great contrast.

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    1. Kristi, We do indeed have a belief that the whole of creation has the purpose and power of bringing not just the thought, but the presence of God to us. Fr. Alexander Schmemann in his book For the Life of the World discusses this truth at length; here is an excerpt: “In the Bible the food that man eats, the world of which he must partake in order to live, is given to him by God, and it is given as communion with God…All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God. It is divine love made food, made life for man. God blesses everything he creates, and in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation: ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good.'”

      Isn’t it wonderful, the generosity and love of our Father! We can have communion with Him by means of a flower, or a friend, or a piece of seashell….

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    1. LL, it’s true, I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, but the cross of Christ is beyond mere jewelry. In Orthodoxy our cross is dipped in our baptismal waters for blessing and always worn from then on.

      I have been wearing my wedding ring again since I came back from my trip. It shows a bit in the one photo here.

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  2. I had forgotten that the Orthodox cross is differently shaped than the plain cross of the Protestants, or the Catholic crucifix (which does, of course, bear the Corpus). It’s the bottom bar that’s different. As I understand it, that signifies Christ’s humanity: that he pushed against the footrest in pain. Is that right?

    It’s a beautiful piece. It looks as though it’s carved from a sunrise or sunset.

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      1. That’s very interesting, and helpful. In a way, it’s related to what I heard, too. Understanding these differences isn’t just important, it provides a different lens through which to view the familiar.

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  3. As it was carved by a friendl (carved! I didn’t know that was possible with a shell.), it is right to treasure it. That is a radiant gift. But no more so than the lines in your palm. I’d say hold it, as often as you can.

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