I spent time with some mourners today. And no, I did not attend a funeral or wake. Rather, I spent some on-line time with a procession of medieval mourners sculpted in alabaster and currently on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. There’s a link from the main Met description that allows the viewer to pan and rotate each of the individual figures. As I surveyed figure after figure I was awestruck both by the pathos of their postures and by their solemn beauty.

Each figure is exquisite, and each in his varied posture evokes sorrow and mourning in a particular and unique way. Yet the figures are even more compelling as an ensemble – a motley crew if there ever was one, but unified and clearly ‘one’ as they engage in a singular task.

It’s fitting that the ensemble is comprised mostly of monks because the beautiful renderings reminded me so much of monastic community – an ensemble of exquisite and unique individuals, varied in our postures and particularities, but unified and clearly ‘one’ as we engage in the singular task of seeking God alone, together.

Postscript: In the monastery cemetery, a portion of which is pictured above, the crosses are straight and even. Yet the Sisters buried there were each so unique. I’m one of the younger members and don’t know most of those who lie there. But the stories endure of how each evoked and embodied the Spirit of God and her own humanness in her own unique, exquisite way.

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