cotton menorah

21 Aug

I created a menorah on my wall from torn strips of white cotton fabric. The branches have magazine cutouts at the top representing each day of creation. The stand is a picture of a pile of records and large butterflies. Next to the menorah are duplicate crosses, flanked by mountains and a beach scene likewise cut from a magazine.

I have been a magazine interior decorator since I was in junior high, but lately the designs have become more complex. A trinity, a tree of life, and now a menorah creation schema. The designs are transient, taped or sticky-tacked to the wall, and are affirmations of my belief.

Pictorial belief and verbal belief are akin. Although pictures and words require interpretation, they also defy it. Eventually there are no more images, no more words, to offer an explanation. And we’re left with inscape, the thingness of the thing, the wordness of the word. A divine, ever renewable spark of an idea, a cotton strand that shrives its creator in its reinvention.

I offer this prayer by Lancelot Andrewes. “Thou Who walkest in the midst of the golden candlesticks, remove not our candlestick out of its place; set in order the things that are wanting, strengthen the things which remain, [the things] which are ready to die. . . .

“O direct my life towards Thy commandments, hallow my soul, purify my body, correct my thoughts, cleanse my desires, soul and body, mind and spirit, heart and reins. Renew me thoroughly, O Lord, for, if Thou wilt, Thou canst.”*

*Lancelot Andrewes and His Private Devotions: A Biography, a Transcript and an Interpretation (Oliphant, Anderson, and Ferrier, 1896), 75, 87.

5 Responses to “cotton menorah”

  1. Krisanne August 21, 2010 at 6:39 am #

    This gave me goosebumps, Elizabeth. Beautiful. I love how the cross and the menorah happily co-exist on your wall. Trinity, Tree of Life, Menorah. I have three grandmothers. One is Catholic, one is Mormon, and one is Jewish. I was thinking tonight about how I could honor their spiritual histories. You gave me one more image to incorporate into my brainstorming. Thank you!

  2. symphonyofdissent August 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    The menorah is a beautiful and very appropriate symbol of the ancient temple. It seems strange to me that Mormons, so comfortable with a symbolic endowment ceremony, are so hesitant to use symbols in day to day life. Bravo for your willingness to take the good from everywhere and incorporate it into your practice.

  3. ep August 22, 2010 at 1:08 am #

    Thank you both for your kind comments. Krisanne, I would love to know what you come up with. Symphonyofdissent, the idea of art as spiritual discipline is a very attractive one.

  4. Floyd the Wonderdog August 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    When my daughter was in the MTC, we sent her a wall menorah. Each day she opened a package with a paper candle, a devotional on an aspect of the restoration, and presents for those in her MTC district. Great fun.

  5. ep August 23, 2010 at 3:40 am #

    What a creative and fun idea, Floyd!

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