Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dormition Abbey and Coenaculum

Dormition Abbey commorates the place where Mary “sleeps” (dormir …..look familiar Lou? :) and by sleep they mean died. The church is really stunning both inside and outside.

Then this guy jumped in our picture as he was walking by. It was pretty funny. Usually you do that when you are in Jr. High but I guess some people enjoy these jokes during mid-life.

There was some kind of devotional or practice going on. All these young guys were singing and they sounded really awesome. I wish I could post a video for you, but it hasn’t worked every time I’ve tried.
Mary is commemorated downstairs below the chapel and there were more groups down there singing which was fun to listen to as well. We tore ourselves away from the group upstairs when we heard the group downstairs singing.
We went next door to the Coenaculum, which is one of the two spots that claims to be the place of the Last Supper. It’s a beautiful room—it’s empty and bare and kind of dark but I liked it. It was easy to imagine the Last Supper there.

They had this interesting Tree of Life sculpture hanging out at the back of the room. I liked how they fused real branches into it with the gold tree. I’m not sure what the meaning is by placing the Tree of Life in the room of the Last Supper, but it’s an interesting idea, I think.

 I find all Tree of Life symbolism fascinating. It shows up in all kinds of contexts and I’m trying to understand how it shows up in Christianity and how it shows up in LDS doctrine because I feel like we push its symbolism to a whole new level in the Book of Mormon. But I don’t feel like the symbol is exactly the same every time its used in the scriptures, it doesn’t feel like the same Tree of Life in Exodus and Revelations and 1 Nephi to me, but I haven’t pinned down all the differences. If anyone has any insight, I’d love to hear it.  The other day we went on a field trip where a Torah calligrapher showed us the process of making Torah scrolls and at the end of the presentation he mentioned that the wooden part of the scroll is a symbol of the Tree of Life. So now I’m trying to sort that out in my mind. In my New Testament class last year, my teacher showed us a picture that was in a cathedral somewhere of Christ hanging on a cross, but if you looked closely the cross was the Tree of Life and Adam and Eve were at Christ’s feet.  So interesting. It’s kind of amazing though how different religions use the same symbols. I think it can be something unifying even in places like Jerusalem where everyone seems to want to mark their differences from each other in a very explicit way. But even if we don’t interpret the symbols in the same way, I like that there are connections.
Here’s the Torah scrolls that the Torah calligrapher showed us with a Tree of Life on each end….

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