Friday, December 11, 2009

Thematic Photographic - Elsewhere

Each week Carmi at Written, Inc. has challenged readers with a theme for photographic inspiration. This week the photographic challenge continues with the theme ELSEWHERE.

If I look around where I am right now, and long to be elsewhere, one place I dream about is the walled and ramparted medieval city of Vezelay, in the Burgundy region of France.

The town sits high on a rocky outcropping, overlooking cultivated plains and pastures and woodland. It would have been visible to weary 13th century pilgrims as they traveled the Way of St. James from Northern Europe through France on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

One enters the city through a walled gate flanked by round stone turrets. Then you climb through the steep and narrow streets until you reach the high square before the basilica itself.

The basilica is a significant example of medieval Romanesque architecture, its arched nave outlined by arches made of alternating light and dark stone, emphasizing the height and length of the sanctuary.

It wasn't until 1976, over eight centuries after it was built, that the modern world discovered one fascinating feature left by the original architect. Every year on the summer solstice, or John the Baptist's feast day, at full midday, the sun beaming through the southern clerestorey windows projects a row of lights down the exact center of the nave. A 12th century architect who cared so deeply about the earth's relationship to heaven he chose to build his church to capture this effect.

Outside and behind the basilica, a vast grassy lawn is encircled by low walls that overlook the surrounding countryside. And on that lawn, the day we were there, the brothers of the Fraternite Monastique de Jerusalem were kicking a ball around with the students of their school.

And that is why this photo says "Elsewhere" to me. Because nothing is more remote from grey cubicle walls, trilling telephones, stale coffee, spreadsheets and email than robed monks playing soccer in a field by a medieval basilica in France.


Gilly said...

Wouldn't mind being there myself!!

Unknown said...

I love your pictures from your trip. And I love that word. Elsewhere. I think it is lovely.