Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pilgrimage to the Norman Chapel

Norman Chapel at Spring Grove – 30 July 2009

I have had a desire to see the inside of the Norman Chapel for years – every since I moved to Cincinnati to take up my first professional nursing job - see it as a visitor, not as a funeral attendee.
The style and the mood are very reminiscent of old parish churches that I have visited in Great Britain. One can almost feel the prayers and supplications rising from the space. It is obvious to me that this is a space to provide comfort to the living and the grieving. I am one who finds comfort in rituals and in these old formal spaces. The stained glass window in the east end and the woodcarvings in the north and south transept doors all project healing and renewal. What wonderful stone carving! In this small-scale space, we can see up close how exquisite and individual are these carvings. The skill required and the countless hours to carve one capital are almost unimaginable in this day of electronic and robotic machines. The wooden ceiling arches remind me of hammer beams used is Great Britain to span wide interior spaces. I understand why Spring Grove management wanted the Chapel beside the road, but imagine other areas around that landscape where the Chapel could be sited: reflected in a lake, or on the crest of a low hill so the people looked up to it (low hill to spare the horses), or in the center of a clearing of majestic trees.

I do want to redo the plantings that surround the Chapel. (I realize that most people do not automatically analyze the landscape and mentally replant it, but I do. Either it feels "right" or it needs help to make it achieve its purpose.) Imagine plantings that frame the building and lead you to the entrances.

The Chapel gates are very ornate and very beautiful. The arrival, through these gates, of the hearse carrying the casket containing your loved one would elevate the occasion - an earthly representation of the gates of heaven opening to receive him or her. Also, the closing of the gates could be the demarcation between the living and the dead.

Another experience that transforms - but all experience does that, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. Redo the plantings? Of course that would occur to you. And I am sure it could be accomplish to add more beauty and the "be right" as you say. The near the road location seems awkward today but may have been more appealing in 1875 - once they got rid of the herds of pigs passing by...