Modern scholars such as Joseph Campbell have argued that religio is derived from religare: re (again) + ligare (bind or connect), Re-ligan which means to reconnect. I was delighted to be reminded liga in Spanish is a rubber band. It is a perfect metaphor when I stand reverently beneath the magnificent dome in a Church. The vault connects us to a higher realm where the self is called to go beyond whatever binds us to this earth.
Here are two splendid pictures of a magnificent dome in a church that has been renovated. Christ is at the center, Not Jesus the man, but the Christ energy that provokes us into being. That energy inspires our love for creation and one another. The Vault, the one in Genesis where God separated the heavens and earth. Have you ever heard a priest say when referencing Jesus the Christ, “There never was a time when Christ wasn’t”? The dome is like that, a heaven that has always existed. We only need to direct our gaze above.
Lately I look up at the magnificent dome in the church over the altar!
Mexico has some magnificent domes, none with the Christ the Pantocrator painted with arms extended. However, all domes give light. They have windows that direct light into a spherical space, reminiscent of our Earth. The space rises us up, grasping our attention to unite with the divine. I can imagine I am being received, invited, heard, and noticed as I sit there in the light that connects me to a higher realm.
Why do we find it so hard to believe we are blessed? Mary embraces us from a dome above the altar. Her Blessing comes from above. To be blessed is to trust we are not alone. Everything will unfold in time and space because of an ever present God (energy) that is greater than us. Believe in your heart, you are already blessed. That divine, precious energy sustains us. We cannot make ourselves breath, die or grow a third arm. However, we can believe and be grateful for our miraculous existence in this life. The space in a dome connects the mind to a higher realm of potential and unlimited possibilities.
We are called to look into the dome with awe and wonder.
It is a spacey concept the early architects came up with. Light filled windows, in an arching vault that represents a higher dimension. The Magnificent Domes in Churches are sacred space precisely for their ability to make the small mind of humanity want to contemplate. An illuminated vault of color and shape is a simple idea that entices the mind to expand into a world of wonder and awe.
BIO Mary Jane Miller. A self-taught Byzantine style iconographer with over 28 , born in New York and living in Mexico full time. Her collections of sacred art are contemporary, with a proficient command of egg tempera. Her work is extraordinarily rich in style and has been exhibited in museums and churches in both the United States and Mexico. FACEBOOK Conversations about Prayer and Iconography.