Sunday, January 17, 2010
THE TABERNACLE SETTING.
Caroline Mackenzie who designed the Tabernacle setting in Maitri Sagar Writes:
An example of masculine and feminine symbolism at the centre of sacred space is to be found at Maitri Sagar.
“In this example the “masculine” element is provided by the pillar of fire. This is symbolized as a stone pillar with a flame on top and seven oil lamps each side. In the centre is the tabernacle. On the door there is an annunciation scene where Mary accepts the message of the fiery angel. The idea is to focus on God’s involvement in the process of liberation. Thus the pillar of fire is a symbol to guide the Israelites and the angel shows Mary her destiny in the process of liberation. Both the pillar and the angel are accepted in faith.
In the Maitri Sagar sanctuary the tabernacle is set into the pillar so that it is at eye level for someone squatting on the floor. Meditation practices such as the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can be done in this setting in a meaningful way. Because it is the custom to sit on the ground, one is very much aware of the earth. The Western tradition has stressed the notion of the divine descending from above, entering from outside. In the East there is more of an equal focus on above and below. Just as the pillar rises out of the earth, so the lotus flower grows up out of the muddy water. This is an obvious symbol for the integration of below and above, or dark and light”
(‘Cosmic awareness and Sacred Space: The integration of Feminine symbolism in Indian Christian art and architecture’ by Caroline Mackenzie)