The rains have come. The Great Stour River has gone from being clear and bubbling to a swift and murky brown. The wind and rain strip the trees of their leaves and the air has turned cold. We had a class in which we went to Canterbury Cathedral with sketching materials. We were here to find an image, and invite it to speak to us. It could be an architectural detail, the building itself, a sculpture, a painting, or anything that grabbed us. I chose this lovely monster being.
It took me some time to make a connection. First, because that is the way my mind works, I had to look at him literally, asking things like: So, how does it work having two rib-cages? And two stomachs? How and what do you eat? You have wings on your knees and elbows so how do you even walk? Or fly? What is that other head doing in your groin? Where are your genitals?! Getting past the logistics of how this being lives, moves and exists is hard for me, because that is a concrete thing that my mind clings to. After a while in the dim light of the crypt, I just have to accept that these things will never be answered and that they simply don’t matter.
Once my mind is relaxed enough, I am able to enter into a conversation with him. He tells me that he is not a monster. He is a force of life and death, bearing the gifts of bread and fish. What comes from his mouth is the air of life and he breathes this into the world. He is power and strength and lets me know that even monsters bear blessings. I feel a sense of holiness there with him in the crypt. Later, I emerge squinting into the late November afternoon. It is the start of a beautiful friendship.