Our Lady is on Fire by Sara Wright

I entered the Silent Tomb;
the Mosque felt
devoid of Presence.
 We wandered through
a myriad of glorious arched rooms,
ornately carved woodwork –
soft carpeted floors.
Removing our shoes
we spoke softly
in deference to
Something ineffable?
Each tiled courtyard,
Mute, yet
starred in
cobalt blue.
Opaque light streamed
through precisely cut
geometric shapes,
domed ceilings
cracked the heavenly stream
into patterned shards.
High mud walls
kept Creation
at bay.
Fruit trees
twisted by bitter west winds
ragged junipers
sagging in sorrow
rendered invisible
by those who choose
not to see…
I wept for the casually discarded
living breathing
Beings –
Pulsing with Light.
Beyond white sand walls
the stark white capped
Mountains cried out in torment
“Here we are!”
“Sangre de Christos” –
it is our body, our blood
that has been shed
not just his.
Stretching north –
Ridged, ribbed serpents
split the continent in two,
valley gorges meandered far below
arroyos flooded Rio Grande
and all the colors of
the rainbow streamed
out of mud and stone.

I picked a fragrant branch
on my way out –
a blushing apple blossom.
Re – attaching myself
to Her through a plant,
to what is tangibly real
helped me to breathe…
I felt the split
between mind and body
heal the artificial division
that I had just experienced
beneath words –
Inside and outside
remain perpetually at war
for so many.
I stared –
Transfixed by a miraculous painting –
bewildering beauty
stretched around me
from horizon to horizon
I bloomed with the usual awe.
Turning back I gazed at
the graceful rounded lines
of a “holy place”
where Nature was kept at bay
by stark walls,
lack of windows,
cold shadowy halls.

Why is it that humans
can no longer see
that the ‘holy’
may manifest
in man made structure
but containment
requires situating
oneself in the Whole?

At home
When I placed the
budded branch in water
I recalled another
holy place engulfed by flames.
“Our Lady” is on fire
during this week of
as once again
body is severed from
the spirit to which it belongs.


Working Notes:

Yesterday I spent more than an hour with a friend exploring a huge and empty Mosque situated just down the road from me… this beautiful structure was situated high on the Mesa with the snow covered Sangre de Christo mountains (Rockies) in the distance – other mesas and volcanic mountains stretched in every direction. The whole landscape was draped in pale spring green. A deep blue sky held a white star in her arms…

Once inside the enormous structure all light was diffused and entered only from ABOVE – mostly covered by some kind of translucent material or plastic… Each magnificent courtyard was enclosed – stone, tile adobe, star patterns carved into ornate wooden doors – The arched doorways and niches were astonishing to behold.

And yet, my body felt heavy – “de -pressed” in some fundamental way. It wasn’t until I was outside the compound that I realized that what I had experienced was a brutal and mind – body split as I was FORCIBLY separated from Nature’s beauty while wandering about inside this extraordinary building…

From my point of view this compound reflected in a concrete way how religions force us to make a choice between loving natural beauty and “worshipping” in man made structures. Churches etc. separate us from wholeness, creating a split that damages not only humans and all non human beings, but allows us to discard this beloved planet that is our home.

How in such a magnificent setting could people separate themselves from their landscape as effectively as this place had?

Then I thought of Notre Dame burning…. “Our Lady” is going up in flames.

I do not believe in coincidence. The message implicit in the burning down of the cathedral in France during the Christian holy week also speaks to what we are doing to the Earth.

Indeed this is the week of Earth’s Crucifixion even as Christians and Jews celebrate resurrection – freedom from the body, slavery, and redemption.


Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Northern New Mexico.

Categories: General, Nature, Poetry, Women's Spirituality, Women's Voices

Tags: , ,

9 replies

  1. Love this poem, Sara. Thank you.


  2. Thank you Esther. I always feel very alone during holy week since my perspective is so different.


  3. Very striking description! I didn’t know there was a mosque in New Mexico. When I saw the news about Notre Dame burning on TV, I just lost my breath. I had to focus on breathing as I watched, every time the TV news showed the cathedral. I’m glad they saved so much of the art inside the church.


  4. Thanks, Sara Wright, for your depth of understanding here —
    absolutely love this delightful, fascinating insight…

    “Why is it that humans
    can no longer see
    that the ‘holy’
    may manifest
    in man made structure
    but containment
    requires situating
    oneself in the Whole?”


  5. Thank you! This is a question that haunts me…


  6. Beautiful poem. Your writing also reminded me of the Squirrel Hill incident – not repeating here and giving the perpetrator more satisfaction that he’s still being remembered, and how places of worship like Mosques and the Notre Dame are also under attack. It is terrifying how places of worship, comfort, and peace are being disturbed and destroyed by violence (in some cases). I only hope that one day they will go back to being places of solitude and grace again.


  7. I don’t wish to discourage you but i don’t think we can go back – not now.


  8. Nature is the strongest evidence of the nearness of God’s love outside of our bodies. Beautifully expressed.


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