Tag Archives: Savoy

D.H. Lawrence, Saint Francis and True Humility

I was reading in Robert MacFarlane’s Landmarks (London, Hamish Hamilton, 2015, p107) a couple of  lines from D.H. Lawrence.

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The dandelion in full flower, a little sun bristling with sun-rays on the green earth, is a non-pareil, a nonsuch. Foolish, foolish, foolish to compare it to anything else on earth. It is itself incomparable and unique.

As Macfarlane points out, Lawrence is contradicting himself by comparing the flower to the sun. We contradict ourselves all the time, and indeed we compare things all the time; it is not always destructive. ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ suggests that Shakespeare saw plenty to praise in the recipient of his sonnet.

Francis set out to praise in his Canticle of the Creatures:

Praised be You, My Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun,

Who is the day and through whom you give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,

And bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

If Brother Sun bears a likeness of the Creator, and the dandelion is a little sun on the green earth, perhaps we should be out of doors on our knees more often. We may have to pull up Brother Dandelion, but we can still admire this humble, radiant flower of the field and praise its maker.

This cream coloured variant of the dandelion caught my eye near Vallorcines in French Savoy.

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The Dormition

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This carving of the Dormition of Mary was in the Church of St Maurice in Talloires, Savoy, where we were on holiday last week. Despite the poor reproduction – an old-fashioned phone camera in a dark corner – the sense of Mary as one of a community with the disciples, as part of a family, is clear. John took her into his home, indeed.

And yet, that white sheet separates her body from the living disciples around her. She is no longer among them but with her risen Son.

I read* that the English word cemetery comes from the Greek Koimisis, meaning falling asleep in death. May we all awake to new life tomorrow morning in this world, and in the world to come, when we are called. Perhaps the Feast of the Dormition or Assumption is the day we should visit our loved ones’ graves, rather than a cold day in November, when the trees are bare and life seems to be on hold. In August we can see life coming to fruition in field, orchard and hedgerow. Unless a grain of wheat shall fall …


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