Monday, July 28, 2014

visions of god

An incredible illumination from a 13th-century French book of hours, depicting God in the act of creating the  world. Having completed the sky, the sun (l) and moon (r), and the seas, the author and architect  of the cosmos now  prepares to give shape and form to the center of the medieval unverse -- earth. 

When I first saw him, at age 5, he was very much  like this image, only older & calmer, & the earth was older as well.

I first saw him on the way home from kindergarten one day. It wasn't as dramatic as William Blake's seeing the face of the Almighty thru a window when he was 3, but it answered all my questions.

This is the corner where I saw God for the first time. there was a large sign frame on the lawn, facing the corner, and one day on my way home from Kindergarten, after successfully negotiating the Market Street crossing (kinda scary for a little kid), I found myself in front of a poster which showed God levitating the earth between his outstretched palms.


An elderly gentleman with long, silver hair and beard, God was decidedly caucasian, and there was no doubt his language of choice was English. He looked pretty much exactly as I thought he would, and I was awestruck by the concreteness of the image. Instead of the vague and invisible sky god I´d heard about, this was finally the real deal, reasurringly familiar. God looked like my friend Lewis´s Uncle Lew, but a hell of a lot cleaner, not to mention much bigger.

And this is where our house used to be. Old Mr. Christie lived alone in the house on the left; the lady who lived on the other side we called "Aunt" Ruth. Every school day I set out from this spot and headed east for the 8-block shuffle toward school.

Finally after a half hour´s trudge and 3 blocks east of Market, I arrived at Garfield Elementary. I finally retraced the route on Google Maps yesterday, after not remembering it for years, and as soon as I saw the cement slab. Knew where I was. Garfield was demolished years ago, and there is no known photo of it. But I´ll always remember the imposing, soot streaked red brick exterior, the huge wooden windows which shrieked in pain as the teachers pried them open in hot weather, the glow of the wooden floors, the cloak room in every classroom where "bad" children were isolated for an hour or two, and most of all, the smell of books, or rather of the glue of their bindings. All these things still exist, but only in the memories of Garfield Elementary´s former inmates.

At the end of my home block I´d turn right on Oak Hill Ave. 60 yrs ago Oak Hill was a bustling scene, with small businesses lining both sides of the street. Mr. White´s grocery was right here on the corner, a tiny shop that was probably one of the first to go.

                                        Oak Hill Ave looking north. A holy roller church
                                             is the only remaining business on this once-
                                             thriving thoroughfare.

To see any of these images full size, click on them. But unless you
be new to computadors, you gnu that.

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