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65 After Kenneth’s purchase of the Corbin estate, I learned that we could expect a third child in ­ mid-May of 1950. My husband hoped for a boy, but gender did not matter to me. The arrival of a third daughter would not have dampened my jubilation. Whether male or female, the waxing fetus within me accompanied us on our walks over the farm, which ­ were our unborn child’s first stage of “Owenization.” The ­ poet-­ patriot of En­ glishness Rudyard Kipling would have called us advocates of “inherited continuity.”1 One November afternoon in 1949, shortly before our return to Houston , I climbed the crest of Indian Mound. Alone on the windswept hill shorn of October’s festive foliage, I remembered my covenant with Abraham , the patriarch of Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Whether my experience the year after my marriage was real or imagined, the indisputable reality of a bleak, turbulent world beyond the safe borders of rural Indiana stared at me accusingly that solitary afternoon. If I had been commanded to find common values between three Abrahamic religions and among compassionate people regardless of their beliefs, then I needed to act as ChaptER 7 May Day Fête 66 New Harmony, indiana though I had been commanded. But how, I kept asking, would I find an altar or build a place of welcome for all faiths without denying or slighting my ­ well-­ rooted Episcopal tradition and Jesus, the anointed Christ? The question, overlarge for me, I laid upon my Lord’s ample lap, and I took comfort from knowing that it was seedtime for winter rye in Kenneth’s pastures and seedtime in me. Answers did come, incrementally, during my ­in-­waiting Houston days and with my reinvolvement with two lifelong infatuations, the art of sculpture and the month of May, a month devoted to Mary for Catholics and, in ­ pre-Christian eras, sacred to goddesses of grain and rebirth, such as Persephone, who returned semiannually from Pluto’s underground kingdom to green the earth. Could my obsession with art and the theme of resurrection as expressed through the feminine join forces to help me obey an assumed command from Indian Mound? A strong case could be made to choose sculpture as the catalyst. While art in its various forms is an immediate barometer of what is happening in a culture, its sculptural vocabulary defines, for me, the ethos of a period of history more nearly than the music, literature, or architecture. For instance , had archeologists not unearthed artifacts of wood, bone, ceramic, metal, and crude carvings in stone, we’d know little or nothing about ancient civilizations. Our most remote ancestors either left no written rec­ ords or left none that survived, and their formal architecture, if any, did not endure. We must rely largely on carved objects to fill gaps in our knowledge of human history. Therefore, I chose sculpture as my bridge between civilizations and my ally when pondering how to keep my covenant . Sculpture also enriches and informs our adult lives. Carved stone or wood lifts our spirits in a ­ house of prayer, whether a Christian image or the serene countenance of the Buddha that deeply affected Thomas Merton when he visited Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on his Asian journey. We can appreciate the difference between Greek and Roman civilizations when a­fifth-­century bc marble statue from the time of Phidias stands alongside a Roman copy. We can sense the distance between the twelfth and thirteenthcenturiesoffaithandtheRe ­nais­sanceifwecontrastthe­flat-­chested stone saints that flank the portals of Chartres Cathedral with Michelangelo ’s more rounded and ­full-­breasted carvings of the Mother of God. The­so-­called vale of tears lay three centuries behind Michelangelo; the age of­science-­oriented, robust humanity lay before him. May Day Fête 67 Such ­ were the thoughts that shaped my conviction that art in general and sculpture in par­ tic­ u­ lar express the character of a period in history and the level of its spirituality more profoundly than its written word. Many years would pass before I discovered a way to reengage art, religion, and the month of May. But my addiction to art and my delight in defying the status quo seemed always present in my DNA. For instance, when ten years old, I refused to put on the costume my Sunday school teacher required me to wear at the church’s May Day celebration. I was told to exchange my sheer tunic, patterned...


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