The Grapevine Art & Soul Salon

Dublin Diary: Barbara Knott

Cock on a Cathedral

We are across the street looking up at the spire
of Christ Church in Dublin when I notice a cockerel
mounted at the highest point, and my thoughts drift
into the notion that we have here a symbol of something
outside the ken of what I know about Christian symbol making.
I know the number three is important in Irish iconography.
Maybe the builders put the cock there to signify the importance
of the one that crew three times, each sound implicating
Peter in a betrayal of Jesus, but why would any church elevate
the cock? After all, it has longtime associations with sexual
innuendo, and Church dogma declares the ideal human
condition is celibate. Let that sink in.

I am thinking now of D. H. Lawrence’s story
“The Man Who Died” that he intended to call
“The Escaped Cock,” a story about Jesus rising
from the dead and returning to earthly life as a lover
without mission. I am glad Jesus did what He did and yes
I capitalized He because I am reverent, and I welcome
a holy place and holy story, and Jesus loved me to the universe
and back when I was young and needed direction and He
through the Methodist parson told me to get an education.
Which I did, and one conclusion I came to is that virginity
cannot be, as the Church would have it, the ideal
expression of what it means to be fully human.

When Mary’s virginity was overshadowed by the dove
earth and body became part of the divine drama, but
the Church waited until 1950 CE to declare the doctrine
of the Assumption of Mary to make a fourth with God the Father
the Son, and the Holy Ghost, thus uniting feminine and masculine
terrestrial and spiritual, sinful and divine. I am glad Protestants
had already made God accessible to ordinary men and women
going about earthly business. I want my God to care about
the real cocks of the world: the ones that crow and those
that grow proudly full of passion in the presence of beauty
and invitation. I believe that we receive Holy Spirit
by accepting our individual lives Christlike

in creativity and compassion, suffering what we must
and singing still our songs of human love, of flowers and herbs
and trees, of birds and beasts and stones. Having explored
all these risky matters without any deviation from my reverence
for the Church and those who suffered it into reality for the challenge
and grace of us all, having gone into the holy shrine and looked
with awe upon its majesty, having chatted with an Irish-friendly priest
explored the sarcophagus of Strongbow, a warrior savior
having heard the choir rehearse glorious sacred music sung
to the thundering pipes of a godlike organ, having
lit candles for those back home who need them
I am with Jonathan again on the street looking up.

I nudge my son to see the rooster atop
the magnificent edifice. He does and looks back
at me with a glint in his eye that lets me know he
is only half kidding when he says
“I think it is a weathervane.”

Copyright 2017, Barbara Knott. All Rights Reserved.