Thought for the week, 2nd December; a new illuminated bible

A new illuminated Bible, created by hand, has just been completed. This is the first time for 500 years such a Bible has been commissioned by a Benedictine monastery; in this case, St John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, in the USA. The project was first discussed in 1998, when a calligrapher, Donald Jackson, approached the community with a proposal for the book. It took 15 years for the book to be created. There is of course just one original, but 300 copies have also been produced and cost a minimum of $160,000 each. One is now in Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Some may question the purpose of the project. I however am with the monks who commissioned the Bible, in order to “ignite the spiritual imagination”. Imagination is one of the defining marks of being human, it allows us to reach out, to see beyond the present into the realms of what-can-be, what we long for. Art, in all its forms, can take us to places words and logic cannot. Donald Jackson speaks of how he lets the inanimate materials he works with, paper, wood, glass, “speak from its own personality”, how he longs “to leave it more handsome than [he] found it”. He breathes “life, soul and rhythm” into letters. I love this vision. This is accessible to anyone, but for myself, as a Christian, it opens a window to God.