Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Tale of Two Cathedrals

June 16, 2013

The Gothic cathedrals of France are renowned for their innovative architecture and beautiful stained glass.  Historian Lynda Harper Kelly and her husband, architect Frank S. Kelly, have immersed themselves in the history, architecture, and culture of France.  This fall, journey back to France with Lynda and Frank to explore t
wo similar, yet different, majestic Gothic cathedrals – one in the city of Amiens, and the other in the city of Bourges. Frank Kelly’s detailed photographs, taken during the Kellys’ extensive travels in France, provide vivid illustrations to this fascinating November Sunday lecture.  We recently spoke with Lynda to find out more.

WIH Reporter: Why did you decide to focus on these two particular cathedrals?

Kelly: A lot of people think that the French cathedrals are all alike, but they’re not.  While they are both in the Northern Go
thic style, these are two very different cathedrals.  Amiens has the more traditional cruciform plan, a nave crossed by a transcept.  Bourges, however, doesn’t have a transept.  It is a really unique design consisting of a nave and then two side aisles with progressive heights creating an amazing space.  Bourges is in the Loire Valley in central France and the city of Amiens is north of Paris.

WIH Reporter: What are some of the important features of these structures?

Kelly: We’ll focus on the stained glass and the sculpture.  Most of the stained glass in Amiens, has unfortunately been destroyed over the years, but Bourges has some of the finest stained glass in France.  Many of the stained glass artists who worked in Bourges, also worked in Chartres, which as many people know is renowned worldwide for its stained glass.

Both churches have outstanding sculpture, as well.  The West facade of Bourges has recently been restored.  At Amiens, we’ll discuss the West facade and also the two transept doors, which are also significant.

An interesting thing about Amiens is that when they were laser cleaning the West facade a few years ago, they discovered traces of the original paint colors.  Most people don’t realize that these cathedrals were brightly-colored, both inside and out.  Very strong, bold colors that have faded over the centuries.

I encourage visitors to France to go to Amiens on summer evenings to view a spectacular light projection show in which they shine these original colors directly onto the facade to try and re-create the cathedral’s 13th century appearance.  We enjoyed this amazing experience last year and took photos and we’ll certainly cover this during the lecture.

This Sunday lecture will take place on November 13th from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

The Yoga Philosophy: Awakening to Your Inner Harmony

June 21, 2013

Writer and long time yoga practitioner, Monette Chilson, will join us for an upcoming Sunday lecture based on her book, Sophia Rising: Awakening Your Sacred Wisdom (Bright Sky Press, Summer 2013).
This fascinating lecture will examine yoga’s philosophical underpinnings and reveal how yoga practitioners from any faith can use their yoga to create a sacred inner space in harmony with their religious beliefs.  We spoke recently with Monette to ask her more.

WIH Reporter: What is important for us to know about your upcoming lecture?

Chilson: We get a lot of misinformation about yoga.  What I’ve done in the book and I hope to do in the lecture is to go through the spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of yoga to show that they are compatible with any religion or spirituality.

In the culture that we live in, we are so fast-paced, so go-go-go.  Most people have heard of the Yin and Yang, the complementary forces that interact to form a whole.  We are very Yang in our culture, so anything that gives you a little more Yin brings you into a space where you can see and feel the sacred.

In our Western religions, we THINK about God and we intellectualize.  We don’t EXPERIENCE God as much as in Eastern religions.  We memorize and read, but we don’t have these tools for sitting and being still anymore.  Early Christianity had that, but we’ve lost the tradition.  I will draw a lot of comparisons in the lecture between some of the contemplative traditions of early Christianity and some parts of yoga such as the breathing and the mudras, which are the hand gestures.

WIH Reporter: What else can you tell us about the mind body connection that is so important in yoga?

Chilson: Our culture is starting to recognize and reclaim this integration of the mind and body, which is very exciting.  There are centers in Houston’s medical community that are actually at the forefront of getting this conversation started.  So, we’re in a good place for that, we just need more voices talking about those connections.  In the West, we like to compartmentalize the body, the mind, and then the spirit.  Living holistically, you don’t compartmentalize, you harmonize.

This Sunday lecture will take place on September 15th from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm.  Copies of Sophia Rising: Awakening Your Sacred Wisdom (Bright Sky Press, Summer 2013) will be available for sale and signing by the author following the lecture.