Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jerusalem in miniature

I had the time, and I couldn’t resist stopping at the Ave Maria Grotto, described to me as a miniature Jerusalem at a Benedictine Abbey near Cullman, Alabama, north of Birmingham.

I’d never heard of it until I got an e-mail from one of the monks; it didn't win the vote as one of my stops. And I can guess why: it sounds a bit tacky.

Turns out it’s anything but. The natural garden and surrounding woods have been painstakingly transformed into recreations not only of Jerusalem but of many of the world’s great monuments. Each is a sculpture crafted in stone, shells and colored glass over 40 years by Brother Joseph Zoettl at St. Bernard Abbey.

In its own way, it was much like Birmingham artist Joe Minter’s African Village – a message of hope to the world, and a testament to the things that give meaning to a person’s life.

Brother Joseph believed in Christianity; Joe Minter too believes that society needs a better path.

And what about the rapaciously cruel Bull Connor? He believed his way – of segregation at any cost -- was right. Tunnel vision is a dangerous thing.

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