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Carlisle, United Kingdom

September,  2017


I am fascinated by the ceilings of Cathedrals and Abbeys. Architecture and art must harmonize to evoke a feeling of heaven. These expressions are conscious depictions of heaven or at least thin places. These thin places are the small “s” sacraments that we meet in the world. They are refractions of the Seven Sacraments of our Church: the intensely beautiful encounters we have with Christ.

The main timbers of the ceiling date from 1400, which was part of the rebuilding of the choir throughout the fourteenth century after the fire of 1292. The decorative scheme dates from Ewan Christian’s restoration of the Cathedral 1853-6. The style we see of the restoration followed the medieval original, but the detailed design and colour of the ceiling with the angles and stars was the work of Owen Jones (1809 – 1874), who was one of the great decorative artists of the day. It was last repainted in 1970. (Carlisle Cathedral website)

Where do you find heaven in your life? What are your thin places?

Psalm 8: 1-4

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?

A Thin Place: Carlisle Cathedral Ceiling:  8 x 12

Les Miller is the former Religious Education Coordinator of the York Catholic District School Board and the recipient of the CARFLEO 2009 Archbishop Pocock Award for Excellence in Religious Education. He teaches at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and is a well-respected presenter and workshop facilitator.

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