Sr Wendy Beckett continues her spiritual meditations in Contemplative Art
Anish Kapoor: Mother as a Mountain (1985).
ANISH Kapoor is half Hindu, half Jewish, both traditions which have a great reverence for the mother figure. His sculptures are essentially sacred objects, to be contemplated less for what they are than for the idea behind them.
Yet the numinous can only work on us through the visible, and what is primarily visible, and almost tangible here, are the materials of his work. He has used wood, gesso and pigment, a silent invocation of the powdery pigments used in Hindu festivals. Mother as a Mountain is densely coated with red powder, and it spills out in a tide around the base, keeping the viewer at a distance and marking the place out as holy ground. The graffiti on the surrounding walls express the dim strivings and approximations through which he arrived at the awesome stillness of the final figure.
Julian of Norwich tells us that God is our mother and surely He is the primal mother-as-amountain. That gracious regal solemnity that is infinitely protective and infinitely tender, whose beauty is wholly for us, the children. We can never comprehend the holy mountain, but we know that access is not conditional on completeness or indeed anything but need and desire.
The mountain is "open", we came from it and will return to it. Your holy mountain rises in beauty, the joy of all the earth, sings the psalmist. We are too often daunted by the height, the unscaleable degree of the folds. We forget that the Mountain is Mother, more desirous to receive and protect us than can be imagined.
If the sacredness of its being keeps us at a distance, it does not so keep the Holy Son, Jesus. In Him is our access, our safety. Jesus who called Yahweh "Abba" is He who leads us into the heart of the MotherMountain.