THE PHOENIX – to the right you see the cloistered portion of the reredos with an awesome wood-carved Phoenix.
Before moving to the great Southwest about 5 years ago, I never gave much thought to the symbolic meaning of the Phoenix. Sure I knew it was a bird that rose from the ashes, but I never gave it a second thought. But that was yesterday and yesterday is gone!
In case, like me, you’ve never given the Phoenix much thought nor made the Christian symbolic connection, allow me to share what I’ve learned: The Phoenix is a mythical creature with beautiful gold and red plumage. At the end of its life-cycle the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes. But that’s not the end of the story. The Phoenix would then rise from the ashes in victory.
Thinking of the today’s Feast, the Triumph of the Cross, it’s not hard to see the correlation between the Cross and Resurrection AND the ‘death of the Phoenix’ and it’s rising in victory.
Our Beloved Lord is the King of Kings – robed in gold! He is also the King of Martyrs – robed in red. The fire of His Love set the world aflame, as He hung upon the Cross. His death brought life. But at first glance, everything seemed to be reduced to ashes…
Yes, with only a cursory look, the Cross looked like defeat. But that wasn’t the case, was it? We know the end of the story. We know that our salvation was won upon that mount.
We remember the garden, the Gardener, and Mary Magdalene: “Mary!”- “Rabboni!” “Go and tell me brothers…” The Lord is risen as He promised – Alleluia. We know the Victory was won…The Phoenix rising from the ashes gives us all hope. It reminds us of our ultimate hope – The Tomb is Empty…Alleluia!
(Check out more pics at: http://medievaldreams2reality.blogspot.com/2010/09/more-pics-at-long-last.html)
Thank you so much for a very interesting blog post. What a beautiful analogy. Blessings to you all!
Kathleen in Maine
Thanks for a beautiful reflection on the Phoenix and the cross. I am looking forward to see the completion of your monastery and future posts. Blessings.