Friday, 24 August 2012

Bruges III - canals and motherhood

When you step behind the grand buildings of Bruges you find yourself in a picturesque world of canals and leafy walks and parks. As I was there in peak season August there were loads of people around, but far from spoiling it, it brought the old stones and quiet waters to life. I strolled around some of the better known parts of the extensive canal system. They circle the old city and several run across it too. There are beautiful old stone bridges, wonderful brick buildings, and more green than I expected. And everywhere you spot the Belfry or the spires of one of the many churches.
Cafes and restaurants are also everywhere - not surprising in such a well-visited place. Prices are high, but you can pick up a good meal withut breaking the bank. After a light pasta lunch I carried on my wander to Our Lady's Church, close to the main canal. There was an entry fee as it is classed as part of the city Museums, but it's not every day that you visit a church that is the proud owner of a Michelangelo. His "Madonna and Child" sits above the altar in the righthand chapel, a gift to the church from a citizen who had bought it in Italy. I stood before it for some time.
We have seen so many images of this famous scene - Our Lady holding her precious Baby. It takes a Michelangelo to make you realise how shallow and everyday most of those images are. I found that this statue became more meaningful and indeed poweful the longer I looked at it. The baby is big, the Mother is calm, and even appeared stern at first, but as I watched she became more concerned than stern. She is truly watching over her Divine offspring, but her gaze is already slighly away from Him, perhaps pondering, as St Luke would put it.. The Child nestles between her knees, gingerly stepping out into the world. She knows that one day she will have to let Him go, but not yet. For now, he plays and giggles. The nails can wait.  

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