― Albert Einstein
The past days and weeks have been so full of sorrow and pain. Shootings and destruction, hate and madness. Let's take a moment to reflect and gather our thoughts at one of my favorite spots in Lonlay l'Abbaye, the bridge over the river Egrenne behind the Mairie. Below is a short video of the narrow river near this spot, with the old cider press and the 11th century Abbey on either side. Nature heals what man destroys.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein
While I wait for further pictures of the progress on our tiny house, I've been looking more closely at some of the photos I took last summer when I first visited the village. Which reminded me of this very curious artifact - a head attached to the side of the ancient abbey itself!
The photos below will demonstrate that it appears to be at about the same level as some other nondescript stumps in the walls - this one being the only one with a personality.
As you can see, this head protrudes high above eye level, about 15 feet off the ground. Who is he? And what is his purpose? He has an odd expression: showing teeth as if in a forced smile. But maybe he is meant to look fierce and frightening.
He is definitely not a gargoyle, not in the traditional sense of those fearsome waterspouts, as his mouth has no real opening. The head might be that of a decapitated saint. That would explain his pained look.
Could he have been one of the abbots from centuries ago? Or one of the original builders or architects? As is so often the case, the answer may remain a mystery, which is one of the most endearing aspects of French history.
The abbey dates back to the 11th century, but I do not know how old the wall is that holds the head, nor if the head is older than that wall. These are the kinds of questions one never needs to ask oneself in Los Angeles.
Come to think of it, if I saw this on a wall in Los Angeles, I'd think it was somebody's idea of a super Chia pet. You don't expect that kind of nonsense in France. Next time we're there, I'll ask the mayor.