Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ne Pleurez Plus, Entrez: The Matisse Chapel

Stain Glass Windows in Chapel du Rossaire (Sylvia's "Matisse Chapel")
"I was desolate and wandered to the back of the walled nunnery, where I could see a corner of the Chapel and sketched it, feeling like Alice outside the garden, watching the doves and orange trees" Sylvia Plath wrote to her mother, in January 1956, after being denied entrance to the Matisse Chapel, a "small, clean-cut" building with a "blue tile roof sparkling in the sun", a site she had come to "love via pictures for years".  After Plath finished her sketched that afternoon, she walked "back to the front [of the Chapel] and stared" with her "face through the barred gate" and began to cry because she "knew it was so lovely inside, pure white with the sun through blue, yellow, and green stained windows."  Then something quite unusal, by any seasoned European travelers standards, happened, as she stood despairing Plath heard a voice say: "Ne pleurez plus, entrez," and then the Mother Superior welcomed  Sylvia into her beloved Matisse Chapel, "after denying all the wealthy people in cars."  When she entered, Plath "knelt in the heart of the sun and the colors of the sky, sea, and sun in the pure white heart of the Chapel."  "Vous etes si gentille" Sylvia "stammered" in thanks to which the Mother Superior replied: "C'est la miseriorde de Dieu."  And "It was" Plath assured her mother the mercy of God.  In my humble opinion, the Matisse Chapel incident is the definition of a miracle.  We spend so much of our existenece  with our faces pressed against the bars, knowing that what our hearts desire most is just out of reach in a pure white Chapel with the sun streaming in through blue, yellow, and green stained glass windows.  Aren't we all waiting for an act of love and compassion?  We long to hear: "Ne pleurez plus, entrez."

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