Nancy and I were on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands not far from the French coast of Normandy, from Friday afternoon through Tuesday morning. The occasion for being there was to lead a retreat on pilgrimage, but we had two days to visit friends and explore parts of the island, eight by four miles, with its beaches, bays, cliffs and forests.
One of the highlights was seeing a Celtic burial chamber, Le Déhus Dolmen, more than 4000 years old, and finding carved into its ceiling an astonishing icon-like face.
The chamber is about ten meters deep and not quite two meters high at maximum, walled by large standing stones, with another standing stone in the center of the main chamber, and huge stones forming a roof. Over the stone roof is a grassed-over earthen mound.
I am always touched by the art work of our distant ancestors but have never before come upon a life-size image of the human face from so long ago. It reminded me especially of the Pantocrator icon where one stands before an image of Christ seen face to face. It also makes me think of Adam. Despite the extreme simplicity of image, one senses an actual person,
11 September 2003