If you asked me about the Shroud of Turin, I could speak for hours. Before I saw it in Italy one Easter, I read several books on it. So I could tell you . . .
. . . and she does. It is well written. Jan goes through the history some of which I dispute. She goes through the science and I scream no-no-no here and there as when she writes, “Forensic scientists . . . . charge the radiologists with sampling a Poor Clare patch.”
But she call the historsy and the science straw. I like where she goes with it even if I disagree with the flash of light and the ponytail and the chrysanthemums and the backlighting:
Because there’s something that leaves me speechless, something I didn’t read in books, something that didn’t strike me till I stood in the dark cathedral among a praying crowd and stared at the backlit Shroud suspended on a wall before me, so close I could have touched its fibers, the imprint, the blood.
That something is this: Jesus was a man, a man no bigger than my son, one man among the billions who have lived or ever will. And one spring evening long ago, he pulled his hair into a ponytail to prepare bread and wine for his disciples, as my son pulls on a favorite t-shirt to set out beer and nachos for his friends.
As if it were an ordinary evening.
But it wasn’t an ordinary evening; it was the last one of his life.
And when his mother saw his broken corpse, one she hoped to never see—as I hope to never see my son’s—she tossed a few chrysanthemums upon it, covered it with the Shroud, and left the tomb with her grief.
Then, when all was quiet, a flash of light, a flutter of fabric. An image to hold onto until eternity.
Well, it does look backlit in the photograph.