The shroud is 12" x 32' and made of hand knit plastic, yarn, beads and gold thread. The plastic strips are from shredded dry cleaner bags, and symbolize the mundane nature of our shrouds, while the gold thread is chosen for those things in our lives woven with the worthless that makes our personal, spiritual shrouds so difficult to give up. I chose to combine the materials with knitting for its feminine connotations. I deliberately chose to make an object that isn't beautiful, as a reflection of the misunderstandings we often have about ourselves. Look closely and notice the wrapping is far from perfect: there are holes. This reflects the holes in our own logic with which we create our personal shrouds.
There are different facets to this piece. On one hand, it is a sacred object, since it is a tool that has been used in rituals, and like other sacred tools, in performance and healings. Its primary purpose is not to sit in a gallery, but to be used.The shroud has a shamanistic character in thatit evokes a discarded snake skin, rather than to be part of a traditional liturgy.
The Shroud: Unwrapping Lazarus: is used as part of a unique
and original retreat for Christians of all ages. The retreat focuses on the experience of how we are like the Lazarus of John's gospel. Participants share how they learned to ask to be "unwrapped," untied, and released from those things that constrict our inner freedom. Jesus said, "Lazarus, come out," and to his friends,
"untie him. We are all Lazarus. Like him, we are that special friend of Christ. Like Lazarus, we are in need to be called out, unwrapped, untied and released from what constricts and binds our spirits.It is about the grace and freedom we gain when we respond to the voice of the Lord.
The shroud is a part of a new feminist spirituality which seeks to create healing rituals where there are none. Feminist spirituality asserts that abstract thought and the rational mind are only one means of seeking and understanding God. It seeks to correct this imbalance by paying "attention to difference and diversity in women's experience" (Rakoczy 233). It is our very particular experiences and perspectives as women that have often been neglected.In order to flourish and live the abundant life that Christ promised, we often have had to be inventive and break new ground. "Women's rituals are distinctive in their use of the body, affectivity, creativity and the arts" (245). The shroud from Unwrapping Lazarus is meant to be used
to connect and heal, using the intuitive means within ourselves, others and God's grace.
Rakoczy, S. "Creating Space for Faith to Flourish." Intersections of Feminist Christology and Ecclesiology. Leuven: Liturgisch Instituut,
QL 86 (2005): 232-243.
see a sample program for Unwrapping Lazarus
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All images and writings are © of Nancy Rakoczy.