Meet Copernicus: No. 1 of 40 Forts

The first of forty small paper sculptures this Lenten season

The first of forty small paper sculptures this Lenten season

Meet Copernicus. I had no idea he would be starring in the first of forty forts, but here he is. And I couldn’t be more delighted to introduce him.

Last night, I sat down to a quiet apartment to finish my first small sculpture. I was really starting to regret my decision because yesterday was technically Day Two of Lent and I still hadn’t finished my first piece. I had to keep reminding myself that I just promised forty forts by Easter. Technically I have Sundays off, which in this case means I have Sundays on. But I thought I’d keep going and deliberately try to ignore my inner critic, who is already overwhelmed.

I knew from the beginning I would use this unfinished Valentine for Henry for my first piece. It was already made for the most part. I just needed to add the content. Plus I did just relaunch my web site despite major difficulties. Nowhere did I promise to start from scratch each day.

I found the paper while recycling a Martha Stewart Magazine. It was an article on forcing branches. I loved that the first piece was draped with budding forced branches across the top folds and cascading down the sides of the paper tent. Especially since sukkots are shelters built with loose tree limbs scattered across the roof in order to gaze up to God. Plus the dark gray exterior cloaks a yummy warm yellow inside. How perfect – a lovely metaphor for revealing your inner thoughts, as challenged in the poem What The Hell.

All day I thought of ripping open the paper curtain to reveal the glow. Maybe using a stanza from Hafiz. But when it came down to it, I grabbed a packet of stamps from Lucy’s toys.

Since all of the stamps were in the “black and white” category, the pickings were slim. But this one stamp stood out. A man was holding a glowing stick. Perfect. Should I hide his head? Nah… Plus I liked that the stamp was worth eight cents. Dr. Ballenger spoke about the significance of the number eight in his sermon. And eight has been prominent in my Welcome piece, which I am currently reworking.

I looked a little closer and found Copernicus’ name beneath the cancellation stamp. I did a quick Google search and discovered that he was the first to introduce the concept that the Earth rotated around the sun versus the sun rotating around the Earth. He was an astronomer and I thought that including this star gazer seemed appropriate.

She was startled when she opened her tent and found Copernicus there.

She was startled when she opened her tent and found Copernicus there.

As I continued to work, I had a couple of different phrases I kept repeating in my mind. In the end I settled on the following. Just about that time, Henry returned home and I asked him what he thought. He loved it. So I settled down and added the text to the piece. These pearly rays are supposed to be from the light shining into the tent.

She was startled when she opened her tent and found Copernicus there.

a close-up of Copernicus and the starry sky above

Once I finished the piece, I read his bio and was so pleased with how fitting his story is. Copernicus was a Renaissance man, mathematician, astronomer, poet, artist and on and on. He enjoyed spending time in a small room in a tower on the walls of the city were he could gaze at the stars. After a year, he concluded that the sun did not rotate around the earth, but the other way around. This was a radical concept that infuriated the Catholic Church.

Being a perfectionist, he didn’t really pursue publishing his ideas until a younger mentee encouraged him. This revelation meant that humans were no longer the center of the universe, but part of it. Copernicus’ ideas were on the forefront of environmentalism. Instead of dominating the other species, we should be stewards. I encourage you to read this brief biography because it is quite interesting and inspiring. And quite honestly, because he is the first distant mentor I have met on this spiritual journey.

And now for the icing on the cake…
I continued my Internet search and found another bio, which was not as interesting as the last. But buried in the text I discovered that his birthday is TODAY! Wow! Unbelievable. I was about to explode.

Happy Birthday, Copernicus. You would be 637 today.

This paper sculpture, roughly the size of a coffee cup, is one of forty forts I created during Lent 2010 as a creative exercise and spiritual exploration.

Read about all of the Forty Forts.

Previous: The Impetus of Forty Forts
Next: Worth the Wait: No. 2 of 40 Forts

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  1. Kim

    I love it! How fabulous and fitting and “artist’s way.” I am going to send you my birth plan in case you want to make a tent out of it.

  2. Caroline (Author)

    That’s a great idea. So can it be one of the 40?

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