tagNon-EroticDerby Line Marriage Ch. 30

Derby Line Marriage Ch. 30

byjtuf©

Jovita and Hanna strolled through the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the exhibit on Ancient Egypt. One the way there, Jovita expressed her excitement to Hanna. "Today, we're going to see the history of your ancestors."

Hanna gently disagreed, "My ancestors are Jewish, not Egyptian. The Met doesn't bother showing Jewish culture, because the Jews never established an empire."

"Well, at least there are Jewish museums to compensate for that omission. We can visit one of those another day," Jovita responded.

Burial objects from the beginning of human existence in the Nile Valley to the unification of Egypt 5,000 years ago greeted Jovita and Hanna when they reached the exhibit. The rooms of artifacts progressed chronologically through Egyptian history from there. Religious items from Egypt's Old Kingdom were followed by coffins from the Middle Kingdom. Jovita lingered by the household objects from 35 centuries ago in a room dedicated to the eighteenth dynasty. "Just imagine what it must have been like living at that time," she told Hanna.

"Given the demographics back then, we would probably be slaves or peasants if we lived in Ancient Egypt," Hanna said. "I think this was about the time that the Jews left Egypt for Israel."

Both women proceeded to a room with artwork from the twenty-sixth dynasty. The pieces remained Egyptian in nature even though they had been created during Persian rule over the nation. Two mummies and various funerary equipment represented Egypt under Greek rule. The exhibit ended with artifacts from Egypt under the Roman Empire after Cleopatra's death. The Greco-Roman influence on Egypt was visible in the most recent physical remains.

"Egypt certainly got conquered by many empires," Jovita observed.

"Yes," Hanna agreed. "The march of empires kept going through the Middle East over the centuries. After the Romans, there was the Byzantine Empire with a brief interlude of the Persian control. Next came the various Arab conquests and Ottoman rule. Neighboring Israel went through a similar history of colonization."

Jovita brushed Hanna's arm. "I think the Medieval art collection starts with Byzantine artifacts. Let's go there next."

Hanna followed her girlfriend to the exhibit on Medieval art. As expected, it began with secular and religious items from the Late Roman period to the end of the Byzantine Empire. The next space in the exhibit displayed stained glass windows, and items made of enamel, ivory, and precious metals. The Romanesque and Early Gothic styles fascinated Jovita. Hanna quelled her discomfort with the Christian symbolism around her so as not to upset her lover. Jovita considered the historical significance of the works before her. This was when Western civilization began. Nourished from roots in the Greco-Roman world and Ancient Israel, then developed in the womb of the Catholic Church, Western culture emerged on its own when the Latin Church separated from the East a thousand years ago. The artifacts before her reminded Jovita that, like Jewish culture, Western culture had a long unifying history.

Jovita and Hanna moved on to the Medieval Sculpture Hall. Designed to resemble a European church, it was filled with sculptures, tapestries, furniture, and altarpieces from the 14th and 15th Centuries that made Jovita consider her Christian heritage. Ever since her grandmother said that she was secretly Jewish two weeks ago, she had been struggling with her identity. Could she remain Catholic knowing that her lineage was really Jewish? Should she join the rich Jewish heritage that Hanna embraced? Until then, Jovita had always considered her Christianity to be a purely spiritual part of her life. The Christian objects before her reminded her that there is a cultural side to Christianity too.

Products of the Renascence, Reformation, and Enlightenment were also her birthright as a Westerner. Just as Hanna had Moses and Maimonides, Jovita had Locke and Jefferson. Wasn't looking beyond accidents of birth a key principle in modern Western society? Did it really matter if her ancestors happened to be Jewish instead of Pagan?

Turning right, Jovita and Hanna came to a room of Gothic stained glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, and liturgical objects made from valuable materials. As Jovita sat on a bench looking at a stained glass depiction of Christ's entombment, she realized that Jesus' salvation did more that wipe ways sin. It cleared away tribal affiliation to create a unified humanity. Universalism was the West's gift to the world. It did not make sense to backtrack on it by letting her family origins cloud her dedication to Catholicism. Jovita concluded that she would embrace Western religion, history, and peoplehood just as Hanna held to Judaism. She turned to Hanna and said, "I'm ready to go now."

Hanna slid next to Jovita on the bench. "Good, because I'm getting weary." Then she looked more closely at her love. "You are positively glowing. That exhibit must have really moved you."

"More than I could put in words," Jovita said.

"Then I'm glad I shared it with you," Hanna told her. "Whatever is important to you is important to me."

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