Watching From Afar
acrylic on canvas
16″ x 20′
No one wants to be on the train that’s wrecking. Not many want to watch the disaster unfolding, but when you care intensely about a person, sometimes you cannot take your eyes off the pain and trauma. You watch from the cheap seats in the balcony, rather than paying the full price of orchestra pit, where you can get the front row view, up close and personal.
The Gospel accounts of the crucifixion tell us that the Temple leadership and the Roman soldiers had front row seats at this execution, but the crowds and the followers watched from afar.
Those that had an interest only in the spectacle left once it was over. Those who cared about the person hanging on the cross stayed even after he spent his last breath.
“And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.” (Luke 23:48-49)
This snow scene is the fourth in a series of a single tree representing the various stations of the cross. My personal banker, who’s a member oft church, jogs past this tree all the time. It’s near the Hot Springs Country Club at the corner of Malvern and Bellaire. I took several photos, played in Photoshop in my camera+app and went to work painting on 16″ x 20″ canvases.
I divided the canvas almost equally into quarters and halves. The heavens and the earth are top and bottom. The Christ tree almost splits in two the right and left halves.
“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.” (Matthew 27:51)
The quiet stillness of the snow reminds me both of the pause of death and the hope for the resurrection. Both are contained in the cross of Christ, but those who watch from afar at this moment do not yet have this hope.
The people who live their lives as one train wreck after another want to get off this track, but don’t want to give up control of their lives to a power that can break the chains of death that have held us. “To die to our old selves” is to become a train wreck in the flesh. As we give up these old parts of us, old relationships are rent and have to be reformed in a new manner or we have to part ways with old friends and make new ones instead.
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The good news is that the cross of Christ unites both heaven and earth, life and death, hope and despair, as well as peace and travail.