The image in this painting is admittedly somewhat surreal — a set of seemingly unrelated objects thrown together in a bathroom: a stepladder exploding upwards, a twin self-portrait, a toothbrush holder in the shape of the Tower of Babel, a half-hidden face barely distinguishable from the wall, a cherubic angel escaping from a cloud-drenched mirror, an armed demon stitched into a bath towel. What could this possibly mean?
“Blue Christ Waiting Behind the Towels” is the latest in my “Blue Christ” series. Taking clues from my recent reading in sacramental theology, this series attempts to explore presentations of the abiding, immanent, enduring presence of Christ in all creation. This we can happily assent to if this places Christ in the splendid beauty and order of the natural world. However, we seem to be less able to imagine Christ as present and effective in our own immediate lived environments. We are more comfortable with Christ and the whole realm of heaven as being other-worldly — beyond our active engagement. We instead prefer to fashion our own mediating objects — devices, images, and processes to engage our attention.
I think it a most valuable practice to develop ways of imaging the presence of Christ as utterly and lovingly immanent — immediate [without mediation] to our living situations and the face of the other.
It takes the eyes of faith and the steadfastness of hope to acknowledge and know the presence of Christ, the heart of creation.
I think that we are often mistaken when we imagine our spiritual struggles as being a kind a heroic battle between cosmic forces. More often than not, however, our decisions and actions that affect the spiritual realm happen in very mundane moments and contexts. It is a matter or being awake, paying attention, effectively "praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion" (v.18) If we are intent on doing, this our lives will "make known the mystery of the Gospel." (v.19)
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