This sculpture of mine references a space capsule, in particular the one that returned with the heroes of the first moon landing, in July 1969. Instead of the space capsule being the focus of the usual fanfare and historic status that goes with celebrating such a mind-blowing achievement, it holds within its ambit a startling revelation: Superman and Batman’s symbolic relinquishing of their superhero status! They did this by having their respective symbols, the cape and upside-down chair, intersect in the space capsule: that grand symbol of Science and Technology’s apotheosis.
There is an extended ‘turret’ to the space capsule that pulsates with a sardonic appeal, in Morse code, for our souls to be saved. It is a mystery as to who initiated this desperate plea, but I would like to believe that it was our two superheroes!
When the first moon landing took place, I was 17 years old and in my final year of formal schooling. Needless to say, I was awestruck by this phenomenal feat. However, a few years later, cynicism had crept into my soul, causing me to write the following (and hence the sentiments portrayed in this sculpture):
I have counted down
and looked up in accord
with blast off procedure
and yes I was spellbound
but it was the giant leap
for mankind that grounded
Why should such a ‘giant leap for mankind’ ‘ground’ me? To answer this, I need to mention two other events in that momentous year that, together with the July moon landing, had a profound effect on my psyche. They were the Woodstock festival in August, galvanizing the youth of the day into ‘making love not war,’ albeit mostly in a spaced-out, drug induced state; and the other happened in October, when my beloved father died. For complex/inexplicable reasons these three events somehow chose to coalesce in my being into a powerful concoction, poisoning my soul for the next 9 years. Thankfully, in a state of deranged ennui I eventually collapsed at the foot of the Cross, where I had the good sense to surrender myself to Christ’s mercy.
It was by Grace that, on Easter Sunday, 26 March 1978, (after attending the morning service at the Invisible Church in Durban, South Africa), I was baptized in the sea by a bunch of hippies, who were followers of the Way. There was a certain synchronicity to this as my baptism/rebirth took place directly opposite the Addington Children’s Hospital, where I had been born. As I emerged from this unusual baptismal font—the great ocean womb—a hippie-brother-in-Christ embraced me and said “Welcome to the Kingdom of God.” For several moments I thought I had transitioned into an otherworldly realm and had to do a reality check to make sure I was still standing on terra firma!
In that moment of being welcomed into the Kingdom of God, I realized that I was now supernaturally ‘grounded’ in His love and I will never stand alone again. Paul exhorts the Church in Ephesus, and by extension, the whole body of Christ (Ephesians 6 10-20) to stand firm in Christ and to put on that invisible armour of God, that is not cumbersome and yet is a powerful defense against the principalities and powers of darkness and all that comes up against the Truth. Such armour serves to reassure us that, regardless of whatever happens our souls are eternally encapsulated by the Kingdom of Heaven.
I am so grateful that in Joni Mitchell’s perceptive song, ‘Woodstock,’ she ‘came across a child of God, walking along the road … trying to set his/her soul free …’ and she instinctively understood that all the youth of that generation, were trying ‘… to get back to the garden.’ And it is my sincere hope that that child finally found their reason for being, in the eternal ‘garden’ of the soul, as I did.
There is so much to be grateful for in this day and age. Science and technology have made astronomical strides. There is also the imaginative side of human nature where we are buoyed by all that is intangible from the great myths of the past to our more recent superheroes and so much more. But a lot of this masks what is really going on and, when our spiritual eyes are opened, we understand why Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 6:10-20 to stand firm in Christ and be equipped with all the spiritual armour we need.
Recognizing who was important in the creation of your submissions.
While working on this sculpture I thought a lot about all the brave astronauts that made the first moon landing possible and tried to imagine what Neil Armstrong must have felt like being the first to walk on the moon.
Also, my father, older brother and I had our ears glued to the radio during the moon landing (there was no TV in South Africa in those days) – it was all just so unbelievable! My father died 3 months after the moon landing and in a way this sculpture is dedicated to his memory. My father died the day before his 53 birthday and, now, 53 years after his death, I will never forget the aura of peace that came over him when, just before his death, he accepted Christ as his Lord and saviour. And it was that ‘giant leap’ of faith that my dad took that eventually caused me to follow suit.
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