Along THE WAY
By Tom Wachunas
“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” - Jesus, from John 12: 31-32
EXHIBIT: Stations of The Cross: Visual and Written Reflections on Christ’s Final Week – 13 writers, 14 visual artists – Organized by Translations (mobile) Art Gallery, presented at Cyrus Custom Framing & Art Gallery, 2645 Cleveland Avenue NW, Canton, Ohio, THROUGH MAY 29
Viewing hours: Mon.-Fri. 10a.m.ish to 6p.m./ Sat. 11a.m. to 3p.m. / closed first Saturday of the month
Participating writers: Tim Barlow, Judi Christy, Dave Dettmann, Gennae Falconer, Paula Guiler, Jenny Hardacre, Beverly Joseph, Joe McDonald, Christina Schnyders, Tony Schnyders, Melody Scott, Tom Wachunas, Harry Winters
Participating visual artists: Clare Murray Adams, Paul Berlanga, William Bogdan, Katherine Cox, Lynn Digby, Laura Donnelly, Ted Lawson, David McDowell, Micah Miller, Tina Myers, Pam Neff, Christopher Triner, Artie Vanderpool, Ashley Villers
At about 6:00 pm this past Friday evening, I cut my customary early rounds of First Friday gallery visits short, in mid-stride toward Journey Art Gallery, interestingly enough. This was not so much because of the forbidding weather as it was a persistent, inner prompting - a nagging voice to the point of distraction, really. A voice separate from mine, a voice I too often ignore in favor of seeking my own. Mea maxima culpa. “Come back to reality,” He kept saying, “you need to be thinking about something else now. Think about what you saw and felt an hour ago.”
Long story short, at around 4:30 pm I had been at Cyrus Gallery. What I experienced there stayed with me through every ensuing moment and footstep for the remainder of my evening, regardless of whatever else I was viewing farther downtown. I was indeed being drawn back to reality. To HIM. The uncanny irony of it all is that on this First Friday evening, this GOOD FIDAY, it was art that was calling me to not look at art. More precisely, the subject of the art in Stations of the Cross superseded the aesthetic forms through which it (HE, actually) was being expressed.
Yes, the words of the writers, provided for visitors in meditation booklets, are inspiring, personal, relevant, well-crafted. Read them as you take in the powerfully resonant images – some modern, some traditional. All remarkable in their way. That said, this is not to “review” the “show” in my normal manner, but simply to thank the participants, and Translations curator Craig Joseph, for giving honest form to their courageous, soulful visions. Visions meant for all of us to embrace.
For those of you who have yet to find true faith in the reality addressed in this exhibit, by all means please come to savor the art. Even after Easter. The message isn’t seasonal, it’s eternal. And it’s nevertheless my prayer that maybe, just maybe, it ceases to be only a temporal art experience for you and draws you to His persistent voice.
It’s the same voice that inspired my own contribution to the exhibit.
STATION SIX :: Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
Passage :: Luke 22: 63-65 / John 19: 2-3
Meditation :: It’s difficult to conceive a bloodier form of physical punishment than the ancient Roman scourge – a whip made of leather ropes knotted with metal barbs designed to rip away flesh with every strike. Giving harrowing new depth to “adding insult to injury,” the jeering soldiers relentlessly taunted Jesus. Irreversibly caught up in their frenzy of blinding bloodlust, they inflict a final indignity by wedging a crown of thorns on to his head. No doubt they were pleased to think it the ultimate mockery of his kingship, which they did not comprehend. “Father forgive them,” Jesus would pray from his cross three hours later, “for they know not what they do.”
To Reflect Upon :: The question is, do we know the true kingship of Jesus? Do we comprehend the indignity, insult, and unspeakable pain we inflict on ourselves and each other by denying or mocking his centrality in our lives? Consider: Who but God Incarnate, in an act of perfect redemptive love, could submit to the horrific physical and spiritual torment we read about in the Gospels without raising a resistant hand or uttering a withering curse? Oh, the divine irony of it! That curse had been declared millennia beforehand in Genesis 3, the crown of thorns already laid upon our heads. “Cursed is the ground because of you,” God said to Adam, “…It will produce thorns and thistles for you…” The consequence of Adam’s arrogance, pride and disobedience left the legacy of a severed relationship with God and in its wake a corrupted creation. A crown of thorns for all humankind, and the promise of death. It would have been our hopeless inheritance through eternity had it not been for God’s plan to have Jesus Christ take such a crown upon himself for our sakes. As Isaiah reminds us, Jesus was crowned with our iniquity that we might stand forgiven, free and righteous in his Father’s presence.
Prayer :: Oh my Lord, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, thank you for loving the world so much that you gave your son Jesus so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. Thank you for offering us the crown of eternal life in him. Grant us the daily courage and faith to accept it with humility, and the willingness to submit to your plans for us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
What Next? :: Please continue praying for this thorny, arrogant world to cease mocking the amazing grace and love of Jesus. Pray that we honor and glorify his kingship by surrendering our self-seeking desires, priorities and motivations to him. Savor God’s plan for every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that Jesus is Lord. It’s a matter of life or death.
PHOTOS (from top – click on pictures for enlarged slideshow): Station One – Jesus on the Mount of Olives, by Lynn Digby; Station Seven – Jesus Takes Up His Cross, by Micah Miller; Station Eight – Simon the Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross, by William Bogdan; Station Nine – Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem, by Clare Murray Adams; Station Ten – Jesus is Crucified, by Pam Neff