Images of Lent

If you’ve stumbled across this blog, welcome!

It was put together daily in Lent 2016 so if you want to use it as a Lent devotion you should go right back to the beginning where it begins on Ash Wednesday and will take you through Lent with an image each day and a short meditation.

Some of the images are religious, some are not. They were all put together when I was on sabbatical in the spring of 2015 and many of the paintings were ones I found while wandering round art galleries in New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Some are old favourites. And if I was to do it all over again, I might choose another 40 paintings altogether.

Of course, you may just dip in and out of it, and that’s fine too. I’d love to hear your comments too.

Resurrection

julie-rodriguez-jones the-women-at-the-empty-tomb-he-lives-

Julia Rodriguez Jones, The Women at the Empty Tomb – He Lives

There was just the three of us

that morning.

It was cold and dark

the sun just rising.

We wondered how we’d roll away the stone

but that didn’t seem as important

as the job we had to do.

You see, we had the spices to anoint his poor body.

We clutched them close to us

inhaling their sweet scent.

 

But when we got there

the stone had gone!

How can this be?

The size of it!

How can it be gone?

 

So we walked right in

but he was gone.

I think we just stood there

frozen to the spot.

The cloths were there,

folded where he lay.

Where was he,

our beloved?

 

Don’t be afraid, said the angel.

Don’t be afraid.

He is risen!

The son is risen!

 

Go and tell everyone! Go!

 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Hurting

Kathe Kollwitz The Mothers

Kathe Kollwitz, The Mothers (1923) Museum of Modern Art, New York

‘Here might I stay and sing.

No story so divine.

Never was grief, dear King!

Never was love like thine.’

 

And so we cling together

on this darkest of days

sharing our grief, our fear

knowing we are alone

but have one another.

 

Bless the little children

protect them and keep them safe

let us be a human shield

for all the wee ones,

the innocent, the unworldly.

 

My sorrow, my heartache,

twists within me like a knife

taking my breath away

as they did to him.

 

This should never be

a child going before his mother.

Hold tight to these little ones

hold tight and never let them go

never let them know

such anguish as this.

 

A cry went up

and we held on to one another

sisters, mothers, aunts

sharing our pain

our hurting for him.

Crucifixion

Francisco_de_Zurbarán Agnus Dei

Francisco de Zurbaran, Agnus Dei (1639) Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando

‘He was lead as a sheep to the slaughter,

and like a lamb voiceless before his shearer,

so opened he not his mouth.’  (Acts 9:32)

 

Behold the Lamb of God!

Behold him who takes away the sin of the world.

 

He hangs on the cross

battered and bruised

bloody and beaten.

A man who suffers for me

feeling pain just as I do.

His is the greatest sacrifice of all.

Like a lamb to the slaughter.

 

We are all like sheep

who have got lost and gone astray.

We have all done our own thing

and not always for the best.

But he was good,

that Lamb of God.

And all our sins have been piled on him.

All our sins.

 

This is for me.

For me.

He died for me

so that my sins could be forgiven.

All of my sins.

All forgiven.

 

How can I ever repay him?

Servant

Dinah Roe Kendall Jesus washes Disciples Feet

Dinah Rose Kendall, Jesus washes Disciples’ Feet (1995-6)

Oy, out the way!

Let me have a look!

Is he… is he really washing Simon Peter’s feet?

Really?

Well I never!

This is getting way out of hand.

 

Mary! Quick, pull the blind down so nobody sees.

This is subversive stuff.

 

And is Peter just allowing him to do it?

Who does he think he is?

We were just about to sit down and eat

but he’s doing something the servants should be doing.

Not him, not our Lord.

So that we can be part of it?

What does that mean?

 

Do as I have done to you?

Really?

He wants us to do the same thing to others?

To wash feet?

Who does he think we are?

I didn’t sign up for this, you know.

Is this part of the deal?

Really?

 

Love one another, he says.

Just as I have loved you.

Oh my goodness, this is real.

This is really real.

A new commandment.

Accusation

Peter Howson,_Judas

Peter Howson, Judas (2002) South Ayrshire Council (Rozelle House Galleries)

Oh Judas, what did you do?

What were you thinking?

Where did it go so wrong?

Were you jealous?

Was money so important to you?

Do you really belong with those thugs over there

throwing rocks at the man on the cross?

 

Can you feel that kiss still lingering on your lips?

That kiss of betrayal.

 

Look up, dear Judas,

look up to the heavens

look up and feel the light of God

upon you.

Your guilt is exposed

your anguish is seen

and those words echo in your mind

“One of you will betray me.”

Betray me.

And you did what was asked.

Or did you get it wrong?

 

That light, dear Judas,

that light is your path to redemption

should you choose to walk it.

Can you believe in it, Judas?

Can you believe that forgiveness lies there?

Was it all part of a divine plan?

Were you the scapegoat, the fall guy?

Or was the devil in you, as they said?

The Tree

Petrus_christus,_madonna_dell'albero_secco

Petrus Christus, Madonna of the Dry Tree (1465) Thyssen-Bornemizza Museum

At his birth

the dry tree flourished.

As he grew

it thrived and blossomed

bringing new life

beneath its boughs.

 

The tree matured

strong and full of promise

reaching to the sky,

to the very heavens above.

 

But this tree of growth and promise

will be cut down in its prime

hacked and axed

to be a weapon of destruction.

 

For now it holds the memories

as it waits.

Holds in its arms

the birth of a baby

a boy in a carpenter’s workshop

a healer and a pilgrim

a dreamer and an activist

a questioner of law

a servant and a listener

and a lover of love.

A lover of love.

 

For now we wait.

We wait

daring to believe in his love.