Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pondering: To Become Named

This painting hangs in my living room. I don't know the artist, 
thought I wish I did. 
Sometimes the light shines, diamond-shaped, through window 
onto the canvas like a ray of sun on a valley of sunflowers.
To stand before it opens and lifts my heart, calls me to the distant horizon 
even while I am filled with present beauty. 

from Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle

Stories, no matter how simple, can be vehicles of truth; can be, in fact, icons. It's no coincidence that Jesus taught almost entirely by telling stories, simple stories dealing with the stuff of life familiar to the Jews of his day. Stories are able to help us become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos we see despite all the chaos...and all great works of art are icons of Naming. 

When we look at a painting, or hear a symphony, or read a book, and we feel more Named, then for us that work is a work of Christian art. But to look at a work of art and then to make a judgment as to whether or not it is art, and whether or not it is Christian, is presumptuous...We cannot know in any conclusive way. We can know only if it speaks within our own hearts, and leads us to living more deeply with Christ in God. 

...There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and this is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation. 

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