MAKE READY FOR THE CHRIST
WHOSE SMILE, LIKE LIGHTNING
SETS FREE THE SONG OF EVERLASTING
GLORY, THAT NOW SLEEPS IN YOUR
PAPER FLESH, LIKE DYNAMITE! GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS
In 1986 a small group of Episcopal women approached me to see if they could commission me to make a Risen Christ image for them to give as a gift to one of the women in their parish who was to be ordained a priest. I was doubtful I should be the one to make this image, I told them, because my notion of the Risen Christ had changed so much that I knew I could not do the same stereo typical images we had all grown up with. When they asked me what I would show if I were to do it. I replied:" I have no idea. It would have to be inclusive, cosmic and show a lot of radiance and light. " They all agreed, that they wanted me to do it. They knew it was the right fit. A long about holy week of that year, only a few weeks after the ordination, I knew it was time to "push this baby out." Not even knowing what it would look like, I went into my mental workshop, put a blank screen up in my mind's eye and said:" Ok, what do you want people to see when they look at it?" Instantly, I was shown a white disk of clay with a hint of a cruciform and a dancing, jubilant figure broken through, Just a silhouette of a hole. I said to the Muses: "But, the figure looks unfinished, what do I do about the figure?" A distinct voice so distinct I had to look around to see if someone were there in my studio with me, said: "Use a mirror!" So, in my mind's eye I put a mirror behind the disk and gasped! the hair stood up on my arms...I said: "You're kidding me...do you realize what people will see when they go to look at the Risen Christ image they will be seeing....." "That's Right, they will being seeing exactly what they should be seeing!" It was as if the heavens opened up and the Angels started applauding: "Well finally, somebody gets this!"
For the next 24 hours it was if I were in a trance making this piece. The final part of it came as I was crawling into bed feeling there was something else.... When it came to me, I threw on my clothes and raced to the studio for one last touch.
The quote from the illuminated translation: 2 cor. 3:18 "But we, with unveiled faces, reflecting as in a mirror the Glory of the Holy One, are being transformed into God's very Image, from Glory to Glory."
It came out very early Easter morning of that year and as I was putting the final touches on it so it could be finished on Easter, I looked up and saw the kiln that it had just come out of, which reminded me of the empty tomb,and my mind played the story of Mary Magdalene going to the tomb to anoint the body, now that the sabbath had ended. I followed her in the story to the garden where she sees and has that very important encounter with the Risen Christ. I was so distracted by his response. So cold I thought, to push her back and say: "Do not cling." When I ask him what that was all about, in the quiet of my remembering, fully expecting an answer, I got: "You see, if the woman,(he actually called her 'the woman') and if you cling to the idea that I'm the only one who will ever do this, it will be all for naught! Everyday of my life, my mother, who knew well who I was, held the Mirror of Magnificence to me and said: 'Look, my son, who you are and who you are becoming.' And when I fully understood what she meant, I knew my true mission: To be the mirror holder for you, so that you, too, could someday understand who you are and who you are becoming."
This was The most significant Easter I have ever experienced. This is why I can't get too involved in the old stories and tedious interpretations any more. I am, you are, we together, are the New Story unfolding. We are the Christ becoming moment by moment as we throw off the "little me stories" and really go for the Gold. It does not really matter what your religious belief system is because it is about the new possibilities for the human and for the cosmos. Finally, when even one of us humans "gets" who we really are and who we are becoming, It ain't never going to be the same! And that's the gospel truth!