This is the last drawing by our friend Zane about which Mary wrote a refelction. She wrote this piece the day that Zane died and passed through the doorway to life everlasting. Zane never saw this reflection, but we know that he is, indeed, surrounded by God's loving presence as Mary wrote at the end of this reflection.
Today, I will begin to talk about your little series about Paul. The first drawing shows Paul, newly arrived in Athens. He is dressed extremely humbly. He wears a fur and boots. His head is bald. He carries a walking stick with a rubber tip.
Paul is looking around in puzzlement. Worship is going on everywhere around him. This is actually notable to Paul. It seems to him that this is a sign that the people of Athens might be receptive to the truth that he has to bring them:
“People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” Acts 17: 22b-23
So Paul is giving the people an “out”. He is saying, “You are worshiping the unknown god but you don’t know who he is. Let me fill you in.”
You show the altar to the unknown god in your drawing but no one is looking at it. No one is bowing down to it. The people of Athens are aware of the existence of God, but they choose to worship the idols that are familiar to them. And this is not surprising. The altar to the unknown god is plain and unadorned. It has been erected, but not fashioned. It is solid and stable but compared to everything around it, it looks unremarkable. Even the man closest to it turns away to worship what looks like a jester.
The thing about the other gods in Athens is that they are manmade. This is why they are fancy and attractive, made of marble and gold. Paul speaks to this. He says:
Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. (verse 29)
This line tells us that God is much greater than what we can imagine him to be and that he is great beyond any idol that we could fashion on earth. It also tells us something important about us. We are God’s offspring; we are his children. To be a child is to carry the DNA of our parents within us. They didn’t know about DNA in Paul’s day, but they did know about kinship. Paul was saying that we have a natural kinship with God. We bear his image. His breath is within us. So as God’s children, we are not only loved by God as his own, but in kinship with him, we must come to know God as we know ourselves. And as children, we must love God as unconditionally as he loves us.
Somehow, we seem to remain as stuck in the role of the rebellious teenager as we were back in Athens. We are attracted by what is shiny and new, by what is able to distract us away from what is most important in life. Yet, deep down, the seed of faith is planted and we are still loved.
I will close with a prayer from Taizé:
you take upon yourself all our burdens
so that freed of all that weighs us down,
we can constantly begin anew to walk with lightened step,
from worry towards trusting,
from the shadows towards the clear flowing water,
from our own will towards the vision of the coming Kingdom.
And then we know,
though we had hardly dared hope it,
that you offer to make every human being
a reflection of your face.
Zane, may you feel surrounded by God’s loving presence,
The entire series can be found at http://paideiacentre.ca/drawings-from-the-doorway.