Drawings from the Doorway: "Power of Jesus"

Here is this week's drawing by our late friend Zane Lang, accompanied by a reflection by our friend Mary Abma. We are nearing the end of the reflections that Mary wrote as she stopped after Zane passed away. There are still more drawings, however, and we will continue to post these each week for your enjoyment. We encourage you to take time to reflect on them yourselves. The entire series can be found at http://paideiacentre.ca/drawings-from-the-doorway.

Dear Zane,

Today, I will talk about “Power of Jesus”. I thought this would be a short letter but as is so often the case, there is more to this drawing than meets the eye.

I like your depiction of Jesus in your various drawings. He looks so humble and gentle. We know he is Jesus because he carries the shepherd’s staff and the key. On his head, the brim of his hat is the crown of thorns. The buttons on his coat are arranged in threes. The badges on his coat are triangles. Even though we have all of these indications that this man is Jesus, God incarnate, he looks so ordinary that if we were not paying attention to the details, we might miss him.

The setting of your drawing makes us pay attention.

Jesus is in the foreground. He is standing beside one of his sheep. Behind him, a fire burns, lightning is striking the ground and rain is coming down in torrents. People are huddling under umbrellas, running, and trying to finish their work quickly, before the storm ruins their efforts.

Jesus looks calm despite all that is going on behind him. In fact, Jesus is not even looking at the action. He is addressing the viewer of the drawing. He is looking straight at us. The sheep, on the other hand, is not quite as certain of its own place in the scene.; it is facing the flames. Both Jesus and the sheep are dry. The storm is not touching them; the wall of fire separates them from the rain.

When I have considered this drawing before, I have thought that the “power of Jesus” was symbolized by the flames. They are coloured red, which sets them apart from the rest of the drawing. This gives them significance. They also sweep across the entire picture plane, cutting a swath between the foreground and the background. And certainly, you are symbolizing the power of Jesus as fire. As we have discussed so many times before, fire is cleansing, purifying. We are baptized by fire. Fire is transformative. Forest fires are sometimes necessary to encourage new growth. 

Your depiction of the power of Jesus does not end with fire, however. You have also depicted storms. This shows power over the natural world. As with fire, which has the power to destroy but also to build up and stimulate new birth, a storm has a similar duality. The lightning is dangerous to the people who are out in the open, but at the same time, lightning nourishes the soil. The rain might ruin a farmer’s efforts to bring in the hay, but the water is necessary to the fertility of the land. The people, who are small in your drawing, are only focusing on the here and now. They see only the immediate danger of the storm. They do not see the bigger picture. The same is true of the lamb, who is looking warily at the flames.

In order to focus on the larger context, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus. You make that clear by placing him where we cannot miss him. He catches our eye and gently compels us to look at him. “Do not fear,” he is saying. This peace which passes understanding is also the power of Jesus. For it is not about death and destruction; it is about nourishment, transformation, and resurrection. It is about life.

God of Peace, relax the tensions of our bodies.....
Still the anxieties of our minds.....

Calm the storms of our hearts.....
Give us courage to wait.....
Let peace flow in us, through us, from us,
the deep, deep, peace of God.  Amen.

Adapted from Adam, David, “Celtic Prayers”, (Tim Tiley Ltd., Bristol, 2006).


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