Last month I shared with you some reflections on one of my favorite paintings: Jackson Pollock’s Greyed Rainbow. What at first glance looks like a violent mess of black and white actually hides the colors of the rainbow. This particular painting has become incredibly meaningful to me as I make my way through this life, endeavoring to be faithful to my God because it speaks a truth about this life that is sometimes hard to admit.
Here is the connection then that I make to my God as I prayed through my reactions to this particular painting that compels me to visit it each time I am at the Art Institute: life is chaotic and barely in our control, even when we do everything right and there is no way to get through it without pain. That is the truth of it. Always. However, God sent Jesus. Not to make everything squeaky clean and miraculously make sense, but to assure us of his love. To be light to the world of darkness. To shine through the chaos and remind us that we are loved and never alone. It may seem like most of us have it together, that we don’t struggle: it is an easy image to project, but we know that we each carry our own darkness, our own struggle with us. God through Christ reminds us that he is present with us in those moments even if we can’t see the light in the midst of the darkness. There is the hope. The hope that we cling to: that there is light, always.
Paul reminds us in Romans that not a single one of us is worthy to be called righteous in front of God. Not a single one of us. Except for the actions of Jesus. It is through Jesus’ death and resurrection that we are brought into the love and hope and grace and mercy of God and finally able to be called righteous. Our faith in Jesus, a beautiful gift of God, grounds us and gives us peace. It also brings us into community with all the faithful. Together we make our way through this life. That is what is also so compelling about Greyed Rainbow. Not only does it speak the truth about the human condition and God’s response to it in our individual lives, but it speaks the truth of the body of Christ. We, together, as the baptized, loved and claimed children of God are then made a part of the story of God’s love in the world. We carry with us the light of the world, we shine this light so that the “God colors” of the world are seen. In the messy, gray, violent world we live in we are the voice of hope to those who have no hope. We are the embodiment of Christ, loving the unloved.
The body of Christ, the community of the faithful, is more than a group of people who worship together occasionally. It is the lost and lonely walking with the other lost and lonely remind each other that we are not either of those things because of the actions of Jesus. Together we weep with one another and celebrate with one another and grow with one another and pray with one another and study with one another and laugh and cry and play and rejoice and struggle and live. No one left alone, no one left unsure of their worth. It is a powerful thing we do together.
I’m not sure that all of this was what Jackson had in mind when he was slinging paint all over this particular canvas but that isn’t what art is about. It is about a coming together of the artist’s gift and the observer’s soul and mind to bring about emotion and greater understanding. Not all paintings will evoke such powerful emotions or understanding; there is one just around the corner from Greyed Rainbow that I am boggled by and consider quite silly, but that is a reaction too, isn’t it? However, art offers to us another way to encounter God and to encounter ourselves in a way that we maybe hadn’t considered before. I would like to invite you once again to explore a piece of art that evokes a response for you (you don’t have to like it at first) and sit with it for a while, consider why you are having the response you are having and pray through it. See what you and God come up with and then share it with us so that we may grow too.
Blessings on your journey.