Sunday, March 23, 2008

Stations of the Cross

We’re all busy, but for Holy Week we would want somehow to capture and receive in an immediate way the (un)dying presence of Christ for us in the things and faces nearest and most familiar to us.

One: The Last Supper

After giving thanks He broke it and said, ‘This is my body…’ (I Corinthians 11:24).

Not to be profane, but there’s something carnal about the Last Supper. Aubrey has said several times this week that the Last Supper is also the first because it’s our first station. And I like about this picture the way it captures the real togetherness of four close friends. Not as leaning toward the camera, or marking the moment (except after the fact), but together out of custom and out of practice. Something done for a reason. A convergence of four intentionalities that only become meaningful when captured by a camera.

Two: The Agony in the Garden

Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto his sorrow! (Lamentations 1:12).

Taking pictures of the boys this afternoon I was struck by how much easier it is to shoot younger children. I suppose it is that as we get older we become more self-aware. Situations turn into poses, and emotions turn into projections. The grief of a young child—Auden’s here, the frustration of a toy that won’t do what he wants it to do—is absolute.

Three: Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

One of the character- istics of a situation of judgment is that something vital, something for-it’s-own-reason, is taken apart and examined against external criteria. For the termites who developed this as living space, to see it opened and explored is to destroy what it was. Even the beauty of it is a violation of what it was meant to be. To adjudge it as dead and worthless is as much a category mistake as it is an error in judgment.

Four: The Scourging and Crowning with Thorns

Parents feel things in a way they didn’t before life became doubly precious. The juxtaposition of something angular and unbending with the softness of human skin is a perception almost too visceral to sustain action and good sense. You see a roof-top or a ladder that used to look like fun, but now it is an almost paralyzing terror.

Five: Jesus Receives his Cross

There’s a profound delicacy in the liturgy here. Jesus ‘receiving’ his cross suggests an gentle acceptance in a scene of vulgar force. In a scrap for life, the flower lifts itself on the pole, which, of itself, gracefully lifts the tender plant into the sun. It’s the basic dissonance between a brutal weight and a powerful grace that makes this scene.

Six: Jesus Falls Under the Weight of the Cross and, Seven: Simon of Cyrene Carries the Cross for Jesus

These moments are always simult- aneous in nature: something falls, something entirely new springs to life.

Eight: Jesus Meets the Pious Women of Jerusalem

I was raised in a critical distance from popular piety. But there’s something striking about the life of Christ in relationship to our feeble efforts. At the baptism, he submits himself to our pious rituals. Here in his death, he meets us where we are at. Our efforts, vacuous and unavailing, are filled with the grace of his attention.

Nine: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Like duct-taping a bouquet to the wall, could there be a greater violence than nailing a sacrifice to the wood?

Ten: The Repentant Thief

A should- have-been- prefatory remark here toward the end: the purpose of this exercise is devotional, not illustrative. It’s not that we set out to find instances of salvation history, but that we set ourselves the task of seeing Christ’s self-giving in our surroundings. Auden’s sheer posture here reminds us, if we’re looking for it, of the way crucifixions will have regarded one another from their crosses. We don’t know, but might it not have been physical posturing that inclined the thief to repentance?

Eleven: Mary and John at the Foot of the Cross

If it is that Jesus’ dying attention was on mundane issues of social concern, how much more captivating will the physical condition of a dear one’s feet have been from the foot of the cross?

Twelve: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Deborah took this picture of charred ashes, which illustrates so well the utter lifelessness of what remained after the death on the cross.

Thirteen: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

I like to think of Revelation 3:20 as telling the story of the resurrect- ion from the inside of the tomb: ‘ Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.’ In the same way, every commodity has a dual history; there’s the story of the doors they open for us, and the story of the doors that stay closed because of them. This year, two families on our street are digging tomb-like garages into the side of the hill their houses are built on, presumably for cars they didn’t have before. A garage keeps a car safe, but something more happens when we entrust our belongings into God’s safekeeping—they are transformed into blessings for us and for others.

Fourteen: Jesus Rises from Death

Nothing— besides, perhaps, Aaron’s rod that mirac- ulously budded— prepares the North American for what happens when you put a hacked-off stick in the mud over here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This picture screams: inter- national adoption is a great option.
For people who aren't sure they could ever bond as deeply with an adopted child as they would with their own.
For people who worry that children will never be at home in a foreign country the way they would be where they were born and with people of the same skin color.

Arnstein says, 'As a teacher in Norway, I work with many families -- and we all have the same problems. Children need to be cared for in a family, so that when you tell them "no" as a teenager, it is the same person who told them "the stove is hot" when they were little.'

Aud Berit said it was even difficult to come to terms with having a birth-child when Daniel was born after adopting three from the little children's home. 'I kept thinking, we should be going to the Philippines to pick up our child.'
Jonas (17 and 1/2, he tells you firmly), Jostein (16), and Maria (12) are here for their first return-visit to the Philippines after they were adopted as babies. They are soaking up the images, climate, friendliness, and flavors of the place where they were born. But they are so thoroughly Norwegian, so thoroughly family--I just can't help sharing with you our joy in what God has done.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Aubrey has a riddle for you: It's the front of a walrus and the back of a cow.

Aubrey says the answer is a letter, not a body part or an animal.

The answer is "W."