Friday, April 2, 2010

The Wilderness Wanderings

The Wilderness Wanderings - The Art of Thomas Cole

(Manhood, Thomas Cole)

What a painting to hold here on Good Friday, it is the very image of Gethsemane, this is where the river flows, into the cave again, into the outer darkness, there is nothing living here except the temptation of the river, stil raging in unfulfillment, still the vision of the serpent but no longer docile, now it moves like the dragon, it breaths into man fire and damnation, and where is the grand Vision of the City? It is here truly revealed, there is no City and there never was, the city was the hope of fulfillment, the river's lie, and what is the river but time, and what is time but the great deceiver, and here now we are with the man, his realization is ours, he is broken by the breaking of the lie and lifts up his hands in prayer, not to the City, but to the darkness overhead. If only he could see the celestial light that loves him still, the light he should never have left in the garden, his back is turned but his heart is not, in his humble prayer he holds the light, becoming the very image of the light, how can such tremendous light fill such a darkness? And this is his prayer:

O my chief good,
How shall I measure out thy blood?
How shall I count what thee befell,
And each grief tell?

Shall I thy woes
Number according to thy foes?
Or, since one star show'd thy first breath,
Shall all thy death?

Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumn, score a grief?
Or cannot leaves, but fruit be sign
Of the true vine?

Then let each hour
Of my whole life one grief devour:
That thy distress through all may run,
And be my sun.

Or rather let
My several sins their sorrows get;
That as each beast his cure doth know,
Each sin may so.

Since blood is fittest, Lord to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloody fight;
My heart hath store, write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sin:

That when sin spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes
All come to lodge there, sin may say,
'No room for me', and fly away.

Sin being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sin take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.

(Good Friday, George Herbert)


Good Friday is the day where all our ghosts are summoned like the dead commander of Don Giovanni, they gain real substance like the bread and the wine of which we partake, the ghost stands behind us condemning us, it is where the deception of time is stripped away and we become one for just a moment, the deception is removed and we are condemned, not human, but the fractured image of man, not fully ape, not fully animal, not fully anything, and it is at this moment where Christ appears, God, the Son of God, he assumes the form of the Lamb, the one sacrifice, light and dark, we are made human in his Humanity, drawn into God by his Godhood. Time is an illusion, "in my end is my beginning", in truth we forever in Christ, the rock and the river, that flowed against the river, towards Eden again. "Sometimes the road leads through dark places, sometimes the darkness was our friend":

(Pacing the Cage, Bruce Cockburn)

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