The Same Ol’ Same Ol’
I am working on an icon of the crucifixion, the writing of which is one of my Lenten disciplines this year. I have had the people of Ukraine on my mind as I breathe into that eternal moment of pain, grief, anger, and inevitability that marks Jesus’ torture and awful death.
I brought the icon and my writing supplies to our weekly Contemplative Art gathering Friday. We meet in the church sanctuary, and during that time one of our musicians plays her violin and hand-held harp as her form of contemplation. Elaine, the harpist, also plays for Hospice patients in facilities around the area. She knows the solace of music in the midst of suffering. She plays into the pain of those dying. She plays as well into all the complex emotions of those watching, those having to say goodbye. Friday she played into Christ’s dying.
Yesterday Rosean and I had a Zoom chat with friends who live in Dublin. We learned that all the countries of the EU are taking in the Ukrainian refugees. The 3 million people likely to be displaced were portioned out among the countries participating in the EU according to the size of the country and its population. Ireland’s pledge is ultimately to take in 200,000 people. Two hundred thousand. And at the moment they already have 16,000.
In the story of Pilate’s hand-washing it’s easy to forget what a horrific, cruel dictator he was. We don’t remember that there were crosses bearing suffering and dying men all the time in Jerusalem. The thoroughfares were lined with them. It was a tangible demonstration of Pilate’s power and, by extension, of Rome’s oppression.
I fear for Ukrainians and Russians who are defying Putin. What sort of examples will he make of them? I wonder what rhetoric he will use to wash his hands.
Things like this are always happening. It’s no fun being human sometimes. The power-mad people step up and exercise their will. And what for? Whatever for? There’s no ultimate gain in it. We all die.
On Friday, as my line of paint followed Christ’s arm from nail holes to elbow and Elaine played the music that comforts the dying, I remembered the line from Isaiah that is part of today’s reading:
“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Christ in the midst of his suffering looks strangely serene. He himself is a portal to a whole new way of looking at things. It isn’t some glorious heaven full of adoring angels and sycophantic saints – which would be more of the same ol’ same ol’. It’s something else, a new reality, a new way of understanding. Maybe it’s more like the people of the EU than like the people of Putin. I’m not entirely sure.
I aim to sit as close as I can to the portal until I find myself falling through. Will you join me there? I am sure you are more than welcome.