You stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that all might come within the reach of your saving embrace.
So clothe us in your Spirit that we reaching forth our hands in love may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you, for the honor of your name. AMEN
This is one of my favorite prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. The image of the cross as Jesus reaching forth his hands in love, and our response to that reach as reaching out in love, is the center of my understanding of the cross as a symbol of my faith.
The cross is Love reaching out.
Love reaching out in the midst of suffering and when surrounded by anger and hate.
Love reaching out in the midst of hunger and thirst.
Love reaching out in the midst of fear and loneliness.
Love reaching out in the midst of meals shared.
Love reaching out in the midst of friends and strangers and enemies.
Last evening I went to an art exhibition at the Harwood Museum in Taos of Dean Pulver’s work. Dean is the husband of my dear friend Abby Salsbury whose pottery fills my home. Dean’s art medium is primarily wood with a little metal thrown in on occasion.
When I visited Dean’s studio last Epiphany, he was creating work that was part of the exhibit at the Harwood. There was one piece in process that placed me in a deep pause. To me it looked like a cross.
As Dean and I talked, he told me that building a cross had not been his intent. This led to a thought-filled conversation about the layers of personal meanings of the cross. I told him how I felt so often what I hear people say about the cross feels more like a useful personal weapon than the endless and forgiving and healing love of God.
The curved arms of Dean’s art with its ever moving shadows, depending on the cast of the light, spoke to me of God’s multidimensional love. It is beautiful.
The finished art was on exhibit at the Harwood. Once again I was paused. My heart and eyes filling with emotion of its power.
Dean had named the piece Reach.
The light once again played with the structure casting multidimensional shadows expanding the range of the cross.
Each arm is a curve, openly pulling us to its center. It feels like a safe and open enclosure I could nestle in and be held and rest. It’s not soft but it looks comfortable–in the root meaning of the word, comfort, that means with strength. I could sink into its heart.
I looked back on Dean’s Instagram account. It records his process for creating the art we saw completed at the Harwood. I was paused yet again when I saw the special joinery he had to create to connect the two arms of this piece.
Cross upon cross. Cross within cross.
Reaching out in love.
Note: Cross at the top of the blog from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Kilgore, Texas.