Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November 29th, 2022


John 6:16-21: Walking on Water

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Disciples See Christ Walking on the Water

Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Disciples See Christ Walking on the Water

I am thinking of a painting by Henry Tanner in which the waters are calm, one of the apostles stands toward the front of the boat, and Jesus approaches from the left.

The image is ethereal, with wisping stokes that evoke the spiritual experience these men are having. They have witnessed the miraculous multiplication of bread yet do not see. They will hear the explication of this miracle but will not fully understand. They are fishing alone when the storm rises and they fear for their lives. Then they see Jesus walking toward them.

It is I. Do not be afraid.

Life has a way of pulling us into a vortex of activity without suggesting to us that we ought to reflect on our actions. Storms rise suddenly, our little fishing boats are swamped, and a figure fluoresces just outside the periphery of our vision. We turn to focus on it but we cannot see anything which we can readily identify so we go back to bailing. I am wondering what might happen if we calm our fears and linger a bit with that fluorescence. Would it come into a crisp image that might register on the retina long enough for us to believe?

It is I. Do not be afraid.

Life has a way of making us feel as though everything is urgent, must be done by Friday, Monday, Tuesday. Deadlines loom, our agenda overflows yet something beckons just off behind our shoulder. We pause to listen to the faint humming, to wonder what it might be. We hear nothing that the ear recognizes, and so we go back to phone calls, emails and other messages that pile up on the desk.

It is I. Do not be afraid.

We are afraid that the work will not be done, that the children will not be fed, that the gift will not be bought, the laundry not washed and dried, the household tasks not completed. We have an idea that time is linear, finite and within our control.

It is I. Do not be afraid.

Jesus knows no time. Jesus is. Jesus was. Jesus will be. In the midst of our bailing, our counting, our working we must pause to look and listen. We want to have ears that truly hear, eyes that truly see because . . .

It is I. Do not be afraid.


For more of Tanner’s work, visit: http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/tanner/tanner_main.html

Adapted from a reflection written on May 23, 2008.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henry_Ossawa_Tanner,_The_Disciples_See_Christ_Walking_on_the_Water,_c._1907.jpg

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: