Wednesday, March 25, 2015
By Micky Wolf
[The Agony of the Garden | Orazio Borgianni 1574-1616]
He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat
became like drops of blood falling on the ground.
For Christians, there is no less a season of import and meaning than that of Lent and Holy Week, culminating in the unfolding events of Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection.
Over the centuries, many artists have attempted to paint the Agony of the Garden. It has been said Orazio Borgianni had a temper which could rear its head from time to time in a most undesirable manner. One could wonder if that anger is reflected, in a more loving way, in his rendering of Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane.
We could have been spared the details of what transpired; the unspeakable anguish preceding the ultimate sacrifice—the blood, sweat, and tears, expelled in the agony of the darkest moments of the Gethsemane experience. And yet, the inspired writers of Scripture knew otherwise.
You, me—if we hope to experience resurrection, transformation of our broken and wounded nature into one more reflective of the God who has breathed us into being—we, too, must pass through the awful, yet beautiful agony that opens our hearts to the depth of our need for restoration and wholeness.
…the agony that reveals darkness within, but not apart from greater light
…the agony that reveals depravity, but not apart from greater compassion
…the agony that reveals selfishness, but not apart from greater grace
…the agony that reveals absence of love, but not apart from greater goodness
…the agony that reveals the abyss of aloneness, but not apart from greater intimacy
Maybe one of the most important considerations arising from Orazio’s interpretation of this event is that his emotion colors his work with an unmistakable reality of truth.
Maybe that is the hope for each of us. That we are called to be vulnerable, authentic, open, and honest.
To live a life of faith, hope, and love, that would otherwise be unrealized if we fear entering the agony, unbelieving that we will be gifted with discovering the beauty that can only be found in the darkest moments of encountering our flaws, failures, and human suffering—others and our own.
Will you enter the Garden with the One who has gone before?
How do you feel in the darkness?
Will you allow Love to enter and illuminate your heart?
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
By Micky Wolf
After reading the third article within a couple days that talked about the importance of being “our unique self”, I knew the Divine was hoping to get my attention. And here’s the kicker: each author was coming from a different perspective and genre. It wasn’t as if I had parked myself in the midst of a community of people whose only goal was to focus on this topic.
Which leads me to the photograph above: all the items have one thing in common—they belong to the onion family.
You, me? We belong to the human family. Some of us are round and stout. Some are long and skinny. Some are round, long and stout. Some pack a punch to the nose, others, a subtle and sublime hint of mellow fragrance.
Regardless of the combination or singularity of our features—on the inside or the outside—each of us has a special and unique flavor and texture that contributes mightily to the tasty and satisfying experiences that make up the whole of our shared journey.
Why, then, do we resist being our authentic self?
Most of us are more comfortable blending in. We’re hesitant to be who we really believe God has created us to be—in personality, gifts, and calling—because we fear doing so will make us vulnerable at best, misunderstood or disliked at worst.
How many times do we find ourselves in a mess because of our choice of words? The timbre of our voice? The nuances of our body our language? What we said, or left unsaid?
If we are being the unique person God has created us to be, we need to embrace the Divine truth that we have not been designed to look, sound, think, feel, or behave like carbon copies of one another. Seems like a no-brainer—until we realize how often we expend our energies trying to well, blend in—to not make choices or take action in a way that will set us apart from the group.
It’s been my experience in listening to many people over the years that what we’re really hoping to do is minimize or conceal those things about ourselves we consider ugly or distasteful—read, unlovable. As if that isn’t enough, we use some kind of measuring stick or comparison example to justify our actions.
When it comes down to it, most of us have a mostly subjective view about ourselves. At the same time, family and friends may not be of much help either when it comes to objectivity. Who really wants to stir the water, or add fuel to a fire (perceived or real) only to make everyone (especially self) more uncomfortable?
What then, are we to do?
Go. To. God.
How does that work? Glad you asked.
Two insights immediately come to the fore:
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. (Psalm 139:13-14)
For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
None of this means we abdicate responsibility for loving God, others, and self.
What it really means is beginning to believe that what is unique about each of us adds beauty, flavor, and substance to the growing and nurturing of the Kingdom of God while we’re here on earth.
So, go! BE you. We need what you bring to the table. (Note to self as well.)
Are there things about me that I consider ugly? Why?
How do I feel about trusting the Divine who created me?
Do I spend more time worrying about blending in than living the one life God has given me?