Cemeteries are often places of calm and meditation. While taking walks through cemeteries, I have discovered a few graves marked with the statue of an angel instead of the traditional statue of a cross. At one grave in particular, the face of the angel appeared so exquisitely sorrowful as it stood over the grave it was chosen to mark that it made me wonder what sort of suffering the deceased individual had endured in his lifetime. Even before reading the dates on the tombstone, I could tell that the statue had weathered many seasons from the deep stains on its face from years of rain and melted snow, which made the angel appear as if it were weeping. The grief on the angel’s face seemed to convey a similar sorrow that the statues of a cross on the other tombstones evoked. What must it have been like for the universe to grieve the death of the Son of God? What does it look like and how does it feel when we endure our own crosses? In this piece, pain, suffering, and death do not have the last word. The extremely thin application of paint serves the dual purpose of first of all letting the white of the canvas show through, a symbol of the light of Christ, and secondly mimicking the effect of rain dripping down a statue, a reminder that we are washed clean with the blood of the Lamb. The white canvas cannot be seen underneath the layers of paint, but it is there, shining through the cooler hues near the base of the painting and giving the colors a vibrancy that they do not possess on their own. The deep blues give way to warmer teals, greens, and yellows near the top of the painting as the cleansing rain washes over the face of the statue. The thin consistency of the paint—achieved by using much more turpentine than oil paint— allows the colors to drip down the surface of the canvas, resembling the effect of melted snow and rain dripping down stone. So too the power of the cross washes away the sharp sting of our sins, turning them white as snow and making us clean. As it says in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, crying or pain.” In a way, our personal crosses are a promise that one day we will know joy and peace when we are washed clean and shining with the light of Christ forever in heaven.
Bible Study; Lecture; Sermon Prep
Laity; Ministers; Scholars
4’ x 5’, oil painting on canvas, adelaidecole.com