|(Photo: Ceri Leeder, with permission)|
We have lived in the same house in the same suburb of the same city, for a long time. Before that, we lived in a different house, a mile or so north of this one, and before that ... well we have lived in this place a very long time. This means, of course, we've made, and sometimes lost, a lot of friends here.
And that makes a walk, say to the local shops, a possibly nostalgic, even poignant, event. The house where that family lived who went back to New Zealand after 16 years ... The big house where the family lived who travelled, in a van, taking their kids with them, to Eastern Europe before the USSR broke up, and to Vietnam, and Thailand, before everybody did. We were all at the same church ... The surgery where I joined the list of the new young doctor when I was young. He looked after my growing family for years - now he’s retired, gone ... And many others. The supermarket and Costa Coffee have replaced the family-owned bakery, butcher’s and greengrocer’s. Ghosts inhabit the roads, hiding in bright sunlight.
Today is called ‘Low Sunday’ for good reason. After running all those Holy Week and Easter services, what ministers and priests would not be exhausted? After the discipline of Lent, the emotional surges Palm Sunday, the solemnity of Maundy Thursday, after Good Friday, and then the excitement of Easter, why would we not all be?
And after that joyful, noisy entry into Jerusalem, followed by the daily arguments at and around the Temple, the extraordinary, slightly mysterious, Passover meal, the awful betrayal, the trumped-up trial, and the crucifixion ... after the amazing, wonderful, Resurrection ... wouldn't the disciples have hit a low? Like “what happens, and what happens to us, now?”
They are left with a Master who isn’t there, a focus which though possible if he was there, seems too full of questions.
So, he’s not there as his old self - and how does his new self exactly turn up? Often when we have lost someone, through a death or a break-up or merely a move away, we think we see them ... but it is a stranger. Nostalgia, poignancy, loss... even if the truth is in our minds. Might that be Jesus be coming around the corner as they walk along the street? Might he suddenly be among them, as they gather in the Upper Room? Breaking bread?
Look again at both the pictures.
(The second in colour and inside the church). What do you see?
|(Photo Ceri Leeder with permission)|
Conceptual Art is about concepts: there may be several ideas, combined, and no ‘right answer’. Here I see three things:
I see the cloths like the sails of a boat. Especially in the first picture. Remember ‘I Saw Three Ships’, the Christmas carol?
I see the cloths (especially in the painted version) like plastic bags, rejected by fly tippers and caught in the bare branches of winter trees. ‘Despised, rejected...’
I see the cloths as shrouds, wrapped in them the three victims of the crucifixions on that day when the sky turned dark at noon. ‘Simon Peter ... entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there... and the kerchief used to cover his head ... neatly folded by itself.’
The piece is designed to capture the horror, pain and suffering of Good Friday ... it makes us feel its atmosphere, spare, dim, chilly and grey. From which we now move, pass Low Sunday and towards the coming of the winds of heaven, the Holy Spirit, which will drive all nostalgia and poignancy away. And empower the Disciples to move on, spreading the Word as they go, throughout the world.
Happy Easter living!
(With thanks to my friend Ceri for the pictures of her installation which inspired this piece)
Clare Weiner writes fiction as Mari Howard (currently working on the 3rd in the Mullins Family Saga, Love You to the Moon) and blogs on her interests and inspirations as here as Mari Howard Author.
Anyone who is in the area of South Gloucestershire or nearby on
April 23rd 2016 is invited along to here her (and many others!) read from their work at the Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival. A free festival in a Cotswold Village. Open 10.0am - 5.30pm Fiction, Poetry, Children's section. Panel discussions & readings, bookstall.