Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Touching Jesus' Face: Gethsemane

The middle of March and I’m driving with my windows open down country roads. I found a song that made me drive past the turn to my house. One of those songs that gives words to a mysterious pain. One of those songs you yell out your windows to the empty fields at twilight. Or at least, I do.

Repeat, repeat, until my heart broke open. I sang that song like I was singing it to the one who had broken my heart. I sang it and I imagined me saying those words, breaking the silence with those words, finally telling, with those words, all that had bled and could not stop bleeding. And then, though I was not praying, I prayed: God, will they ever know what they’ve done? Will they ever feel this as I’m feeling it, right now in the middle of March, singing to the cornfields?

This is how he answered.

The task was to make signs for the Stations of the Cross for a Good Friday service. I had some ideas to go on, so I started on the usual path: copy, paste, choose a font, print it out.I didn't like how it looked, so I drove to Dairy Queen, drove back, and ate a Blizzard in the parking lot. With an idea, I grabbed a basket of chalk pastels and an overhead projector out of my backseat (never telling what you can find in my backseat), walked in, and I drew Jesus’ face in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I outlined his cheek bones. Slid charcoal across his jaw line. His lips. His wet eyes. I ran my hand down his nose. Touched each crease under his eyes, in his brow where the thorns would lay. And as I touched his face, I touched his face. I could hardly breathe. This is my Jesus. And then I felt him answer my question, though he didn’t answer it at all— didn’t tell me if anyone would ever know my pain or not. Instead, he asked me, in the quiet of my heart, if I would feel his. Would I imagine it with him: that night in the Garden, sweating blood, taking the cup, receiving the kiss? Oh, Jesus, my friend! My love! What was it like? I never thought to ask.

“I heard you in the cornfields,” he pressed it into my heart.

Who is this God? This Jesus! This God who knows all and sees everything and not only hears the sound of my heart break, but invites me to hear his! His sweet heart: shattered, lonely, betrayed, and full of love, mercy, hope. That’s what I found there, when I looked. I knew him new: our God who knows and desires to be known.