Picturing the Christ
Many Native Americans have been converted to Christianity, but in doing so some find it difficult to retain their indigenous culture. My intent is to celebrate reconciliation between the Native Americans and those who brought the mystery of Christ here.While Navajo, I have the icon as a reminder of the significant impact spending time with Christians on the Seminole reservations in Florida had on my own spiritual journey when I was a college freshman. The other images of Jesus are also significant to me, such as the Christ of the Desert icon pictured here. It is a Syrian depiction of Jesus written by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. Syrian rockets shot from Lebanon flew over our heads in Northern Israel in 2000 to land in nearby Kyriat Shimona. The icon shows Christ as Syrian, fitting as there was long a Christian presence in that country, which preserved many great early writings of the church in Syriac. To me it represents love of enemy. I know that was not likely in the artist's mind when writing the icon, but the association with the bombs falling on Israel makes that connection for me, as I can recall the air raid sirens and the quite literal rocks red glare lighting up the night.
If I were to paint Jesus, I would want him to look pausibly like a Palestinian Jew of the first century. But when I think of painting the Christ, the risen Jesus present to all now through the power of the Holy Spirit, I find various cultural representations to be appropriate and helpful. For while Jesus was alive for his earthly ministry, if he was in Capernaum, he could not also be in Jerusalem. But now he can be and is present in all those places and cultures, speaking to and through the various cultures in which people come to know Him.
I am sometimes asked where one acquires such pictures. Three sources are: Trinity Stores, Bridge Building Images, and Jesus Mafa.
Victoria, Griffin and my Mom in my office. Pictures of Jesus are visible at center.