Framing the Story


The most difficult things as an artist was working on a project before it took shape. The framing of a house. The framing of a book. The most difficult thing was to remain excited over the project in the early stages. When all you had was a dream.

I think a lot about the story of Noah. Like how it was all coming along. God’s view of creation, that is. I thought of it this morning as I deleted my computer history. Did God simply want to delete a history, a lot like I could on a computer? Wanting to start again? Fresh.

What was God’s view of creation? Was it a lot like using the characters as in all those sequels in books and movies. The same character repeated over and over. Rabbitt Run, by Updike. Harry Potter. “Dirty Harry.” The Hardy Boys. “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Sequels in the Good Book. Abraham and then Isaac. Sacrifice. This bizarre idea, to sacrifice the future, a son.

And now in the ongoing sequel, there was this human named Jesus. There in the desert. Scripture is nothing but the history of how people who went before us learned how to pray. Jesus in the desert. Praying. For 40 days. Like this season of Lent. A lot like Moses, except it had been 40 years.

Those who tried to look at the sun…it cannot be sustained for long. Or so it seemed on a morning after a 9 inch snowfall, on a bright bright February morning in Minnesota. On in Florida with the invasion of all these snowbirds. Concentration on the sun was not possible. You had to look elsewhere. And so the minister in his quest for God. He/she had to gaze elsewhere and not at God.

Formed in God’s image and likeness: The most difficult things as an artist was working at the beginning of an idea without yet a form. The difficulty for this human was in the motivation to continue.

A man from Roseville, Minnesota had solicited thoughts of a painting on the wall, entitled “Christ in the Wildness,” which was painted in 1929, from those who spent a weekend at the Jesuit Retreat House in DeMontreville. In the painting, Jesus of Nazareth is in the desert, in the wildness, surrounded by his humanity and little else. In the middle of nowhere. The man from Roseville had contemplated the artwork, wondering what the artist was trying to depict.

My interpretation was that of this Messiah thinking, a lot about the story of Noah. Wanting to start again. Fresh. Thinking about how all of this creation had been coming along. From the perspective of God. With that hostile force from Rome, trying to keep order. Wondering what to do 30 years after that census. And thinking about God’s view of creation.

“Christ in the Wildness.” With Christ thinking as an author, like the writer of the plot of the Good News. And because he was human, it was not easy. He suffered like a hematologist in search of answers on how to resolve the threat of death, in the blood. Jesus of Nazareth, like you and me, with a divine nature and contemplating how to change humanity. In the days when he was making a career change, from that of a carpenter, where he had been creating things out of wood. His career change to what had always been in this desert that of a prophet.

Christ, in the wildness, where he found himself in need of food. In need of drink. Alone. In prayer. And wondering of the answers to the questions. The same questions addressed everyday in the stories of the morning news: With whom? Where? When? How? Formulating a plan with help from above to explain the reasons why. Focused on the Truth, with his Jewish background.

Like the morning news. Just like any writer tried to focus on. Tying everything together. For all people who daily had a need for food, for drink. Each day.

There in the desert. Jesus. A lot like me. The most difficult things as an artist was working on a project before it took shape. Struggling like most young people, to tie everything that they had come to know together.


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