I was staring at Louise McClary’s Christ Dies this morning in the current issue of Image Journal. It’s an acrylic on paper, almost cartoonish in appearance. Honestly, not the type of art I usually get caught up in (the essay attached to the section describing her style helped). But there’s a lot of red in this piece. A lot of blood. A lot of pain. A lot upon which to meditate.
And for the first time in my life I made sense of a dream almost two years old now.
The dream was vivid, and was the second in a set of disturbing visions. It was at the end of a set of chaotic dreams, none of which I remember, but as I literally ran out of them, I was confronted by a black landscape and an enormous cross. The cross was huge, heavy, violently real. My course of running would have taken me around it, but I couldn’t go around, and as I staggered back (I think I actually fell to the ground) I realized that the cross was drenched in blood. Soaked. Dripping. And I screamed.
I woke up that moment, screaming out loud, swearing in fear. It took forever to get back to sleep.
Periodically over the last two years, I’ve tried to discover a meaning to that dream. I’ve prayed for an answer. I’ve analyzed it psychologically and theologically to no avail. But this morning as I focused on the pain of the Christ depicted on that page, I think I finally understood. I had been trying to run around that cross in my dream, and I couldn’t. It was too large, too imposing. The only way to move on was to go through it. Which means accepting what it is. Getting soaked in that blood as I move through, as I go over. The only other option when confronted with that obstacle is to retreat the other direction, to move backward.
I think that’s a critical picture of this thing we call faith.
“…punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds” (Isaiah 53:5b, HCSB).
I’m not saying I’m doing a good job of moving through, but at least I’m consciously trying not to move backward any longer.