A supplement to the last blog. I said the previous blog (no.60 on 18th Aug) would be my last for some time, but after reflecting about what happened last Sunday, when I was writing the blog, I thought it would be appropriate to make a few comments. The more I think about what happened, the more amazed I become. My good friend Scott Murray who sent me the photos for the blog commented ‘today synchronicity was taken to another level.’ Well, here is the story of what happened and the lead-up to it and my interpretation of what it means.

More photos please
Scott, who lives near Stirling, had, at my request, been sending me flower photos for my blog for some months. On the 16th Aug. he asked me if I needed more. I replied as follows:

“Yes, more photos would be appreciated, although I’ll be putting the blog on hold for a while. I’ll be getting back to it before too long I hope. These close-up photos you take of natural objects are great, not necessarily flowers.” (email sent on 16th Aug)

By the “close-up photos of natural objects” I was referring to close-up photos of plants that he had shown on FB.

Rope tied to the wreck of the Boy David, Vatersay

The ropes could symbolize the bondage of the Jewish people. There is also the cross, so also the suffering of Christ.

Big surprise

On the morning of the 16th I started writing blog 60. The theme was the painting ‘White Crucifixion’ by Marc Chagall which deals with the subject of the Holocaust and the persecution of the Jews in Europe and which has an image of the crucified Christ at its centre. Scott had no idea what my blog was about. I never told him in advance what the subject of the blog was. In other words, we never tried to marry the images to the blog. Imagine my surprise then when just after finishing the blog entry on Sunday afternoon photos arrived from Scott which were ideally suited to what I had just written. I was so impressed that I finished the last blog with the following:

“Just as I finished writing this blog I received photos from Scott Murray, who has been supplying me with great photos. He didn’t know the subject of the blog, but to me they seem uncannily appropriate. Not only that but he said two things came to his mind as he took the photo (today) of the barbed wire. They were these lines from a Bob Dylan lyric:

“She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns.
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”

The second thing that came to his mind was … wait for it … EASTER. When I look at the content of the blog, how amazing is that! Perhaps there is hope after all.

Barbed wire

This image symbolizes, for me, the crown of thorns and the barbed wire round the Vitebsk ghetto.

The missing crown of thorns

Yes, it wasn’t just the photos, but that as he was taking the photos of the barbed wire (as I was writing the blog) that these two thoughts came to him. Thinking about this and the painting by Chagall, a number of things struck me. Chagall’s figure of Christ is sanitized. There is no blood and no violence. But, even more importantly, there in no crown of thorns. Instead there is a halo representing the innocence of the victim.

Chagal was a Jew who had a sympathy with Christianity and with Judaism and the same can be said for Bob Dylan. In fact Bob Dylan declared himself a Christian many years ago. How appropriate then that Scott should think of Bob Dylan and the ‘crown of thorns’. In other words, Christ’s suffering and blood are hugely important. The risen Christ (see below) wants to tell us that.

Web on barbed wire

The partially completed, or destroyed web, for me symbolizes faith in the resurrection, despite appearances.

Chagall’s spiritual view of art

Chagall had a high spiritual view of the artist. He said in My Life: “What counts is art, painting, a kind of painting that is quite different from what everyone makes it out to be. But what kind? Will God or someone else give me the strength to breathe the breath of prayer and mourning into my paintings, the breath of prayer for redemption and resurrection.”

So Scott provided two important supplements to my blog: 1) the missing crown of thorns representing Christ’s blood and suffering and 2) the word Easter representing the resurrection.

Frozen drops on window

The frozen raindrops represent, for me, the tears of the victims of the Holocaust.

The Christ presence interpenetrates reality

This all ties in, in a wonderful way, with what I had been saying – by way of Dooyeweerd’s philosophy – in previous blogs. We may call what happened here synchronicity of the highest order or we may call it the presence of the resurrected Christ. I prefer the latter. All reality is in and through Christ. He is the Alpha and Omega. His place in Chagall’s paintings makes a statement — if incomplete from a Christian perspective because the suffering is missing.

Top of fence strainer in Vatersay

Again this could symbolize the bondage of the Jewish people or, if the post is taken to represent the axis mundi, the cutting off of the human from the world of the sacred.

Transit camp

The statement is nevertheless impressive. A supernatural beam of white light envelops the Saviour from above. The eternal flame of the Menorah shines at the foot of the cross. It says that despite the horrors of the Holocaust that in this temporal reality we are in a transit camp. Despite all appearances, the transience of time is only one aspect of reality. There is the eternal other of which we are part. And the crucifixion of God in Christ is of the utmost importance for our redemption.