My summer has been very full, but in the midst of everything, I’ve been praying about what to create for my next series for the Fall PACT show entitled “gratitude.”
The influences for this series have been many. Scripture, which is a constant source of inspiration for me. Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist. The book, Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. And Edward Hopper’s black and white etchings.
As I thought about “gratitude” I certainly thought of my husband, my son, my family, and so many other people, things and events I’m grateful for. But the more I prayed and thought about gratitude, the more I began to look at the deeper things underneath each one of those relationships and events in my life.
I was also reading through the Gospel of Luke at the time. (Just a side note: The four Gospel books, the narratives of the time Jesus lived on earth, and the love and mercy that pours out of all he did and said makes me want to create so much art!)
I came to realize that all these amazing people and happenings in my life that I’m so very grateful for are just shadows compared to the deeper gratitude I have because of my relationship with Jesus.
When we think of spirituality or religion, we tend to think of it abstractly — intangible, tame and somewhat clinical. But the longer I’m alive and the more I experience in life, I see that the spiritual is much more real than the “shadows” I mentioned above. Not because they’re separate realms, but because they’re intertwined. And it’s gritty. It’s bloody, sweaty, and tear-stained.
These thoughts were swimming around in my head as I read through Luke and came upon one of my favorite moments.
One of the Pharisees asked [Jesus] over for a meal. He went over to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the table. Just then, a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and poured the perfume on them. The Pharisee saw this and thought, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would know what sort of woman this is who’s throwing herself at him.”
Jesus then tells this story, “Two men were in debt to a lender. One owed five hundred, the other fifty. Neither could pay up, so the lender cancelled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”
One of his followers answers “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”
“That’s right,” says Jesus.
Then he says to his host, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home, you didn’t give me any water to wash my feet, but she washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the moment I arrived, she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet. You didn’t give me anything for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”
Then Jesus says to the prostitute, “I forgive your sins.”
That set the dinner guests talking, “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!!”
Jesus ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Every time I read this story, my mind’s eye puts me in her place. We’re all in her place. She is me and you and we are her. She’s every-man.
This piece is an attempt to capture what I imagine that moment to feel like. I particularly focused on the kisses to Jesus’ feet. There is such intimacy in that gesture of love. Only with Jesus, because of him, do we have this type of closeness with God the Father. It’s mercy and grace that make it possible for any one of us to be able to place our lips on the Son of God’s feet. For this I am full of gratitude.