By Sister Alba Luz Mejia Solis
Franciscan Sisters of Allegheny, NY
It's with particular excitement that I received the news about going to the Art Museum for a Holy Week reflection. I anticipated seeing images of Jesus and narrative scenes from the Life of Christ as the most common subjects, scenes of images of the Virgin Mary and saints, etc., however, nothing that anticipated happened.
The museum is very big, I needed to walk a lot, which I also did not expect. I did a lot of walking looking for my artwork and I was not understanding why my Director assigned to me the art piece of a black cross. I was weary as I walked around for 40 minutes with another novice. Once we found the painting we were asked to make a reflection, which I could not do because my time was spent in search of the painting. The name of the painting was “Black Cross” by Georgia O’Keefe.
I found answers in the story of Georgia. The “Black Cross” depicts what the artist encountered during her late-night walks in the New Mexican wilderness. Wooden crosses were erected throughout the Southwestern landscape by clandestine Catholic lay brotherhoods called Penitents. Their influence dominates such paintings as “Black Cross” (1929). “Black Cross” symbolizes the religion of an enormous population of people of all cultures.
At the beginning I didn’t see any meaning in this painting that I was expecting to see something more sacred or something that told me about Jesus Christ. So, I was confused at how this could be possible. How can this painting have a deeper meaning for my life? How could I reflect on this Black Cross? Then, I found myself asking God for His Grace to understand this painting of the “Black Cross”.
My intense need to understand will always be a powerful stumbling block. My attempts to reach God in simple love must always be overcome, for if I do not overcome this need to understand it will undermine my quest. I will replace it with darkness, with clear images of something however good, however beautiful, however Godlike, is not God. So, my need to understand comes between me and God and understanding myself.
Do not misunderstand, simple, sudden thoughts of good and spiritual things are not wrong, but in my effort to pierce this situation, in walking too much, in not getting what I was supposed to find and do, I was just trying to reach out spontaneously to God, and my thoughts can be a hindrance. For surely in my efforts to have God perfectly, I must not be content to rest in the mere consciousness of anything that is not God.
What my reflection brought me back to is to let a need to love replace my need to understand. It is only in the effort to love I will make God accessible in my life and everything God has created. Love makes God accessible.
Blessed are you, spring, season of resurrection, sacrament of promise. Like Jesus you rise up out of the darkness, leaving around you a wake of new life, season of hope and renewal. Each year you amaze us with the miracle of returning life.