In the mid 1970’s, I had a short stint as an art student in Wisconsin. Through those studies I met the remarkable professor, Reinhold Marxhausen, who was skillful at teaching others to see. Like the more recent work of Dewitt Jones, Marxhausen embodied a calling to help others discern unexpected beauty in everyday places and people.
The vocation of the artist is to see and help make apparent the beauty that surrounds us. Theologians have the same vocation. For artists and theologians share an interest in beauty, goodness and truth, and their common divine source. A saying from the early Egyptian Christian monk, Evagrius, may help us here. He said that a theologian is someone who prays. Someone who prays acquires logos about theos. He or she gains wisdom from God and, in the process, receives a fuller vision of beauty, goodness and truth.
On Sunday, we will hear one of my favorite Gospel stories ~ the road to Emmaus. This story prompts an Eastertide question, of interest to both the artist and the theologian: Where do we find the resurrection? In what unexpected places or people do we find the risen Jesus? The inverse question is more perceptive: Where does the resurrection find us? In what quite unexpected place or part of our lives are we found by the risen Jesus?
The Gospels help us see the answer, in darkened tombs and in our darkened hearts. Resurrection finds us on our life journeys as we are joined by our often unrecognized Companion on the Way, and at table when we break bread together. He helps us see the big picture, and how “every story whispers his name.” *
Encountering and then seeing true beauty, we find our hearts burning within us.
The painting, The Road to Emmaus (1997), by He Qi (He Qi,© 2013), is used by licensed permission. The Emmaus story can be found in Luke 24:13-35. * This is the evocative subtitle of the commendable book, The Jesus Storybook Bible (Zondervan).