What we don't see

Sometimes what we don’t see is more powerful than what we do.

This applies to people, art, faith and even travel. On a trip, we’re rarely in a place long enough to understand it fully. Instead, we get hints and glimpses, indicators of something beyond what we can see. Sometimes, that’s all we get and we return home with our curiosity whetted but only partially satisfied.

Other times, we realize that we have gathered enough pieces of insight so that with time and reflection we can begin to form a more complete picture. Eventually, what we didn’t see begins to make sense from the limited clues we did

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) – Jerusalem, also called Golgotha, Consumatum est; The Crucifixion, 1867

So it was this week as I was reviewing past entries here on The Meaningful Traveler. I came across this post and as I looked at the image (repeated above) of a painting by Gerome, I realized this: Before, on my trip to LA a year or so ago, I saw only a painting. This week, as we approach Good Friday, I see – and I don’t see – so much more.

This painting of the original Good Friday is a great work of art on several levels: from the composition and diagonal pointing of the crosses at the retreating Romans to the use of shadow and light to the story it tells…or rather, doesn’t. We don’t see the main character here – merely the shadow of the three crosses – or even the main action of the story.

That’s as it should be for neither did anyone at the time of the original event.

Sure, they witnessed a person hanging on a cross: a rebel or innocent man or criminal or great teacher or son or once-hoped-for-Messiah (each version an interpretation based on the perspective of the spectator). But it’s what they didn’t see that matters most.

They didn’t see the Father grieving. They didn’t see the Son separated, taking on our worst for our ultimate best. They didn’t see the time between times when death itself was overcome. They saw and knew none of this.

Until three days later.

So today, Good Friday, take a moment to reflect on the trip Jesus took not just to the Cross, but after it to that point three days later when the stone was rolled away and what we don’t see – a body lying in a tomb – shows us…and changes…everything.

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