Rising from Sleep in the Morning – thoughts

Training...for what?Lent – the first of the Spencer paintings in Stephen Cottrell’s “Christ in the Wilderness” shows Christ waking from sleep to pray.  Now that I’ve read Cottrell’s chapter on this painting, more things strike me – all of them intensely personal.

I got the s3xual connotation, although I didn’t write about that here, but the metaphor is useful for extending my view of God – if the figure of Jesus here is an “erect male member” (sorry, really want to avoid certain searchable terms if I can) then implicitly the other half of that relationship is female. Does that matter? Only if I am particularly aware of being in the image of God – and being female myself, a certain amount of femininity of my view of God helps. And seeing s3x as another form of the dance of the Trinity also resonates – two people and God, the closest of bonds.

The other thing that really struck me was not about the intimacy of Jesus’ relationship with his “Daddy” (a reasonable translation of “Abba” in the Lord’s Prayer), but Cottrell’s suggestion for those who do not have healthy relationships with their fathers.

“…I hope that Jesus’ revelation of God as the loving parent, the one in whom we can enjoy intimacy and communion, can be received as a precious gift to release us from the harder, more limiting patriarchal images that distort the radical simplicity of what Jesus was actually teaching.”

I’ve been told several times over the years that I should understand God the Father in the light of my relationship with my father, but it just doesn’t compute for me – how do you describe a colour to someone who is colour blind? How do you describe the quality of a relationship to someone who just hasn’t ever experienced that kind of relationship themselves? Cottrell offers a different slant – not an imposition of a quality of relationship which I “should” take for myself, but a much gentler image of a gift – and and a reminder of why that gift, that image, matters. His interpretation does not impose on me, instead it frees me. Suddenly the focus is not on the quality of a non existent relationship but on the things we learn from that relationship, and on what we do with those gifts.

Intimacy with God, and with others, is a precious gift. I often don’t get it right. But somehow this Lent is reinforcing my Advent image of quiet time set aside as “a cuddle with God”. It is, as I said, all rather personal. But then, relationships are personal. Always.

9 responses to “Rising from Sleep in the Morning – thoughts

  1. I always think that the deficiencies in all our earthly child/father (and indeed child/mother) relationships point to the wonders of the child/Parent relationship with God. And that using the former as an indicator of the latter is a reason why so many people are bloacked from enjoying the riches of that relationship

    • Thanks for your comment Matthew. in theory a deficient human relationship should make the human-God relationship more amazing, but I think for so many of us, it acts as a block, or perhaps a filter. There is something here about our expectations, and about what we imagine God expects of us, but I haven’t quite got hold of the thought properly yet. Thanks for making me think 🙂

  2. Call me a phillistine if you will! I love art, but hate art critics with a passion. Could be because I dislike being told what to think….
    For me, what makes any piece of art great, is how it makes me feel not what it looks like or how skillfully it’s done.
    If you think I’m wrong tell me why a childs painting makes a mother smile.

    • I am a philistine too Steve, because I analyse art / literature / music pretty much as I would analyse an electrical circuit – instead of input signals I bring me, my experience, my view point; instead of a circuit acting on signals I have a piece of art to act on me; output signals are equivalent to my response. Thoughts of many people is just like have multiple input signals, with multiple output possibilities.
      In effect we are all art critics, just some seem to have Very Important Opinions!

      • Oh nooooooooooo going to have to disagree with you …. again.
        But just to make sure!
        Who has very important opinions?

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