Lent – the second of the Spencer paintings in Stephen Cottrell’s “Christ in the Wilderness” shows Christ staring at meadow flowers. Lest we forget He is in the wilderness, the far background seems to be of fir trees on a snow covered mountain. My impression is of a field carpeted in daisies – it reminds me of the lawn of my childhood home. But that mountain in the background is altogether more wild and more threatening. Which brings me to the figure of Christ. In this, He is studying a daisy with great intensity. And for all his delicacy, he reminds me of a huge brown bear.
He looks so very rooted in the ground, and is resting on his huge hands. They remind me of my Grandad, who had massive hands – I associate large hands with security, with love, with being cared for. And yet eventually these secure, tree-trunk like limbs will have nails hammered through them.
I love this picture. Anyone who has got down on their hands and knees to stare at flowers, beetles or ants will recognise how shoulders hunch, and how it is possible to get lost in the moment. Time stretches and slows, and looking at the daisy connects us with the rhythm of the seasons, the cycle of growth, blooming, fading and dying. And the fact that it is a cycle reminds us that death is not the end…..