The Foxes Have Holes

MP900262564Lent – the fourth of the Spencer paintings in Stephen Cottrell’s “Christ in the Wilderness” is called “The Foxes Have Holes”.

“The foxes have holes….but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20.

Christ looks exhausted in this painting, like a woman who has just given birth, but with none of the elation of new life.He is collapsed with his back against the bank – and the foxes play hide and seek around him. The scene is set in another barren landscape, this time with bare earth and bare tree roots. There are no flowers, no sense of green shoots, just impacted hard earth.

There is none of the intensity of Christ’s expression here as there was when he looked at the daisies or even the scorpion. Christ looks to the side, staring at his hand, his tongue lolling out – through thirst? Because he is too tired even to put it back in his mouth? Even though the foxes play, there is no sense of energy at all in this painting. Everything is washed up and worn out.

I”ve got quite behind with considering these paintings and reading the book. But somehow, this painting is a good match for this time in Lent. Refreshment Sunday has been and gone, next Sunday is Palm Sunday, the start of Holy week – the last long haul up to the Cross. Christ has been in the wilderness for a long time now, and there is yet more to come.

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