Wednesday, June 3, 2009
A New Old Image
There are times when the old images of Christ just don't have the comforting power we need. When I was growing up I loved above all other bible stories the story of the shepherd looking for his lost sheep-I used to tell myself that story before goingt o sleep at night, replaying that pastoral picture in my head. But now as an adult there are times when I thirst for something more visceral, more violent even, to match the chaos of fear and grief.
When I went to Monicas memorial, the next day I went to mass with Lydia at their home church (I know, it's not a great picure; I took it myself, what do you expect? We can't all be John Steubler, winner of the Best of Silicon Valley for photography!!). On the tabernacle there they have the image of a mother pelican, encircled by hungry babies facing her with their mouths gaping open. The pelican has her beak pressed to her chest, and on some versions she is bleeding. This image of the mother Pelican is an ancient symbol of Christ and most especially the Eucharist; the legend goes that in times of famine the Pelican will feed her young all the food she has until she is about to starve, and then she will rip open her chest and feed them her heart so that they may live even as she dies. This image is so powerful to me- it brings me to tears every time I encounter it, which is rare. It has been all but forgotten.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Sharon who died of cancer on Monday. Pray for the comfort of her husband and five children, pray for Sol and Kai as they face this new life without Monica. I pray that in their times of famine Chirst would feed them from his very heart that they may know his presence in their grief.