Jan. 5, 2016
HOW DID YOU KNOW THERE WAS A LION IN THE MARBLE? … Some 25 years ago in Bethlehem, I was involved in the installation of a large, movable satellite dish on the four-story bell tower of our cathedral. I invited the local newspaper to send a photographer. He took one exceptional photo when the dish, lifted by a crane, seemed suspended from the sky and a cross on the roof of the adjoining cathedral church was visible through the mesh of the dish.
For many years, as I crossed a bridge into South Bethlehem, just before getting to Diocesan House, a version of that image continued to intrigue me. I used it to get focused, to get centered. It was a juxtaposition in search of a theology of communication. From the bridge, both the cross on the roof of the cathedral and the satellite dish on the bell tower came into view. Glancing at one, then at the other… I remembered the moment when one was seen through the other.
I no longer make that daily drive. I think the dish, surpassed now by better technology, has been removed. Still, the memory remains.
The cross of the Mediator, Jesus Christ, is a window into the heart of God. The satellite dish was symbolic of the many and various other media of God’s self-disclosure. “Long ago,” the Letter to the Hebrews begins, “God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways...” God still uses many media of self disclosure.
Where will God show up today? For whom might you be a clue?
One story/image I discovered long ago in a book by Henri Nouwen frequently replays in my head. The open-ended image is ever fresh.
A little boy wandered into a sculptor’s studio and watched a master sculptor work with hammer and chisel on a large piece of marble. It did not long hold the child's interest. Months later he returned. Where once stood a large block of marble, there stood a majestic and powerful Aslan-like lion. “How did you know,” he asked the sculptor, “there was a lion in the marble?” “I knew,” the sculptor replied, “because I saw the lion first in my heart. The real secret, though, is that it was the lion in my heart who recognized himself in the marble.”
The Christ within recognizes himself unformed in the disguises of the world. Spirituality becomes ministry. Contemplation becomes action. Prayer becomes mission.
The image suggests also the relationship between the ministries of communication and evangelism, God’s word becoming flesh. Incarnation continues.