These days my mind is trying again to wrap itself around the idea of Divine love — surely the hardest of all theological concepts to comprehend and live within, deep down in our souls. I know the truth of unfailing Divine love in my head, but the notion keeps unraveling, slipping away in the warp and woof of life.
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Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel of God at creation floats to mind: in particular the scene of God dividing earth and water. The moment, potent with Divine movement, imagines God flying through the primal stuff of the cosmos, arms outstretched. At the same time a cloak wraps around the airborne Deity, the end of which an assisting Cherub tightly tucks around God’s lower extremities. The Cherub also glances to the side of the painting, sending the viewer’s eye toward the expanding cloak. And we notice that the garment, originating around God, flows outward in a larger circle that envelopes Deity and Cherubim, then flows farther out, trailing behind in what appears to be a cornucopian cloak, like a fertile source from which all creation comes. The actual separation of earth and water forms a subtle backdrop for the scene. God and cloak are the moving, enveloping center of the artist’s imagination.
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Inspired by Michelangelo, this morning I imagine Divine love wrapping tightly around me, enveloping me. At first God’s arms are holding the cloak of love around me. Then I imagine that God is also wrapped up within the cloak, bundled alongside me. But the cloak won’t stay tight; it keeps slipping and moving. Though I want to stand still, holding onto enveloping love, I cannot. For if I stay still, the garment leaves me behind. The cloak is on the move, a cornucopia of love that is unstoppable. Yet if I will let it carry me along, tightly enveloped with love as we move forward, I am caught up in the Divine ceaseless flowing of creative grace — both holding tightly and moving, which feels like slipping away, but I try to go with it, constantly moving, trusting that perhaps a Cherub will keep me tightly tucked into the ever moving cocoon of compassion.
* Art is Michelangelo’s painting of God separating earth and water at creation, ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Rome. I realize the profound and dangerous error in Michelangelo’s masterpiece as he depicts of God as a male, which God certainly is not. My apologies to those offended by my use of the depiction.