Friday, December 01, 2006

baby steps

In the spirit of the season and out of a personal desire to focus a little more on the Christ in Christmas, I have decided to try something new this month. I plan to include a different painting of Christ each day as a kind of “Advent Blog.” The history of art is filled with fascinating religious works – works I don’t want to neglect out of fear of offending someone. So whether you share my faith or not, I hope you’ll find in each post something interesting, or something entertaining, or something to think about. All good art should have the power to do these things, regardless of your personal beliefs.

Of course I’m still going to talk about myself. Because that’s why I have a blog.

I went to the doctor yesterday with the delusional assumption that I’d be getting a walking boot for my foot so my life could return to normal. To continue a metaphor I’m growing rather fond of, I could get back to piloting the Death Star II on its way to destroying unsuspecting planets. Alas, those Rebel forces are relentless and the news was not good. I actually have two different fractures and the more vulnerable one is widening. If I don’t stay completely off my foot for at least 3 (!) weeks, I risk needing surgery. My scream of anguish from the Pit of Despair took the doctor by surprise. She asked: “Do you have a job or something?” “Yeah, well, something like that.” I sighed while scanning desperately around the room for sharp implements with which to impale myself.

So needless to say, I’ve been thinking about walking lately. I’ve been thinking about how much I miss it. As the great existentialist philosopher Joni Mitchell said: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Walking is something I’ve done quite unconsciously since the age of one. It’s my God-given right as a member of the bipedal species to put one foot in front of the other without giving it too much thought. Now – because it’s such a pain to get from point A to point B – I find myself thinking things like: “how much do I really want that glass of water” and also “empty bladders are overrated.”

Walking has served as a metaphor for many things in religious art and in the scriptures. Those who “walk with God” live righteously. Walking is equated with obedience (Lev 26:3), humility (Micah 6:8), and love (Eph 5:2). The whole experience of mortality is a “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23). And in his covenant with Israel, the Lord says “I will walk among you and will be your God” (Lev 26:12).

I recently discovered a pair of Heironymous Bosch paintings that make me see this last verse literally as well as metaphorically. The first is a very unusual scene of Christ as a baby, learning to walk with the help of a wooden frame. He holds a toy whirligig in one hand and with the other, he pushes the frame as he takes a single step forward.

The companion piece to this painting – found on the front side of the same wooden panel – shows Christ walking up the hill to Calvary. The parallels are deliberate and obvious: the whirligig and the cross cut across both scenes at exactly the same angle, and under the weight of the cross, Christ steps with the left foot and bends the right knee and ankle behind him, almost as if completing the series of steps begun more than 30 years before. From vulnerable child to willing martyr, he walked a single path. To me, these images give new meaning to the song running through my head today:
I'll Walk with God from this day on.
His helping hand I'll lean upon.
This is my prayer, my humble plea,
May the Lord be ever with me.

There is no death, tho' eyes grow dim.
There is no fear when I'm near to Him.
I'll lean on Him forever
And He'll forsake me never.

He will not fail me
As long as my faith is strong,
Whatever road I may walk along.

I'll Walk with God, I'll take His hand.
I'll talk with God, He'll understand.
I'll pray to Him, each day to Him
And He'll hear the words that I say.

His hand will guide my throne and rod
And I'll never walk alone
While I walk with God.
I think it's time to rent a copy of The Student Prince again. Is anybody willing to drive me to the video store? In the meantime, I'll have to content myself with this touching, synthesized organ version.


Anonymous said...

Just beautiful! And I wish I could drive you to the video store, but it would take me three days to get there and my hubby took our four-wheel drive vehicle to work with him. We've only received more snow and ice on our roads in 48 hours than we usually see in 2 years on the road, what was he thinking? ;>)

TARA said...

You might possibly be the most brilliant person I know!

Love today's post - and I'm excited to see the Christ theme all month.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I concur with Tara! Which is exactly why my blog link for you says that you always make me think.

You really know how to touch the irreverent spirit within me without being long winded and preachy. You, ma'am, have a gift!

Julie said...

What good is a 4-wheel drive if you can't take it on a long road trip to rescue a friend/nearly a total stranger from boredom? See ya Tuesday.

Glad you're looking forward to it. I was beginning to wonder if it was a good idea or not. Blogger's remorse. Brilliant people do not put milk in the cupboard instead of the fridge :)

I make you think and you make me laugh hysterically so it's a fair trade. I'm nervous about sounding preachy, so please TELL ME if I get carried away.

meno said...

Oh no! I feel for you. I had to stay off my foot for 6 weeks.
I recommend an office chair with wheels if you can use one to get around. i did that at work, i even wheeled into the restroom on mine. Scared a few folks

I am not religious, but i look forward to seeing your posts.

Julie said...

Thanks Meno. I can't IMAGINE 6 weeks. The thought of 3 more is killing me. I think if I got an office chair with wheels to scoot around in the kids would never let me use it. They'd be too busy playing with it themselves. (This is judging from the fact that we brought the stroller into the house for me to get the baby from one room to another in and I always have to hunt it down and then take out various toys, stuffed animals, etc. before I can use it).

Anonymous said...

I wish I was there to help! Hang in there! I could clearly see your kids taking advantage of it AND the stroller in tandem.

Love today's post, too! Brilliant idea for an advent blog. Can't wait to see more!

Jenn said...

I am looking forward to seeing the art! Sidelined at Christmas..ouch. Love the drs comment?!!! Doesn't everybody have some kind of work? Duh?

Annie said...

After a comment like you got, I'd have been looking around that room for sharp instruments I could impale the little missy docotr with!!! Grrrr Only a woman with no children could say such a stupid thing!! LOL I know it's sappy to say, Julie, but eventually this too shall just be a vivid memory!!

Jenn said...

This just in...I have linked to you in todays post. I got a beautiful Christmas at the 99 Cent store.Do you have A Child Is Born by Margaret Wise Brown?

Julie said...

No we don't have the Margaret Wise Brown book, but now that I've seen it on your blog, I think I need a copy.

Now how did you guess she had no children? :) I think I'd rather try her doctor's job for a few weeks on one foot. Piece of cake.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful idea to do an "Advent Blog!" I just finished doing a daily gratitude post for the month of November and I wanted to somehow continue the tradition with something for this month and Christmas, but my brain couldn't think of anything. Instead I will come frequent your site :) !! I am excited to see what you will do everyday.

And by the way, I hope your foot heals soon. It must be such a pain to be so incapaciated by such a simple thing as walking down the stairs ... no pun intended. Loved the comment about "bladders being overrated!"

Julie said...

Ordinary Mom,
Now I wish I had thought of the gratitude posts too. What a nifty idea. Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

This is so fantastic. I am not familiar with that Bach painting - one of the best parts of your blog is that I always learn *something.*

I am looking forward to your month o' images of Christ.

And prayers for your foot. I can't even imagine been one-legged for 3 more weeks. Hang in there.

The Lazy Organizer said...

Dang we won't be dancing to "our song" any time soon! Did you ever figure out what it was?

I'm going to drop that bread off on our way to California next week, K?