This summer I had the great pleasure of seeing some great art exhibits. Though I typically love going to art museums, I rarely make time to go. Life just gets too busy and other “important” things seem to take precedence. But what I realized this summer is I should go to art museums more often because the busyness of life easily distracts me from seeing the really important stuff of life.
My first art museum jaunt was to the Salvadore Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. I did not really know much about Dali, except his iconic melting clocks. But his work blew me away. One of my favorite pieces of his is called, “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea,” 1976. He plays with images in the painting so that up close you see a cross, and far away, you see a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. But it wasn’t until I took a picture with my phone that I could see the second image. His playfulness with visual perception made me wonder if we don’t all struggle with visual perception in life. We all run around seeing only a portion of reality. This partial vision and perception means that we are also constantly missing the presence and activity of God in our lives. Like Dali’s painting, we can miss the presence of Christ when we are too close or too far away to notice our Savior in the world about us.
I had a similar experience when visiting the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. They have an exhibit by Kehinde Wiley that shakes up our senses about who is traditionally featured in portraits. My favorite piece of his was a gold-leaf icon-like portrait called “The Archangel Gabriel” 2014. Everything about the Angel Gabriel is unexpected – his clothing, his hair, his jewelry, and his skin color. But there is also something entirely familiar about him – a gentleness, trustworthiness, and sense of reassurance. By reimagining ancient depictions of the Angel Gabriel, Wiley reminds us that God does not always appear in the ways and in the people we expect. I suspect that we often miss God’s presence simply because we are not looking with the eyes of God.
I wonder how common this pattern is for all of us. How often do we rush past Christ as we rush through life? This week, I invite you to do what you need to do to slow down and see God at work in the world about you. Whether you need to go to an art exhibit, take a yoga class, volunteer with one of our outreach ministries, or just take thirty minutes of quiet or prayer, find a way to shake up your busy routine and look with intention to see the ways in which God is active in your life. I look forward to hearing about what you learn.